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|Mug shot of a young Frank Sinatra|
Francis Albert Sinatra (December 12, 1915 - May 14, 1998) was an American singer and actor and is, with Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Louis Armstrong and Ray Charles, one of the top five American popular musicians of the 20th century. Indeed he is one of the top musicans of the 20th century, the most famous member of the Rat Pack.
Born in Hoboken, New Jersey as the son of a quiet father and a talented, tempestuous mother, Sinatra decided to become a singer after hearing Bing Crosby on the radio. He began singing in small clubs in New Jersey and eventually attracted the attention of trumpeter and band-leader Harry James.
After a brief stint with James, he joined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra where he rose to fame as a singer. His vast appeal to the "bobbie soxers", as teenagers were called, revealed a whole new audience for popular music, which had generally appealed mainly to adults up to that time. He was the first teen idol.
He later recorded as a solo artist with some success, particularly during the musician's recording strikes. Vocalists were not part of the musician union and were allowed to record during the ban by using a capella vocal backing.
His career was in eclipse in the late 40s and early 50s when he made a spectacular comeback as a film actor in From Here to Eternity. He later appeared in many films, the most notable being The Man with the Golden Arm, and The Manchurian Candidate.
In the 1950s and 60s, Sinatra was a popular attraction in Las Vegas. He was friends with many other entertainers, including Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. These three were the core of the Rat Pack, a loose group of entertainers who were friends and partied together.
Sinatra was dogged throughout his later career by accusations that he was in the Mafia and that his career was aided behind the scenes by associates in organized crime. J. Edgar Hoover apparently suspected Sinatra over the years, and Sinatra's file at the FBI ended up at 2,403 pages. Sinatra publicly rejected these accusations many times, and was never charged with any crimes in connection with them. The character Johnny Fontane in the book and movie The Godfather is inspired by Frank Sinatra and his alleged connections.
His voice is instantly recognizable, and in its prime could evoke not only great strength and charisma, but nostalgia and tenderness as well. Sinatra had good taste in songs, and excellent taste in arrangers. He is particularly noted for his phrasing.