Orson Welles can't have Sinatra on the show because their microphone doesn't have handles...

… and Orson can’t carry Sinatra and the rest of the show at the same time.

You know how jokes sometimes simply die and leave no remains? Well, this joke is from the Orson Welles Radio Almanac; specifically, the first episode, dated January 26, 1944. It features Groucho Marx as himself and Martha Stewart as a singer and actress nobody’s heard of.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen reference to Frankie as somewhat anemic and sickly; at least one 1940s cartoon has Sinatra as a chicken who can’t stand on his own feet and requires a blood transfusion.

So, what’s the reference? Is it just that he was 4-F for WWII due to his punctured eardrum and shaky personality? Is there something I’m missing?

I think it’s mostly that Sinatra was pretty scrawny lookingas a young man.

And let’s move this over to Cafe Society.

Well, that would explain all those cartoons showing him as able to hide behind his own microphone stand, but, honestly, he doesn’t look all that thin to me. I guess this is partially down to how the idea of being ‘husky’ has gone from being seen as desirable to being seen as overweight, if not obese.

Here he is without a jacketon in 1953’s From to Eternity. At this point he was in his late 30s and had probably bulked up some from the start of his career in the early 40s. He was also fairly short; most references say 5’ 7".

Well, he was certainly nobody’s muscle man, and I suppose it can be difficult to predict what the caricaturists will seize on to exaggerate and turn into a person’s defining physical attribute.

Yeah, that’s the thing. Sinatra’s skinniness was what was used to define him in his early years, like Bing Crosby’s droopy eyes, Maurice Chevalier’s lower lip, and so forth.

I was under the impression that he was making a cutting remark about Sinatra’s inability to perform to Welles’s standard of radio excellence.

1947 cartoon featuring Sinatra as a skinny canary, Bing Crosby as a parrot, and Sylvester the cat. Note how Sinatra keeps popping vitamins!

I guess he had no trouble landing his role in The Man With The Golden Arm!