“I DON’T WANT ANYBODY IN HERE WITHOUT COATS AND TIES,” SINATRA SNAPPED.

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From the archives of Esquire magazine, featured in their 70th anniversary issue–

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In the winter of 1965, writer Gay Talese arrived in Los Angeles with an assignment from Esquire to profile Frank Sinatra. The legendary singer was approaching fifty, under the weather, out of sorts, and unwilling to be interviewed. So Talese remained in L.A., hoping Sinatra might recover and reconsider, and he began talking to many of the people around Sinatra — his friends, his associates, his family, his countless hangers-on — and observing the man himself wherever he could. The result, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” ran in April 1966 and became one of the most celebrated magazine stories ever published, a pioneering example of what came to be called New Journalism — a work of rigorously faithful fact enlivened with the kind of vivid storytelling that had previously been reserved for fiction. The piece conjures a deeply rich portrait of one of the era’s most guarded figures and tells a larger story about entertainment, celebrity, and America itself. Here are a few choice excerpts from the original Esquire story– a link to the epic piece in its entirety, after the jump.

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Early 1960s, LA — Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra. — Image by © Michael Ochs Archives/Corbis.

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I‘m for anything that gets you through the night, be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniel.”

–Frank Sinatra

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Frank Sinatra, holding a glass of bourbon in one hand and a cigarette in the other, stood in a dark corner of the bar between two attractive but fading blondes who sat waiting for him to say something. But he said nothing; he had been silent during much of the evening, except now in this private club in Beverly Hills he seemed even more distant, staring out through the smoke and semidarkness into a large room beyond the bar where dozens of young couples sat huddled around small tables or twisted in the center of the floor to the clamorous clang of folk-rock music blaring from the stereo. The two blondes knew, as did Sinatra’s four male friends who stood nearby, that it was a bad idea to force conversation upon him when he was in this mood of sullen silence, a mood that had hardly been uncommon during this first week of November, a month before his fiftieth birthday.

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Hyannis Port, MA, Circa 1965–  Singer Frank Sinatra with then actress girlfriend Mia Farrow on deck of the yacht, Southern Breeze.  His look implies “Hit the road, Mac.”  –photo by Bill Eppridge for LIFE.

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Sinatra had been working in a film that he now disliked, could not wait to finish; he was tired of all the publicity attached to his dating the twenty-year-old Mia Farrow, who was not in sight tonight; he was angry that a CBS television documentary of his life, to be shown in two weeks, was reportedly prying into his privacy, even speculating on his possible friendship with Mafia leaders; he was worried about his starring role in an hour-long NBC show entitled Sinatra — A Man and His Music, which would require that he sing eighteen songs with a voice that at this particular moment, just a few nights before the taping was to begin, was weak and sore and uncertain. Sinatra was ill. He was the victim of an ailment so common that most people would consider it trivial. But when it gets to Sinatra it can plunge him into a state of anguish, deep depression, panic, even rage. Frank Sinatra had a cold.

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Dec 26th, 1976, Terrytown, NK —  Frank Sinatra is shown in his dressing room at Westchester Premier Theater in Sept. 1976 with (L-R, standing): Gregory DePalma, a defendant in the case; Sinatra; defendant Thomas Marson who was severed from the trial because of poor health; the late Carlo Gambino; and Jimmy (the Weasel) Fratiano.  Kneeling in front is defendant Richard Fusco. Others in the picture were hidden under to bolster the testimony of its key witness. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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Sinatra with a cold is Picasso without paint, Ferrari without fuel — only worse. For the common cold robs Sinatra of that uninsurable jewel, his voice, cutting into the core of his confidence, and it affects not only his own psyche but also seems to cause a kind of psychosomatic nasal drip within dozens of people who work for him, drink with him, love him, depend on him for their own welfare and stability. A Sinatra with a cold can, in a small way, send vibrations through the entertainment industry and beyond as surely as a President of the United States, suddenly sick, can shake the national economy.

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Franks Sinatra and crew in 1960′s Ocean’s Eleven, the Rat Pack powerhouse film.  © 1960 – Sid Avery

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The two blondes, who seemed to be in their middle thirties, were preened and polished, their matured bodies softly molded within tight dark suits. They sat, legs crossed, perched on the high bar stools. They listened to the music. Then one of them pulled out a Kent and Sinatra quickly placed his gold lighter under it and she held his hand, looked at his fingers: they were nubby and raw, and the pinkies protruded, being so stiff from arthritis that he could barely bend them. He was, as usual, immaculately dressed. He wore an oxford-grey suit with a vest, a suit conservatively cut on the outside but trimmed with flamboyant silk within; his shoes, British, seemed to be shined even on the bottom of the soles. He also wore, as everybody seemed to know, a remarkably convincing black hairpiece, one of sixty that he owns, most of them under the care of an inconspicuous little grey-haired lady who, holding his hair in a tiny satchel, follows him around whenever he performs. She earns $400 a week. The most distinguishing thing about Sinatra’s face are his eyes, clear blue and alert, eyes that within seconds can go cold with anger, or glow with affection, or, as now, reflect a vague detachment that keeps his friends silent and distant.

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Circa 1963– Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin & unident. man during recording session for movie “Come Blow Your Horn.”  –photo by Gjon Mili for LIFE

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Dec 15th, 1963, Las Vegas — Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Danny Thomas, Lucille Ball, Frank Sinatra stand around a cake for the eleventh anniversary of the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. On the extreme left is Sands President Jack Entratter — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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Jan 27th, 1961, Manhattan, NY — Jan Murray (L) sits alongside Rat Pack members Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Frank Sinatra as the group unwinds backstage at Carnegie Hall after entertaining at a benefit performance in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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Circa 1950s, Hollywood–  Just clowining a bit are Sammy Davis, Jr., and pal Frank Sinatra both attending a formal Hollywood party. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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Hollywood– Frank Sinatra and Peter Lawford, two of Hollywood’s most debonair stars, have been long-time friends and golfing cronies. They decided that what Hollywood needed was another great restaurant so they formed a business partnership and became hosts of an Italian-type nitery. Business is booming but from the way they are solemnly staring at the envelope in Frank’s hands – it may be a bill! — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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Sep 14th, 1957, London — Link Frankie and Lauren. London. The London Evening Standard reported September 14th that Frank Sinatra and Lauren Bacall, shown here together at a Hollywood Premiere in 1955, “Plan to marry within six months.” Standard columnist Thomad Wiseman said she will find Sinatra “An even tougher assignment” then her former husband, the late Humphrey Bogart. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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November 1956, Costa Brava, Spain — When Frank Sinatra heard of romance brewing between Ava Gardner and Mario Cabre in 1950, he rushed over to Spain with a bagful of jewels to woo Ava back. Here they are sitting in a garden overlooking the beautiful Costa Brava.  Sinatra, second from right, chain smokes… — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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Nov 3rd, 1951, NY–  Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner leaving the train after arriving from Philadelphia, where it is reported they took out a marriage license. Sinatra was his usual charming self, referring to photographers as a “bunch of crumbs,” and told a reporter that offered to get his checked baggage, “All I’d let you do for me is press my pants.” — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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Frank Sinatra eating breakfast with his daughter Nancy while his wife Nancy brings the jam. Undated photo. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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Circa 1940s– Singer Frank Sinatra relaxes in his dressing room at the Paramount Theater in New York City. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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Read the full story HERE

NPR covers the story HERE

8 thoughts on ““I DON’T WANT ANYBODY IN HERE WITHOUT COATS AND TIES,” SINATRA SNAPPED.

  1. Gay is truly amazing. I was fortunate enough to grow up with him around a fair amount as he was great friends with my Father. If you haven’t done so already check out “New York is a City of Things Unnoticed.” Its my favorite piece of his.

  2. There are many voices that encompass American music. Some notably recognizable. Others that today still remain obscure. Frank Sinatra , embody all that was powerful and great about this country. Yet still let the world see that even on top you are as vulnerable as you were at the bottom. Sinatra’s passion for his trade transends the typical rock star rhetoric of today. He loved what he did. At least in in this nostalgic Romanists eyes. And he accomplished this with the guts and style that today remain incomparable.

  3. Sinatra’s only real talent was his singing. Other than that,he was nothing more than a New Jersey bully and mob wanna be .

  4. So here’s a real cool tidbit~

    Bill Eppridge, the LIFE photographer who snapped the pic of Frank and Mia on the yacht shot me an email and had this to say–

    I just saw your website, and read the caption under the photograph of Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow on the yacht. Contrary to your caption, Frank was inviting writer Tommy Thompson and myself onboard the yacht. We boarded, spent perhaps an hour with him and Mia photographing and interviewing them. Frank and Tommy were old friends. We were on assignment for Life magazine (I was a staff photographer for the magazine at that time, and Tommy was a staff writer). We had a delightful time with two thoroughly delightful people on a rather well appointed yacht. The photo that you posted to your site is one of only a few left – Life lost the onboard photographs that I took – too bad!

    Cheerz,
    Bill Eppridge
    http://www.billeppridge.com

  5. Harlan Ellison mentioned in a televised interview with Tom Snyder that Talese actually radically toned down what actually occurred during his encounter with Sinatra at a pool table cited in the Esquire article. Sinatra was out-of-control drunk and when the famously truculent Ellison didn’t back down and follow Sinatra’s instructions, Dean Martin and Brad Dexter had to pull Sinatra away and walk him off. I think Ellison’s reminiscence of this is available somewhere on youtube, or was not too long ago.

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