Thursday, June 29, 2017

Frank Sinatra on Religion


A recording artist. . . .a concert performer. . . .and an actor. . .but a thinker too?  Definitely so, as demonstrated by a Playboy Magazine interview back in 1963.  Speaking out on several subjects, Frank’s responses were articulate and thought-provoking, not to mention bold and provocative, especially on the subject of religion.  Of course, Frank was never one to just tell people what they want to hear.  In fact, when the interviewer at Playboy offered to exclude some of the controversial remarks, Frank said to just leave them in.

On religion, Frank said “I believe in nature, in the birds, the sea, the sky, in everything I can see or that there is real evidence for.  But I don’t believe in a personal God to whom I look for comfort or for a natural on the next roll of the dice”.  He went on to say “I’m not unmindful of man’s seeming need for faith; I’m for anything that gets you through the night, be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.”  And he concluded that thought by saying “To me, religion is a deeply personal thing in which man and God go it alone together, without the witch doctor in the middle.  The witch doctor tries to convince us that we have to ask God for help, to spell out to him what we need, even to bribe him with prayer or cash on the line”.  According to a Sinatra authority, Frank was not alone among entertainers with the views he held, but was perhaps the biggest star to express those views. Some stars of today with similar views include Brad Pitt, Billy Joel, Woody Allen, Jack Black, John Malkovich, Linda Ronstadt, Emma Thompson and Seth MacFarlane, to name a few.

When asked about organized religion, Frank said “Over 25,000 religions flourish on this planet, but the followers of each thinks all the others are miserably misguided and probably evil as well”.  

And Frank addressed what he saw as hypocrisy.  As Frank put it, “Remember that leering, cursing lynch mob in Little Rock intimidating a meek, innocent little 12 year-old black girl as she tried to enroll in public school?  Weren’t they—or most of them—devout churchgoers?” And Frank added “I detest the two-faced people who pretend spirituality but are practiced bigots in their own mean little spheres.”  Here, Frank was also addressing an issue close to his heart:  Racism, against which he was a pioneering activist. 


He was particularly insightful when connecting religion with politics, observing that “Our civilization, such as it is, was shaped by religion, and the men who aspire to public office anyplace in the free world must pay homage to God or risk immediate criticism and condemnation.”  And he’s right.  Try to think of the last time you heard a political candidate declare that he or she rejects religion.  It’s quite the contrary, with all the proclamations of faith, and religious obedience that come from our candidates and office-holders. 

And finally, Frank speculated about how remarks against popular religious views might affect his acceptance by the public, asking “Have you thought of the chance I’m taking by speaking out this way?  Can you imagine the deluge of crank letters, curses, threats and obscenities I’ll receive after these remarks gain general circulation?  Worse, the boycott of my records, my films, maybe a picket line at my opening at the Sands.  Why?  Because I believe that love and decency are not necessarily products of religious fervor.”  And this is when he was given an opportunity to have the remarks excluded but said “No, let it run.  I’ve thought this way for years, ached to say these things.  Whom have I harmed by what I’ve said?”

The Sinatra thoughts on religion were enlightening, and courageous, especially coming from someone who depended on the public for his success.  But he chose to live in a no pandering zone.  It was  refreshing honesty from the man, much like the honesty of his performances as an artist. . .an artist with a lot of thought behind him. 

By the way, in 1963, when the Sinatra interview ran, a copy of Playboy cost 60 cents. 






Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Rat Pack on the Walk of Fame


If you visit Hollywood, you can't miss the Hollywood Walk of Fame, because the sidewalk stars honoring entertainment personalities cover the downtown area.  In all, over 2400 stars have been dedicated to both performers and behind the scenes honorees.  And among them, are sidewalk stars honoring members of the Rat Pack. . .with one exception.

Stars have been awarded in the categories of motion pictures, television, radio, recording, and live performance.  The most honored celebrity of them all is Gene Autry, who has stars in all five categories.

In Hollywood, you'll find four stars on the sidewalks for singer Tony Martin, for motion pictures, TV, radio, and recording.

When it comes to the Rat Pack, both Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin are honored with three stars each, in the categories of motion pictures, recording and TV.  Sammy Davis Jr. is represented with one star, for recording, and Peter Lawford is there with a star for TV.

Rat Pack friend Marilyn Monroe is on the Walk of Fame with a star for motion pictures, and Frank's daughter Nancy has her own star, for recording.

The one Rack Pack omission:  Comedian Joey Bishop, who had his own successful talk show and sitcom on TV, and a long career in live performance.  Despite that, Joey is not present on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.  But then for that matter, also missing is the co-creator and star of what many people consider the best TV comedy series of all time.  And that would be Jerry Seinfeld.

This article courtesy of the Frank Sinatra tribute site, FrankTribute.com

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Marilyn Monroe and the Rat Pack


If there was a Rat Pack sex symbol, it would have to be Marilyn Monroe, who was closely associated with the group.  She was present for Las Vegas Rat Pack shows, and had a close friendship with Frank Sinatra, which some people will say was actually much more than a friendship.  At one point, Frank gave Marilyn a small white Poodle to replace the dog she lost in her divorce from Arthur Miller.  For laughs, Marilyn named the dog Maf, which was short for Mafia.  There probably weren't a lot of people who were close enough to Frank to pull that off. 

It was Rat Pack member Peter Lawford who asked Marilyn to sing Happy Birthday to President John F. Kennedy, which became one of the most memorable moments of Marilyn's life and her place in history.

And the Rat Pack's Dean Martin was signed to co-star with Marilyn in a film called Something's Got To Give.  But when Marilyn was dismissed from the project, Dean refused to go forward with it with a new co-star (actress Lee Remick), and he withdrew from the production.  The film was later completed as Move Over Darling, starring James Garner and Doris Day.

Toward her untimely end, Marilyn's relationship with Frank had become strong, around the time she was filming The Misfits.  In fact, the cast of the film was invited by Frank to see him perform at the Cal-Neva Lodge in Lake Tahoe, in which he had invested.  And it's there, that Marilyn was said to spend one of  the last weekends of her life, a life that ended at the tender age of 36. 

Today, a tribute to Marilyn is often featured in Rat Pack tributes and Rat Pack impersonator shows, including a Rat Pack related show featuring Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe impersonators.



Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rat Pack Trivia


Although much is known about the Rat Pack and its primary members, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., there are still a lot of interesting facts about this group of close friends and co-stars that are not widely known.  For example, as a young man, one of the Rat Pack members worked as a blackjack dealer, and later dealt blackjack for fun in the Las Vegas casinos where he and the guys were starring.  "The Rat Pack" was not the name preferred by Frank Sinatra to describe the group.  What did he prefer?  And one of the Rat Pack members was often known as "Smokey".  Who was it, and why?  The answers to these questions and many others can be found at FunTrivia.com's Rat Pack trivia page.

FunTrivia.com offers over 110,000 trivia quizzes on a variety of subjects including science, sports, history, and many entertainment related topics covering TV, movies, and celebrities, which of course includes the quiz that serves as an interesting Rat Pack tribute.

To test your knowledge of Frank, Dean, Sammy and company's historic partnership, visit FunTrivia's Rat Pack trivia quiz.  Also visit the Rat Pack Tribute at FrankTribute.com for more information on one of today's groups of entertainers that's also doing its part to keep the Rat Pack's memory alive. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Memories of a Rat Pack Member by a Rat Pack Daughter

Dean Martin's fourth of seven children is a daughter who was named for him. Deana Martin (pronounced like Dina) is an actress, recording artist and concert performer. In addition, Deana is also the co-author of a book about her dad called Memories Are Made Of This; Dean Martin Through His Daughter's Eyes.

Co-written with Wendy Holden, the book is an enjoyable reminiscence of Dean's life from the inside, which includes a foreword by Dean's former partner Jerry Lewis. There are many recollections of Dean as an entertainer, husband, and father, and it's an intimate look at family members and friends who were close to him, including of course his pals in the Rat Pack. Plus, the book includes many interesting accounts of Deana's own experiences as an entertainer. Written in 2004, the book will remain an enduring look at Dean's professional life and family life.


Also keeping Dean's memory alive is the Dean Martin Festival, held every June in Dean's birthplace of Steubenville Ohio, and the festival is staged each year under the loving direction of Deana Martin. The festival often features entertainment by some of the best Rat Pack Impersonators.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Judy Garland & The Rat Pack; Tribute to Their Memories

Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford are remembered as The Rat Pack, with roots in Las Vegas, but a precursor to their famous partnership was something known as the Holmby Hills Rat Pack. This group of entertainers didn't perform together or make films like Frank, Dean, Sammy and company. Instead, the Holmby Hills Rat Pack was really just an unofficial social club that gathered at Humphrey Bogart's house in the affluent Los Angeles suburb of Holmby Hills. The membership included Bogart and his wife Lauren Bacall, actor David Niven, agent Swifty Lazar, often Frank Sinatra, and a movie producer named Sid Luft with his wife, the legendary singer and actress Judy Garland.

They gave themselves comical titles, like Bogart's designation as "rat in charge of public relations", Bacall as "den mother", and Frank as "pack master". Judy had a more establishment title as first vice-president.

But in addition to her membership in the Holmby Hills group, Judy also maintained a strong connection to the more famous Rat Pack of Frank, Dean and Sammy. Her connection to Frank was especially strong and long-lasting. Years before the 60's Rat Pack, Judy and Frank both worked on the MGM lot, and when Frank became a headliner at the Sands in Las Vegas, Judy was also signed to perform there. And at the peak of the Rat Pack's Las Vegas heyday in 1962, Judy hosted a network TV special, and landed Frank and Dean as her guest stars for some memorable music numbers.

Judy remained friends with Frank till she died in 1969 at the age of 47. But another Judy Garland Rat Pack connection appeared when Frank, Dean and Sammy attempted to revive the Rat Pack show in 1987. Unfortunately, with Dean ailing, it wasn't meant to be, at least not with the original three guys. Soon after the tour started, Dean dropped out. But the tour continued, with Frank and Sammy sharing the stage with a replacement for Dean in the form of Judy Garland's daughter, Liza Minnelli.

In addition to being one of the twentieth century's greatest entertainers, Judy Garland's name should be included in any comprehensive Rat Pack tribute or reminiscence.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Rat Pack Tribute Blogspot

A Rat Pack Tribute Blogspot, created August 5th, 2008. More Rat Pack Tribute information at http://www.franktribute.com/rat_pack.html