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Old 05-20-2005, 03:51 PM
Nordahs Nordahs is offline
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Frank Sinatra - WWII Service

I just read the Staff Report Entitled "Why didn't Frank Sinatra serve in the military during World War II?", and I see that the date posted at the top in some time in 99, about 6 years ago. Well, I hope I am not flogging a dead horse, but I feel I should point out something very significant - perhaps so mush so that SDSTAFF Jill may have to update the post...

My grandfather, during World War II, served at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and being slightly too old for active duty military service (born 1908), and having the appropriate background, was assigned the duty of performing all entrance physicals for new recruits and draftees.

One day, early in the war, a young, skinny guy was rushed via the 'back way' into he building where all examination were performed. Grandpa was assigned as one of the team of three docs who examined the young man, who as you may have guessed, was one Francis Sinatra, of Hoboken, NJ. Grandpa did not know him, but one of the other doctors did, and said something. Although Frank was not the star he would be in the post-war era, he was known for big band and radio programs, and he was certainly recognizable in New York. In fact, they brought him the back door that day because he has already developed problems with crowds of girls following his every move.

The common belief about Sinatra’s failure to serve has always had to do with his ears - they were ruptured; punctured; he was tone deaf - something like that. Grandpa said that not only did he pass the exam with flying colors (he was an "A") but that his ears, which my grandfather personally inspected, were totally fine. He even scoffed at the notion in later years when he heard it parroted on TV or in an interview. He would say "The man was a singer for god's sake - how could he have anything other than perfect hearing?! If his ears were damaged, he wouldn’t have been Frank Sinatra!"

At the end of the exam, the docs pronounced him fit to serve, and the managers had a fit. According the Grandpa, Sinatra seemed OK with the idea of serving, but his agent was incensed by it. The agent raised a sh**storm with Grandpa's C.O., and a few days later, word came down from the top that Frankie was to be listed "4-F". Before he left though, he was nice enough to pose for a couple of photos with the exam team, and even autographed something for one of the other doc's wife.

So, there is your story - from a man who was there. I heard it a hundred times growing up, and I’ve seen the photos. I imagine if you looked up the physicians’ report, my grandfather’s name would be signed at the bottom. Grandpa never knew for sure what machinations had resulted in the 4-F ruling, but there was nothing, medically, that would have justified him receiving it.

Just as an aside, Grandpa and Mr. Sinatra kept in touch over the years – Christmas cards and the like. Gramps always said he was a nice man and polite man. When Gramps died a few years back, Mr. Sinatra even sent a nice card (Probably signed by his manager, for all I know). Oh, and, before you feel the need to point it out, I am aware that Frank is dead, too. Grandpa died before Ol' Blue Eyes.

Hope that was illuminating.

Last edited by C K Dexter Haven; 05-20-2005 at 09:03 PM.. Reason: Added link -- CKDH
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  #2  
Old 05-20-2005, 09:05 PM
C K Dexter Haven C K Dexter Haven is offline
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Welcome to the Straight Dope Message Boards, Nordahs, glad to have you with us.

When you start a thread, it's helpful to other readers if you provide a link to the staff report being discussed. Saves searching time, and helps keep us all on the same page.

No biggie, I've edited the link into your post. You'll know for next time. And, as I say, welcome!
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  #3  
Old 05-21-2005, 02:36 AM
dougie_monty dougie_monty is offline
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I smell a rat!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nordahs
I just read the Staff Report Entitled [url=" http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/msinatra.html"]
The common belief about Sinatra’s failure to serve has always had to do with his ears - they were ruptured; punctured; he was tone deaf - something like that. Grandpa said that not only did he pass the exam with flying colors (he was an "A") but that his ears, which my grandfather personally inspected, were totally fine. He even scoffed at the notion in later years when he heard it parroted on TV or in an interview. He would say "The man was a singer for god's sake - how could he have anything other than perfect hearing?! If his ears were damaged, he wouldn’t have been Frank Sinatra!"

At the end of the exam, the docs pronounced him fit to serve, and the managers had a fit. According the Grandpa, Sinatra seemed OK with the idea of serving, but his agent was incensed by it. The agent raised a sh**storm with Grandpa's C.O., and a few days later, word came down from the top that Frankie was to be listed "4-F". Before he left though, he was nice enough to pose for a couple of photos with the exam team, and even autographed something for one of the other doc's wife.

So, there is your story - from a man who was there. I heard it a hundred times growing up, and I’ve seen the photos. I imagine if you looked up the physicians’ report, my grandfather’s name would be signed at the bottom. Grandpa never knew for sure what machinations had resulted in the 4-F ruling, but there was nothing, medically, that would have justified him receiving it.
Color me cynical, but I find it interesting that an agent would have any latitude vis-a-vis the brass at Sinatra's induction center. Why wouldn't the CO tell the agent to go to hell?
I note that when Elvis Presley was inducted (and we weren't even at war then), even the autocratic Colonel Tom Parker did not attempt to contest Elvis' induction. Perhaps the CO at Elvis' induction center was less amenable to "financial inducement" (if you get my drift!) than the CO at Sinatra's. In any case, I think it was underhanded. (Elvis served with distinction, and I have no reason to believe that Sinatra would not have, granted he doesn't seem to be the kind of man I would have wanted to have in a combat unit!)
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Old 05-21-2005, 03:19 AM
rfgdxm rfgdxm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dougie_monty
Color me cynical, but I find it interesting that an agent would have any latitude vis-a-vis the brass at Sinatra's induction center. Why wouldn't the CO tell the agent to go to hell?
I note that when Elvis Presley was inducted (and we weren't even at war then), even the autocratic Colonel Tom Parker did not attempt to contest Elvis' induction. Perhaps the CO at Elvis' induction center was less amenable to "financial inducement" (if you get my drift!) than the CO at Sinatra's. In any case, I think it was underhanded. (Elvis served with distinction, and I have no reason to believe that Sinatra would not have, granted he doesn't seem to be the kind of man I would have wanted to have in a combat unit!)
Two things occurs to me. At the time Elvis was inducted, he was a star in an upstart musical genre that likely the brass didn't like. That the brass may have liked Sinatra's music may have been a factor.

The other is that for Sinatra there was a war on. The brass may have felt he could better serve his country by patriotically publicly supporting the war on the entertainment side rather than on the front line. IOW, it wasn't cash bribery, but instead Sinatra sang the tune of the brass.
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Old 05-21-2005, 03:37 AM
dougie_monty dougie_monty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rfgdxm
Two things occurs to me. At the time Elvis was inducted, he was a star in an upstart musical genre that likely the brass didn't like. That the brass may have liked Sinatra's music may have been a factor.

The other is that for Sinatra there was a war on. The brass may have felt he could better serve his country by patriotically publicly supporting the war on the entertainment side rather than on the front line. IOW, it wasn't cash bribery, but instead Sinatra sang the tune of the brass.
Perhaps. I understand that Reagan, too, was not in combat, though he did join the army. Some of those stars, like Crosby, Zeppo Marx, Jack Benny, Bogart, etc., either were too old to induct or would have been lousy combat personnel.
That Sinatra's agent would have had more clout than Parker is still puzzling to me. (Though I know that when Elvis died and Parker took Elvis' will to probate court in Memphis, the court voided the will--which gave Parker half of Elvis' estate--instead awarding the lion's share to Lisa Marie and telling Parker to go to hell!
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Old 05-21-2005, 07:24 AM
John W. Kennedy John W. Kennedy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rfgdxm
Two things occurs to me. At the time Elvis was inducted, he was a star in an upstart musical genre that likely the brass didn't like.
So was Sinatra. The same jokes were made about Sinatra vis-à-vis Bing Crosby that would be made a generation later about Bobby Darrin vis-à-vis Sinatra.
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Old 05-21-2005, 10:53 AM
MLS MLS is offline
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It has often been alleged that Mr. Sinatra had Mafia connections. Couldn't that have had something to do with it?
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Old 05-21-2005, 05:54 PM
RM Mentock RM Mentock is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nordahs
perhaps so mush so that SDSTAFF Jill may have to update the post...
Jill did say that she thought he was a big fake...
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  #9  
Old 05-22-2005, 01:47 AM
samclem samclem is offline
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Sinatra was examined and rejected at the Newark, N.J. induction station in December of 1943. He received a 4F rating that same day. He was rejected because of a punctured ear drum. So, your grandfather had nothing to do with Sinatra's classification at that time.

In December of 1944, bowing to the public's perception that athletes who had received 4-F classifications could still perform, the War Mobilization Board directed the Selective Service to re-examine all 4-F's. This directive included actors as well as athletes.

Sinatra was examined again on February 8th of 1945. He reported to Newark, and was taken to Governor's Island(Fort Jay)for three days. His case was referred to Washington. He was classified as 2A-F on March 3rd of that year. This was an occupational deferrment for a person not physically qualified to serve in the military.

Nordahs. Can you offer any info as to exactly when your grandfather examined Sinatra?

People's memories are notoriously faulty after the fact.

I think Jill can continue her life without worrying about revising her article.
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