Frank Sinatra performed in the previous video with life-long friends who were part of the so-called Rat Pack: Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and, no, not Johnny Carson (you couldn’t get rid of him in those days) but Joey Bishop who couldn’t attend that evening.The Rat Pack was a group of actors originally centered on Humphrey Bogart. In the mid-1960s it was the name used by the press and the general public to refer to a later variation of the group, after Bogart’s death, that called itself “the Summit” or “the Clan,” During the 1980s David Blum morphed Rat Pack into “Brat Pack“ to define a group of up and coming young actors who also starred in several movies together: Anthony Michael Hall, Robert Downey Jr., Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Molly Ringwald, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, James Spader and Ally Sheedy. None of the women were considered to be Brat Pack Mascots. The group however wasn’t happy about the label. In fact,after Blum wrote the article, Estevez phoned him and stated, “you’ve just ruined my career.” (Fortunately, this was untrue. Estevez went on to make several successful films).
In the last year the Rat Pack made a movie together, Lawford was replaced with Bing Crosby. The name “The Rat Pack” was first used to refer to a group of friends in New York. Several explanations have been offered for the famous name over the years. According to one version, the group’s original “Den Mother,” Lauren Bacall, after seeing her husband return from a night in Las Vegas said “You look like a goddamn rat pack.“ Marilyn Monroe and Bacall would eventually made a movie together, How to Marry a Millionaire. Rat Pack” may also be a shortened version of “Holmby Hills Rat Pack”, referring to the home of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, a regular hangout. Marilyn, Angie Dickinson (who also had an affair with JFK) Juliet Prowse (who would one day lure Sinatra away from Marilyn) and Shirley MacLaine were considered to be Rat Pack Mascots. Ouch. Insult. Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack had dealings with the 1960 presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy and his early administration. For a time in 1960, this group and some of their friends were dubbed “The Jack Pack” when they helped the Kennedy-for-President campaign.
Sinatra and the Rat Pack became intertwined with the Kennedy family in part through Peter Lawford’s marriage to Jack Kennedy’s sister, Patricia, and later through Sinatra’s friendship with U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy. But the Rat Pack’s Hollywood and business network in the entertainment world also made it a strong power in voter turnout, which soon become apparent in the 1960 presidential election and beyond Sinatra in fact held a magnificent party for the newly inaugurated President Kennedy..At one point near the show’s end, with an introduction from Sinatra, JFK rose to speak as a single spotlight shone on him. “We saw excellence tonight,” Kennedy said, while commending Sinatra and Peter Lawford for their work on the gala. “The happy relationship between the arts and politics which has characterized our long history I think reached culmination tonight,” he said. Even though it was nearly 1:30 a.m. when the gala ended, and Jackie Kennedy had long since gone home as she was still recovering from the Cesarean birth of John Jr., JFK went to another party that night given by his father, Joseph Kennedy, at Paul Young’s restaurant in downtown D.C. JFK didn’t get home until 3:30 a.m. Following the inauguration, the ties between Frank Sinatra and the Kennedy’s – especially those involving JFK and the White House – gradually became strained and eventually were severed but this would not occur for another year or so. But in February 1961, within weeks of JFK’s inauguration, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover sent a pointed memo to the new U.S. Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy. The memo detailed Sinatra’s extensive connections to organized crime figures. Robert Kennedy would later impress upon his brother, the President, that he needed to distance himself from Sinatra.
Still, exchanges between the Kennedy family, Sinatra, and members of his Rat Pack continued through 1961 and beyond. In early July, Sinatra and Peter Lawford joined U.S. Attorney General, Robert Kennedy to attend benefit dinner for the Cedars-Sinai Hospital at the Beverly Hilton in Hollywood. Another report had Sinatra, the Dean Martin family, Peter Lawford and family, Sammy Davis and May Britt, and Janet Leigh using the French Riviera home of Joseph P. Kennedy during a ten-day vacation in August 1961 Then, in late September 1961, ten months after the election, Joe Kennedy threw a thank-you party for Frank Sinatra at the family’s Hyannis Port, MA compound. At that point, JFK as president was still talking with Sinatra, as Sinatra would approach the president during the Hyannis Port visit to ask for a small favor.
Marilyn and Sinatra were destined to be both friends and occasional lovers. Marilyn liked Italian men and Sinatra possessed unmistakable charisma when it suited him.Sinatra met the actress in 1954 (while he was still married to gorgeous actress Ava Gardner) and was a friend of
Marilyn’s second husband Joe DiMaggio. Marilyn and Sinatra met when she was supposed to star in a film called The Girl in Pink Tights, alongside Sinatra. By this time she was a star and refused to do the film, once again causing trouble with 20th Century Fox. For his part, had DiMaggio known that Sinatra occasionally had sex with Marilyn it isn’t likely they would have remained friends. Sinatra and Marilyn reportedly spent the last night of her life together at Cal Neva Lodge in Las Vegas, owned by a mafia boss. The lodge was called Cal Neva as a combination of California and Nevada. On the California side of the border, gambling was illegal. On the Nevada side of the border gambling was illegal. However exactly on the border, gambling was not illegal and this was where the mafia lord had built his lodge. In 1935, an 11-year-old girl named Frances Gumm performed at Cal Neva with her sisters and was spotted by songwriter Burton Lane. Frances Gumm signed with MGM a few months later and was soon known as Judy Garland. Somewhere Over the Rainbow was played during Marilyn’s funeral. If Marilyn did in fact spend her last night with Sinatra and Sam Giancana, the mafia boss, then that meant her last night alive was Friday August 3, and she spent it gambling with Sinatra et al. It was here that the gangster with whom she was allegedly in love, tried to persuade her not to go public about her affair with President John F Kennedy. Certainly at one time Giancana and Marilyn were lovers, but that was quite some time before her death and before he became involved with McGuire.
Now before anyone goes getting all excited that here is proof the mafia killed Marilyn Monroe because of her threat to expose (pun) her affair with JFK one has to ask this question: why would Giancana give a crap(s) about protecting one of his mortal enemies? The Kennedys were no friends of the mob and Giancana was hardly affiliated with the brothers. It would seem to me that if anything Giancana would encourage, not discourage, Marilyn from a tell-all about the Prez. JFK and Bobby worked hard to curtail mob activities and were actively involved in persecuting them alongside Hoover. Contrary to rumour the brothers had a good relationship with Hoover. JFK was smart enough not to anger Hoover who knew about his legendary love life.When Judith Campbell, alleged mistress of mob bosses Sam Giancana and John Rosselli, wormed her way into JFK’s favor, Hoover took it upon himself to warn Kennedy in March of 1962 about the dangers of such intimate associations. Kennedy took his advice, realizing that if Hoover knew about these relationships, the American public could learn as well.
The relationship between Bobby and Hoover was a tense one, but according to Courtney Evans, the liaison between the two, there was never a direct confrontation. Many of Hoover’s grumbling was over trivial matters like Bobby’s shirtsleeves approach to office attire, bringing his dog to work (who soiled the carpet), playing darts in the AG’s office (which left marks in the woodwork). Evans believed that the two men were actually very similar: Even before Bobby Kennedy became Hoover’s boss, the FBI director had significantly changed his attitude on organized crime. Ever since Prohibition, Hoover had maintained that there was no national crime syndicate. Yes, there were criminal acts by Italian, Irish and Jewish gangsters, but they were on a local level and needed to be addressed by local law enforcement groups. Then in 1961 with Bobby Kennedy’s crusade against organized crime, Hoover made it a major priority. Giancana displaying loyalty to the Kennedys? Hardly.
Of course there was the assassination of the President in Dallas, Texas. As with Marilyn’s death people have speculated for decades whether JFK was murdered by the mob. As with Marilyn, no one will ever truly know that answer. We do know however that JFK was certainly murdered (in daylight by Oswald with the rifle – a new version of Clue). With Marilyn of course the possibility of murder was much more subtle. Since Bobby Kennedy tightened his belt against the mafia in 1961, and JFK was assassinated in 1963, the connection is very tangible. However that would lead one to speculate that it should have been Bobby, not JFK, who was assassinated in 1963 (although eventually he was in 1968. Certainly allowing six years to pass before the mafia would assassinate the man who was attempting to take down organized crime seems unlikely but the public will never know that answer either. As Sinatra was a friend of both Kennedy brothers and he also enjoyed strong ties to the mob, it is further unlikely that the mob murdered the brothers, if only out of respect for one of their own.
The disclosure that Marilyn was in Cal Neva with Sinatra and Giancana the night before she died was made by George Masters, Marilyn’s hair and make-up stylist, in recordings he made a month before his death in 1998.The cassette tapes were found by his nephew, Jeff Platts, and have now been made public. In a frail voice, Mr Masters can be heard on the recordings saying: ‘The night before she died, the last time I saw her, was in Lake Tahoe at the Cal-Neva Lodge. She was there with Sam Giancana, who was the head of the Mafia.’ Marilyn and Mr Masters apparently flew back to Los Angeles where he dropped her off at her home around 9am on Sunday August 5 1962. It has been documented that Marilyn was at Sinatra’s lodge two weekends before her death, but now it appears that she was called back for a one-to-one chat with Sam Giancana, a friend of Sinatra. ‘George specifically told me that Marilyn spent the evening with Sam Giancana. The only other person he mentioned that was there was [singer] Buddy Greco. ‘No Frank Sinatra, no Dean Martin. George also said that the person she was really in love with at that moment was Sam Giancana.’ Marilyn in love with a mobster? That sounds unlikely. For one thing, Giancana was intimately involved with Phyllis McGuire. Not only was she having an affair with Sinatra but purportedly she’d made plans with DiMaggio to re-marry him. If Marilyn was also besotted with the diminutive Giancana (which I wholeheartedly doubt) she was a confused woman indeed.
The Giancana – McGuire story itself was a scandal (was there anything in Hollywood in the 40s and 50s that wasn’t?). Phyllis McGuire was a singer, and the prettiest of the three McGuire sisters. “It’s amazing that it ever took place,” said FBI Agent William Roemer, in an interview with The Los Angeles Times in 1995 to promote the HBO film about the unlikely romance. “He was just as ugly as he can be and he wasn’t a cultured, refined man. I saw no redeeming human qualities about the guy. We put microphones in his headquarters and listened to him talk all the time. She had everything. She had beauty. She had money. Yet, she fell in love with this gangster. I could never figure it out. I have talked to her several times and she’s a lady. She’s refined and cultured. She’s intelligent and articulate. He was just the opposite.” Whatever it was, it kept gossip columnists in a tizzy in the 1960’s. Giancana first caught sight of McGuire during her engagement with her sisters at the Desert Inn. Giancana was 52 and a widower, Phyllis was not quite thirty. Like a many, Phyllis had developed a gambling problem and she owed $100,000. Giancana is said to have told the Desert Inn manager Moe Dalitz to “eat it,” meaning to forgive the debt. The gesture, along with a hefty dose of expensive flowers, seems to have sparked the romance. Sam and Phyllis soon fell in love. Years after Sam’s death, Phyllis admitted to writer Dominick Dunne that the two greatest losses in her life were her father and Sam.
Sinatra’s early beginnings as a crooner (and occasionally a singer) began at the age of 25 when he was a skinny young man living in New Jersey. After a stunned audience listened to him sing at a small venue he stated quite humbly to a friend, “I’m going to be the best singer in the world.The best singer that ever was.” He emulates Marilyn in his ambitions. One of her earlier thoughts about Hollywood was “I thought there must be thousands of girls like me, dreaming about becoming a movie star. But I’m not going to worry about them. I’m dreaming the hardest.” Both of their ambitions came true and because of this the two were to meet later in life.Unlike Marilyn however Sinatra enjoyed a good professional relationship with Columbia Pictures. In 1943, Sinatra signed a contract with Columbia Records, no connection to Columbia Pictures, and was instantly successful. His career was given a further boost since there was a musicians’ strike at the time his first records came out. He scored several hits during the strike, including the sensational ‘Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night of The Week’.(not if you’re Frank Sinatra).
Teenage fans were his biggest audiences and Louis B. Mayer, shrewd businessman that he was, bought Sinatra’s contract with RKO. Mayer signed Sinatra to MGM under a $1.5 million contract. Sinatra became America’s top movie stars, and when he returned to New York’s Paramount for a concert, a crowd of over 35,000 fans caused a near riot. This became known as the Columbus Day Riot! Even Marilyn couldn’t brag about such an accomplishment. Of course in another ironic situation, the CDR wouldn’t be the only label Sinatra carried for his public reputation and that would involve Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio and although it involved a small riot of sorts, it was not a notch in Sinatra’s belt..
Sinatra had his own litany of lovers: Angie Dickinson, Judy Garland, Lauren Bacall, Juliet Prowse and of course Marilyn. He was married four times and had three children with his first wife. Like Marilyn, Sinatra was manic-depressive (bipolar) and suffered from bouts of depression. He once stated, “being an 18-karat manic-depressive, and having lived a life of violent emotional contradictions, I have an over-acute capacity for sadness as well as elation.” Sinatra saw Marilyn again and began an affair with her. Marilyn talked about marrying Sinatra, but Sinatra broke off the affair in fall of 1961 (around the same time he saw future fiancée Juliet Prowse) Sinatra was engaged o South African-born actress and dancer Prowse for a short while from fall 1961 to early 1962, before Sinatra broke the engagement late that year because Prowse refused to
give up her career (echoes of DiMaggio and Marilyn). The two first met on the set of the 1960 film Can-Can. Marilyn was devastated by Sinatra’s affair and engagement to Prowse. Lena Pepitone, in her biography “Marilyn Monroe Confidential“, wrote: “with Frank Sinatra, she was the Queen of Hollywood. Without him she was nothing.” This account was written after Pepitone recounted a date Marilyn had with Sinatra not long before he began dating Prowse. Pepitone wrote: Marilyn wouldn’t eat a thing call day because “I have to be skinny for Frankie.” (Instead she drank champagne, her favourite drink). When Sinatra arrived, Marilyn flew out of her room and into his arms, looking like an exotic bird in an emerald dress, her hair perfect. Sinatra presented her with a $35,000 pair of emerald earrings.” Later Marilyn gave the earrings away, as she had no use for them.
After Marilyn learned that Sinatra was dating Prowse, she began comparing her own lovely legs to that of the lithe dancer. Pepitone wrote that feeling slighted, she contacted several friends by phone asking them “what was wrong” with her legs.Once again Marilyn’s insecurity about her beauty surfaced, this time due to what she felt was a rejection from a lover. Actually the two women had a great deal in common: both were well-known sex symbols in their day; both had become involved with the same man; and both were independent career woman, refusing to abandon their careers even for the love of a husband.
Of course where there was Marilyn, there was always scandal. Marilyn’s long-time friend Jeanne Carmen, also a Pin-Up Queen, admitted that she and Marilyn would attend sex parties with the three Kennedy brothers, Peter Lawford, and other women and men. She explained, “there was nudity, drinking, and people would pair off…” Eventually Frank Sinatra and his “rat pack” seems to have joined one of the parties. The rat pack included Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and Lawford. Strangely at a New York party, Lawford’s wife was also present.The romps were supposedly held at John Kennedy’s suite at the upmarket Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan. The Carlyle became known as ‘the New York White House’ during President Kennedy’s administration. He was rumoured to have spent the night in the suite with Marilyn after she sang Happy Birthday, Mr President at his 45th birthday celebration in 1962 at Madison Square Garden.
In Los Angeles Sinatra made Marilyn a gift of a small dog. Marilyn named it Mafia and called it Maf
for short. Sinatra wasn’t too happy. “Why don’t ya call it Fifi or something?” Marilyn thought the idea of a dog named Mafia was hilarious. She certainly was open about Sinatra’s involvement with the mob a fact that irritated him. Sinatra’s alleged personal and professional links were with organized crime figures such as Carlo Gambino, Sam Giancana, and Lucky Luciano. With his alleged Mafia ties, his ardent New Deal politics and his friendship with John F. Kennedy, (another one of Marilyn’s lovers), he was a natural target for J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI. The FBI kept Sinatra under surveillance for almost five decades beginning in the 1940s. The documents included accounts of Sinatra as the target of death threats and extortion schemes. They also portray rampant paranoia and strange obsessions with the FBI. The files included his rendezvous with prostitutes, and his extramarital affair with Ava Gardner, which preceded their marriage. Actually, since the FBI were indeed documenting Sinatra’s movements and associations, I would state he wasn’t paranoid or obsessed. It seems to me Sinatra was quite right about the FBI. Sinatra’s alliances also had a practical aspect. They were adaptive mechanisms for behavior motivated by self-interest and inner anxieties.
It is no wonder that Sinatra had ties with the mob, and not for sinister reasons. He hailed from Sicily where the crime rate was astronomical and where the original Italian mafia ruled the country. Indeed Frank’s small village, Lercaro, gave rise to a notorious mafioso named Lucky Luciano. Luciano became “the founder of the modern mafia” in America.It is very likely that the Sinatras and the Lucianos knew one another. This kinship was very important in America, as in Italy.
Marilyn had her own odd moments with Sinatra. On one occasion, Marilyn stayed the night at Sinatra’s home. He invited some friends over for a poker game. Marilyn, nude, wandered close to the room where the men were playing, peeking at them through a small crack in a door. When Sinatra realized she was there, he exploded in rage, jumping up from his chair, and, grabbing the naked Marilyn, he pushed her back into her room. Initially his friends were confused, not knowing what had happened to anger him. It was one thing to join a sex party in NYC or LA, quite another to be embarrassed in front of his poker friends.
This wasn’t the only business with Sinatra, Marilyn and a door.After DiMaggio and Marilyn divorced, Sinatra joined his friend DiMaggio and the writer James Bacon on a raid set up by DiMaggio, who was in pursuit of Marilyn and her lover Hal Schafer. Instead of raiding their apartment, they raided the apartment of another woman, whose name was Florence Kotz. Kotz was a makeup artist in both Hollywood and Broadway. She sued both DiMaggio and Sinatra for the intrusion. The incident became known nationally as a public humiliation for all three men involved. Sinatra’s ridiculous defense was that DiMaggio and Bacon raided Kotz’s apartment while he stayed in a car, getting married. Seriously. He didn’t state that his new wife was Marilyn Monroe.
Marilyn’s final collapse came swiftly and was almost unbearable to watch. Frank Sinatra, with whom Marilyn had an on-off affair, invited Peter Lawford and his wife Pat to his resort, the Cal-Neva Lodge, for the weekend of July 27, 1962, less than two weeks before Marilyn died. Marilyn said she would like to go too, and although Pat had serious misgivings, knowing Marilyn’s fragile state, the three arrived together by private plane. Joe Langford, a Sinatra security employee at Cal-Neva, recalled: ‘When Frank saw Marilyn, he was pretty shocked at how depressed she was. As soon as he got her settled in, he got on the phone with her psychiatrist [presumably Dr Greenson] and started in on the guy. “What the hell kind of treatment are you giving her? She’s a mess. Why isn’t she in a sanitarium?” He couldn’t believe how broken down she was.’
Marilyn’s ‘vitamin shots‘ as she called them alarmed them all. Langford confirmed: ‘She opened her purse and pulled out those syringes. I was standing right there with Mr Sinatra and Pat Lawford. Marilyn was very casual about it. She was looking for something else and just pulled them out and put them on the table. Sinatra went white, like a sheet. He said “Marilyn. Jesus Christ. What are they for?” She said “Oh, those are for my vitamin shots.” Pat looked like she was going to faint. “Oh my God, Marilyn,” she said. Then Marilyn said “It’s all right Pat. I know what I’m doing.” Marilyn finally found what she was looking for: a pin. As we all stood there with our mouths open, she opened a bottle of pills and picked one out. Then – and I had never seen anything like this before – she put a small hole at the end of the capsule, and swallowed it. “Gets into your bloodstream faster that way,” she said. She turned back to Pat and said “See, I told you I knew what I was doing.”‘
“Later, Marilyn collapsed in her room and was found, just in time, by Pat. Frank Sinatra didn’t know what to think about any of it,’ said his valet, George Jacobs. ‘He was upset, though. He loved Marilyn, yes. But for her to maybe die at Cal-Neva while he was there? That would have been terrible. So he said: “Get her out of here and get her out of here now.” And that was it. We had to do what he said. I mean, the woman was sick. But as compassionate as Sinatra was, he had a line and she crossed it.’ Stacy Baron, another guest staying at the lodge, recalled: ‘I was in the lobby and I saw Peter Lawford on one side of her and Pat on the other side and they were practically carrying this woman out. I got a real shock. It was Marilyn Monroe.’
One night Marilyn was at a party with Sinatra. She got very drunk and may have taken pills. The next day Sinatra found photographs of Marilyn in “utter disarray.” Sinatra asked a friend what he should do with them. The reply was, “let’s burn them,” which they did in a kitchen sink. It might have been better if Sinatra had shown the pictures to Marilyn, perhaps functioning as a deterrent from becoming so intoxicated as to fall unconscious at a party. Terrible things could have happened to the actress while in such a vulnerable state.. After Marilyn died, Sinatra said to a friend, “this is too depressing. Let’s get the hell out of here,” and he and the companion fled Los Angeles for Las Vegas.
Before Marilyn died, she made a final phone call to Peter Lawford, a member of the Rat Pack, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, and Sinatra, Sinatra’s group of “boys”. Her famous comments were “say goodbye to the President. And say goodbye to you too, because you’re a nice guy.” Her last words were believed to be a “cry for help” and a plea for Lawford to send someone to help her which he did do. Lawford contacted Marilyn’s lawyer,Mickey Rudin, asking him to attend the house and check on Marilyn. When Rudin called the house Eunice Murray told him Marilyn was fine, and Rudin failed to attend. Sinatra died on May 14, 1998, aged 82, after suffering a heart attack. Sinatra had suffered from ill health for the last years of his life, and had been frequently hospitalized for heart and breathing problems, high blood pressure, pneumonia and bladder cancer, as well as suffering from dementia. His final words were, “I’m losing.” Perhaps he was referring to a bet he had placed at Cal Neva.