I just listened to “This American Life”'s hour-long tribute commemorating what would have been Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday, and a few other pieces that seem to have been engineered as a campaign by his estate.
The first conclusion I have come to is that Sinatra was a very good signer, perhaps a great singer, and perhaps someone with an instinct for musical arrangements and emotional performances.
The second conclusion I have come to is that that’s all there is to admire about him. He was a small man, a petty man, and a bully. He traveled with what was essentially a hired gang of lickspittles, from whom his utmost requirement was devotion and deference. He was quick to anger when his “authority” was challenged, and he lashed out frequently at imagined slights.
His sense of style was that of a thug who had come into money, ready to spend whatever it took to buy class, and boy did he talk about “class,” with an obsession that only someone who didn’t have any class would.
I listened to a reading of Gay Talese’s famous 1966 profile of Sinatra in Esquire magazine—“Frank Sinatra Has a Cold”—and I looked it up for further reading. It’s a work of genius, but the genius revealed is Gay Talese, not the petty, insecure bully that he wrote about.