Legendary singer, actor, and entertainer, Francis Albert ‘Frank’ Sinatra died twenty years ago – May 14, 1998. One of the most prolific singers of all time, he released 69 albums and 297 singles during his recording career. As an actor, he appeared in over 40 feature films and won the Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his role in From Here to Eternity. Simply put, Sinatra was the consummate entertainer.
Sinatra was a bigger than life personality – a major social influencer decades before there was such a thing.
Women wanted to date him. Men wanted to hang out with him – have a drink. For many, Sinatra’s music was the soundtrack of their lives. Dating or falling in love? What better song than All the Way? Getting married? Love and Marriage. Things not go well, breakup or divorced? One for My Baby (and One More for the Road) Starting a new relationship? Love is Lovelier, the Second Time Around. Even in death – one of the most requested songs, especially by men, is Sinatra’s I Did It My Way.
Today, Frank Sinatra songs are played on Spotify alone nearly 5,000,000 times per month!
The phrase ‘stratospheric success’ doesn’t go far enough to describe what Frank Sinatra accomplished. Actor, Entertainer, Rogue. Many consider him one of the greatest singers ever. So, what makes Sinatra the Fearless Brand that he is? What were the key turning points in his life? Most importantly, what can we learn from Sinatra that we can incorporate into our pursuit of success?
Sinatra was born in Hoboken, New Jersey the only child of Sicilian immigrants. Weighing 13.6 pounds at birth, meant that he had to be delivered with the aid of forceps. significant because it left the side of his face scarred and perforated his eardrum. From a very young age Sinatra became interested in music – he was particularly enamored with Bing Crosby. Frank began singing anywhere and everywhere that he could, eventually being discovered by bandleader Harry James. Sinatra then sang with the big band of Tommy Dorsey for two years before beginning a solo career.
Sinatra was an immediate success. He gained a huge following most notably of girls who found him to be a ‘heartthrob’. Looks aside, it was his voice that set him apart and earned him nicknames like the ‘Sultan of Swoon’ and ‘The Voice’. Yet with all of his success, it was a lonely time for Sinatra. It was the war years and his punctured eardrum left him ‘unfit’ for military duty, leaving him stateside when most boys his age had gone off to war.
He made his acting debut in 1943 with the films Reveille With Beverley and Higher and Higher. In 1946 he earned a special Academy Award for a movie short he starred in, the purpose of which was to promote racial and religious tolerance. Despite that recognition, the post-war years would see a drop in Sinatra’s popularity, leading to him losing his recording and acting contracts. It was, arguably, the lowest point in his career.
With persistence and a number of influential supporters pushing his name, Sinatra was cast as Maggio in the film From Here to Eternity in 1953. The exposure from that movie and the Oscar, of course, reignited Sinatra’s career. He appeared in several films, notably The Man with the Golden Arm and The Manchurian Candidate, with many believing he deserved another Oscar for the latter.
The 1960’s saw the evolution of The Rat Pack, which consisted of Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop. At its essence, The Rat Pack was a group of guys who loved to hang out with each other and have fun. In that all five were immensely talented performers, they also worked together, making movies, television specials, and Las Vegas shows. For his part, Sinatra was considered the ‘leader of the pack’.
Sinatra took a two year ‘retirement’ in 1970, which officially ended with the 1973 release of Sinatra’s newly recorded album, Ol’ Blue Eyes is Back. Sinatra would continue to perform in public until 1995 and at private events as late as February 1998, two months before his death. The very last song sung by Frank Sinatra? The Best is Yet to Come. That is also the epitaph on his tombstone.
There will never be another Frank Sinatra – but the Frank Sinatra will live forever. We can learn a great deal about how to be successful – how to live an authentic life – from Ol’ Blue Eyes.
Tap into the emotion of your talents! Sinatra had an amazing voice, his phrasing was unique, his style was fairly simple. So why have so many made his music their life’s soundtrack? Sinatra made it a point to feel the song, to live the song. He studied the lyrics, became keenly aware of the lyricist’s intent. The connection that Sinatra had with his songs was in invisible thread tying he and the audience together. When you heard Frank Sinatra sing a lonely, sad bar song, you felt as though you were at the bar with him. When he sang about love, you were immersed in the story as if it were your own. Tap into the emotion of your talent – the emotion of your purpose.
I did it my way! Sinatra was, for the most part, a lonely sort. He was nocturnal, staying up throughout the night, going to sleep early in the morning. He loved Jack Daniels. He was generous and passionate. For years he was an enthusiastic Democrat working on behalf of Roosevelt and Kennedy, but eventually switched to the Republican party. Much has been said about Sinatra and connections to organized crime – but for Sinatra, friends are friends. Sinatra truly did it his way. In branding speak, it’s called being authentic.
Be true to yourself – Know what you want from life…it’s all that really matters. Sinatra had this to say:
“I would like to be remembered as a man who had a wonderful time living life, a man who had good friends, fine family – and I don’t think I could ask for anything more than that, actually.”
“I’m not one of those complicated, mixed-up cats. I’m not looking for the secret of life…I just go on from day to day taking what comes.”
“What I do with my life is of my own doing. I live it the best way I can. I’ve been criticized on many, many occasions, because of – acquaintances, and what have you.”
No, there won’t be another Sinatra. Like him, however, we too can achieve stratospheric success in our own realm by incorporating some of the same philosophies he did. Keep the passion alive, be authentic, and always remember – The Best is Yet to Come.