Showing posts with label Sinatra. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sinatra. Show all posts

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

High Hopes

Where'd that come from?!

That was my idea, I asked for it.

ROCKY [ considers for a moment ] :
He's very good, Sinatra.

He is.

            Jack’s the nation’s favorite guy.
            Everyone wants to back Jack,
            Jack is on the right track.
            And he’s got HIGH HOPES,
            High apple-pie-in-the-sky hopes.

Beginning as far back as 1945, Jack Kennedy spent as much free time as possible in Hollywood, romancing movie stars like Gene Tierney. Once his sister, Patricia, married Peter Lawford in 1954 and bought Louis B. Mayer’s house in Santa Monica, Jack had a real base of operations in southern California. He used it frequently and in time began to socialize with the Rat Pack at Puccini’s, the Beverly Hills restaurant that Frank and Peter owned with Hank Sanicola and Mickey Rudin.

            Through Peter, whom Frank now called “brother-in-Lawford,” Kennedy became a close friend of Sinatra, who introduced the young senator to many women. FBI files contain information regarding some of the women that the two men enjoyed in Palm Springs, Las Vegas, and New York City. The files also mention that Kennedy and Sinatra were “said” to be the subjects of “affidavits from two mulatto prostitutes in New York” in possession of Confidential magazine, which ceased publication in 1958. The Justice Department files also state: “It is a known fact that the Sands Hotel is owned by hoodlums, and that while the Senator, Sinatra and Lawford were there, show girls from all over the town were running in and out of the Senator’s suite.”

            “I’m not going to talk about Jack and his broads … because I just can’t,” said Peter Lawford in 1983, “and … well … I’m not proud of this … but … all I will say is that I was Frank’s pimp and Frank was Jack’s. It sounds terrible now, but then it was really a lot of fun.”

            Among the women Frank introduced to Jack Kennedy was a striking twenty-five-year-old brunette named Judith Campbell (later Judith Campbell Exner), with whom Sinatra had had a brief affair, which ended when she refused to participate in his sexual parties, telling him that his tastes were “too kinky” for her.You’re so square, Frank had said after he brought a black girl to bed with him and Judith. “Get with it. Swing a little.”

            Frank introduced her to Jack Kennedy in Las Vegas and provided his own suite for the room service lunch the two shared on February 8, 1960, a lunch that launched a two-year affair that would include twice-a-day phone calls, a four-day stay at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, and romantic interludes in Palm Beach, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Jack Kennedy’s home in Georgetown while Jackie was away. They met twenty times for intimate lunches in the White House in 1961, and telephone records show that Judith called him seventy times.

            Knowing that Judith Campbell had started an intimate relationship with Kennedy, Frank introduced her to his other good friend, Sam Giancana. He told her: “Wake up and realize what you’ve got in the palm of your hand.” Both men enjoyed a simultaneous intimacy with the young woman, who unintentionally but inexorably brought the underworld into a relationship with the White House.

            “Jack knew all about Sam and me, and we used to discuss him,” said Judith Campbell Exner in 1983. “He was angry about my seeing him. He had all the normal reactions that would take place between two people that cared for each other. Yes, he was jealous.”

            Extolling “that old Jack magic,” Frank worked closely with Ambassador Kennedy throughout Jack Kennedy’s presidential campaign, especially in New Jersey, which was a key state, and where Sinatra’s mother’s connection with Mayor John V. Kenny of Jersey City proved beneficial.

            Not everyone in the Kennedy camp was pleased with Frank’s involvement. “We wouldn’t let him campaign openly in the primaries,” said Paul Corbin, a Kennedy aide. “We couldn’t even let Peter Lawford in because of the Rat Pack image. Frank made his contribution to the Wisconsin and West Virginia primaries over the jukeboxes—that’s it.”

            Throughout both primaries, voters heard the smooth, insouciant Sinatra voice singing “High Hopes” with the lyric reworked by Sammy Cahn:

            Jack’s the nation’s favorite guy.
            Everyone wants to back Jack,
            Jack is on the right track.
            And he’s got HIGH HOPES,
            High apple-pie-in-the-sky hopes.

            “I went into every tavernkeeper in the state and paid them twenty dollars to press that button and play Frank’s song for Jack, but that’s all he did in West Virginia,” said Corbin.

            But unbeknownst to Corbin and the rest of Kennedy’s political operatives, Frank made a much more substantial contribution to the West Virginia primary. FBI wiretaps showed large Mafia donations to the state campaign that were apparently disbursed by Sinatra. This under-the-table money was used to make payoffs to key election officials. And Sinatra’s friend Sam Giancana dispatched Paul “Skinny” D’Amato to the state to use his influence with the sheriffs, who gambled in the illegal gaming rooms of Greenbriar County. These men controlled the state’s political machine, and many of them were gamblers who had been customers at Skinny’s 500 Club in Atlantic City; some still owed Skinny money, and others were more than happy to do him a favor, which was rewarded from a cash supply of more than fifty thousand dollars. Their job was to get the vote out for Kennedy—any way they could.

            Owning a few politicians in Illinois, Giancana knew the advantages of being close to political power, and decided to help Frank help the Kennedy campaign, figuring that if JFK won, Frank would be able to put an end to the federal surveillance Giancana was now experiencing every time he turned around. It wasn’t that John F. Kennedy was his favorite candidate; he was simply the least undesirable at the time.

            Kennedy had not wanted to enter the West Virginia primary, but after an indecisive win over Hubert Humphrey in Wisconsin, where his victory was discounted because it came from strongly Catholic districts, it was felt he had to go into West Virginia to prove that he could draw Protestant votes. Frank was concerned about West Virginia because he knew that it was virulent anti-Catholic territory. Furthermore, the United Mine Workers there had already endorsed Hubert Humphrey in retaliation for Bobby Kennedy’s role as chief counsel of the McClellan rackets committee. This made Giancana’s money and men all the more important.
            With Skinny D’Amato quietly working the hollows of West Virginia, Ambassador Kennedy recruited Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., to stump the state with his son, knowing that the Roosevelt name was revered throughout West Virginia. The ambassador also had FDR, Jr., send letters postmarked Hyde Park, New York—President Roosevelt’s home—to every voter, praising Senator Kennedy. The ambassador knew it would be almost impossible for any miner to vote against a man endorsed by the son of the president who gave coal miners the right to organize and to make a living wage for the first time in their lives. Throughout the state, Franklin Roosevelt, Jr., held up two fingers pressed tightly together, saying, “My daddy and Jack Kennedy’s daddy were just like this.”
            “Frank Sinatra would’ve done anything to get Jack elected, so it’s kind of ironic that he almost capsized the campaign early on when he tried to break the blacklist by hiring Albert Maitz,” said Peter Lawford. “God, was that a mess. The ambassador took care of it in the end, but it was almost the end of old Frankie-boy as far as the family was concerned.”
            On March 21, 1960, Murray Schumach wrote a story in The New York Times disclosing that Frank had hired Maitz, one of the Hollywood Ten, to write a screenplay of The Execution of Private Slovik, a book by William Bradford Huie about the only American soldier executed by the U.S. Army for desertion since the Civil War. Frank planned to direct and produce the story himself.
            Frank’s friendship with Albert Maitz had started in 1945 when Maitz wrote the Academy Award-winning short against racism, The House I Live In. But then Maitz had been imprisoned, fined, and blacklisted for refusing to answer the questions of the House Un-American Activities Committee, and he had moved to Mexico in 1951. It was there that Frank called him with the screenplay offer that would break the blacklist.
            Sinatra’s decision to hire Maitz unleashed the most rabid partisans from both sides of the “Red or dead” issue. Only months earlier, Otto Preminger had announced that Dalton Trumbo, another blacklisted screenwriter, had written the script for Exodus, which would soon be released. Preminger’s bold act was the first chink in the seemingly impregnable blacklist. The director’s stand encouraged Kirk Douglas to use Trumbo for the script of Spartacus, the story of a Roman gladiator based on a book by Howard Fast, then an avowed Communist.
            By announcing the signing of Maitz before the movie was shot, Sinatra joined a select group of men determined to bring an end to the invidious blacklist.
            “I had not worked on a film in Hollywood since 1948,” said Maitz, “and I, like others who were blacklisted, kept hoping that the blacklist would be broken, so to receive Frank’s call in 1960 was enormously exciting to me. I went up to see him, and we discussed the story, which we both agreed would say that the enemy in the war was not the United States Army, but the war itself. I point this out because of the irony of being blacklisted as a subversive who was trying to overthrow the government of the United States, and here I was setting out to say that the enemy in the war was not the United States, but war itself. Frank said that he had been thinking of hiring me for a long time and that it was very important to him to do so and to make this film. He said that if anyone tried to interfere with his hiring me, they were going to run into a buzz saw. He anticipated all the problems and the outcry from the American Legion types, but he said he didn’t care. He wanted to break the blacklist. So he decided to make the announcement in advance of my doing the screenplay.… Frank said he would announce my being hired, but we set no date, so I left for New York. While there, I got-a call from Frank’s lawyer, Martin Gang, who asked if I would mind if the announcement was put off until after the New Hampshire primary, in which Kennedy was running.”
            Concerned that delaying the announcement might dilute its effectiveness in breaking the blacklist, Maitz called Frank at the Fontainebleau in Miami, where he was appearing. “I asked him openly if he wanted to delay because he was raising money for Kennedy and was worried that being publicly involved with a blacklisted writer might dry up finances, but he said, ‘No, I support Kennedy because I think he’s the best man for the job, but I’m not doing anything special for him.’ So I suggested we make the announcement right away, and he said fine.”
            Hours after the announcement, the Hearst press bludgeoned Frank in editorials across the country, demanding that he fire Maitz immediately. “What kind of thinking motivates Frank Sinatra in hiring an unrepentant enemy of his country—not a liberal, not an underdog, not a free thinker, but a hard revolutionist who has never done anything to remove himself from the Communist camp or to disassociate himself from the Communist record?” asked the New York Mirror.
            In contrast, the New York Post proffered “An Oscar!” to Frank, writing, “He has joined the select company of Hollywood valiants who declared their independence from the Un-American Activities Committee and the American Legion. … In defying the secret blacklist that has terrorized the movie industry for more than a decade, Sinatra—like Stanley Kramer and Otto Preminger before him—has rendered a service to the cause of artistic freedom. …”
            In Washington, a Senate investigating subcommittee announced that it would be sending men to Hollywood “within a week” to look into attempts by Communists to infiltrate the motion picture industry. Actor John Wayne said, “I wonder how Sinatra’s crony, Senator John Kennedy, feels about him hiring such a man? I’d like to know his attitude because he’s the one who is making plans to run the administrative government of our country.”
            Outraged by Wayne’s attack, Frank bought full-page ads in the Hollywood trade papers: “This type of partisan politics is hitting below the belt. I make movies. I do not ask the advice of Senator Kennedy on whom I should hire. Senator Kennedy does not ask me how he should vote in the Senate. … I spoke to many screenwriters, but it was not until I talked to Albert Maitz that I found a writer who saw the screenplay in exactly the terms I wanted.… Under our Bill of Rights I was taught that no one may prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, religion, or other matters of opinion.”
            Frank stated that as director and producer of the film: “I and I alone will be responsible for it. I am concerned that the screenplay reflects the true pro-American values of the story. I am prepared to stand on my principles and to await the verdict of the American people when they see The Execution of Private Slovik. I repeat: In my role as a picture-maker, I have—in my opinion—hired the best man to do the job.”
            That statement aroused widespread enmity and attacks by veterans’ groups throughout the country. The Los Angeles Examiner stated: “You are not giving employment to a poor little sheep who lost his way.… You are making available a story wide open for the Communist line.”
            Despite the outcry, Frank stood firm, insisting upon his inalienable right to hire whomever he wanted.
            Then prospective television sponsors threatened to withdraw if he did not disassociate himself from Maitz at once.
            “General Motors called me up—we had three Pontiac specials set—and they said that if he doesn’t rescind that association with Maitz, we’re pulling out,” said Nick Sevano. “If he doesn’t fire him in the next twenty-four hours, we’re canceling all our business dealings. I had recently gone back into business with Frank, and I had $250,000 at stake in those GM specials, so Hank [Sanicola], Mickey Rudin, and I flew to Palm Springs to try to talk Frank into firing Maitz, but he wouldn’t budge. Tuck ‘em,’ he said. ‘There will be other specials.’ When I pleaded with him to change his mind, he got so mad he fired me, and we had to break up our management company.”
            When priests stood up in their pulpits to sermonize against Frank, Ambassador Kennedy became alarmed and called Cardinal Spellman in New York and Cardinal Cushing in Boston, only to be told that Sinatra’s consorting with Communists could damage his son’s campaign among Roman Catholics. A few days later, Governor Wesley Powell of New Hampshire accused Senator Kennedy of “softness toward communism.”
            “That’s when old Joe called Frank and said, ‘It’s either Maitz or us. Make up your mind,’ ” said Peter Lawford. “He felt that Jack was getting rapped for being a Catholic and that was going to be tough enough to put to rest. He didn’t want him to get rapped for being pro-Communist as well, so Frank caved in, and dumped Maitz that day.”
            Bowing to Ambassador Kennedy, Frank issued a public statement: “In view of the reaction of my family, my friends, and the American public, I have instructed my attorneys to make a settlement with Albert Maitz and to inform him that he will not write the screenplay for The Execution of Private Slovik.
            “I had thought the major consideration was whether or not the resulting script would be in the best interests of the United States. Since my conversations with Mr. Maitz had indicated that he has an affirmative, pro-American approach to the story, and since I felt fully capable as producer of enforcing such standards, I have defended my hiring of Mr. Maitz.
            “But the American public has indicated it feels the morality of hiring Albert Maitz is the more crucial matter, and I will accept this majority opinion.”
            Frank had finally succumbed, after being subjected to public and private pressures few people ever experience in a lifetime. Family, friends, business associates, religious leaders, politicians, a galaxy of editorial writers and columnists had all advised—some demanded—that he throw Maitz to the wolves, or face the pack himself. Even after his statement, the controversy raged on like a fire in an oil well, stopping only when it ran dry.
            An eight-column streamer in. Hearst’s Los Angeles flagship paper ran in red above its own masthead: SINATRA OUSTS MALTZ AS WRITER. In an editorial headed “Sinatra Sees the Light,” the Examiner commended Frank for his “maturity” in Firing the blacklisted writer. In New York City, the Post condemned him for capitulating “to the know-nothings of cinema and journalism.” Publishers Weekly agreed: “Chalk up another victory for lynch-law mentality.”
            Frank paid Maitz’s agent $75,000, the full price he had agreed to pay for the screenplay, but he was too embarrassed to call the writer to explain what had happened or to apologize for going back on his word. He also abandoned the idea of directing and producing the Private Slovik story.
            A few nights later, Frank saw John Wayne at a celebrity-packed benefit dinner in the Moulin Rouge nightclub. Frank, who had been drinking, approached the six-foot-four-inch actor on the way to the parking lot.
            “You seem to disagree with me,” he said.
            “Now, now, Frank, we can discuss this somewhere else,” said Wayne.
            Frank snarled at the actor, but friends stepped in to hold him back. Wayne walked away and Sinatra stalked to his car after turning on the one newsman present: “I guess you’ll write all this down.”
            Angered, Sinatra stepped in front of a moving car, forcing the parking lot attendant behind the wheel to jam on the brakes, bringing the car to a screeching halt.
            “Hey, Charley! You almost hit me! You know what I’m insured for?” Frank yelled. Confused and shaken, the parking lot attendant shook his head. Frank raced around to the driver’s side of the car, shoved the attendant, and tore the shirt off another. “Can you fight?” he yelled. “You’d better be able to.”
            “Aw, Frank, he wasn’t trying to hit you with the car,” said another parking attendant, Edward Moran. “He’s only trying to make a living.”
            “Who the fuck are you?” Frank roared, pushing Moran, who started to strike back trying to defend himself. Before the twenty-one-year-old could land a blow on Frank, the large fists of Big John Hopkins were punching Moran’s head and face. Hopkins, who had been standing a few feet away, was six feet tall, weighed 220 pounds, and worked for Sammy Davis, Jr. Moran claimed to the police that as Hopkins beat him up, Frank yelled, “Tell that guy not to sue me if he knows what’s good for him! I’ll break both his legs.”
            Hopkins and Frank jumped into Sammy’s Rolls-Royce and drove off, while the parking lot attendant was taken to Hollywood Receiving Hospital and treated for facial cuts and bruises. He later filed suit against Frank for violent assault, asking $100,000 in damages.
            At that point, Big John Hopkins stepped forward to say that Frank wasn’t to blame. “There’s a little mixup and I’m standing right in the middle,” he said. “I separate them. Someone gets hurt in the separation and it isn’t me. And it isn’t Frank.” Before the case went to trial, Frank agreed to settle—no sum was disclosed.
            Following the Maitz episode, Frank avoided publicity until the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles in July. By that time, the Dodgers were on a winning streak and the city was strewn with baseball pennants and political bunting. The Democrats arrived early to stage a $100-a-plate fund-raising dinner at the Beverly Hilton to be attended by 2,800 people, including all the Hollywood stars Frank could turn out—Judy Garland, Janet Leigh, Tony Curtis, Sammy Davis, Jr., Shirley MacLaine, Peter Lawford, Angie Dickinson, Milton Berle, George Jessel, Joe E. Lewis, and Mort Sahl.
            Jack Kennedy sat at the head table next to Garland. Frank sat at the end with the rest of the Democratic candidates—Adlai Stevenson, Stuart Symington, and Lyndon Johnson. After winning seven primaries and campaigning in fifty states, Jack Kennedy had arrived in Los Angeles with over 700 of the 1,520 delegates pledged to him. He was confident that by Wednesday, July 13, he would have the 761 votes necessary for a first ballot nomination.
            Frank and the rest of the Rat Pack opened the convention ceremonies in the sports arena on Monday, July 11, singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which was marred only by the delegates from Mississippi, who booed Sammy Davis, Jr. The jibes were so loud and ugly that Sammy lost his composure. As Davis tried to blink back his tears, Frank whispered to him: “Those dirty sons of bitches! Don’t let ’em get you, Charley. Hang on. Don’t let it get you!” But unable to hide his humiliation, Sammy left after the national anthem while Frank, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Janet Leigh, and Tony Curtis took their places on the floor in front row seats reserved for the press. They prowled the aisles restlessly, wanting to be part of the Kennedy power-brokering that was being handled by Kenny O’Donnell and Larry O’Brien. Although reporters, delegates, and even the Speaker of the House of Representatives were barred from the floor unless they could produce a highly coveted pass, Frank and the Rat Pack wandered at will from one delegation to the next, impervious to barriers and restrictions. Conscious of television, Frank had painted the back of his head black so that the cameras would not pick up his shiny bald pate.
            Ambassador and Mrs. Kennedy stayed at Marion Davies’s mansion in Beverly Hills, and while Rose attended the convention every day, her husband entertained labor leaders and big city bosses at home. On Wednesday, July 13, the day of the nominations, Frank was sitting with Jack Kennedy and his father when David McDonald, president of the steelworkers union, arrived.
            “Bobby was there … and quite a number of the members of the Kennedy family were there,” recalled McDonald. “I walked in and said hello to everybody. Jack said, ‘Would you like a drink, Dave?’ I said, ‘Yes, I’d love a beer.’ He said, ‘Right out there.’ So I went out there and Frankie Sinatra, of all people, was the bartender. So Frank said, ‘What would you like, Dave?’ I said, ‘Got an ice cold beer here?’ He said, ‘Sure.’ I said, ‘Frank, would you do me a favor? How about calling [my wife] Rosemary. She couldn’t be here because she has this terrible headache from the demonstration.’ So he called Rosemary. Her headache stopped immediately because she was such a great admirer of Sinatra, of his singing ability, anyway.”
            Jack Kennedy stayed at the house with his father to watch the nominating speeches while Frank returned to the convention hall, where the Stevenson demonstrators were threatening to tear down the hall in their fervor. As Senator Eugene J. McCarthy (D-Minn.) stepped to the podium to make his eloquent nominating speech for Stevenson (“Do not reject this man who has made us all proud to be Democrats. Do not leave this prophet without honor in his own party.”), the convention turned into a screaming, screeching mass of waving straw hats and blowing horns beseeching the heavens to thunder in praise of their man. Frank sat backstage, glumly watching the wild Stevenson demonstration. After five minutes of pandemonium, he signaled the orchestra leader, Johnny Green, giving him the “cut” sign with his hand to his throat, and effectively put a stop to the outpouring of adulation.
            Minutes later, Minnesota Governor Orville Freeman made the nominating speech for Kennedy, which didn’t match McCarthy’s rousing speech for Stevenson, but that made no difference, because by 10:07 P.M., when the roll of states was called and Wyoming gave its fifteen votes to Kennedy, the Democratic nomination was his. The convention hall erupted with excited Kennedy delegates screaming “All the way with JFK.” The Rat Pack jumped up and down, pounding one another on the back. “We’re on our way to the White House, buddy boy,” Frank said to Peter Lawford. “We’re on our way to the White House.”
            Frank had arranged for political satirist Mort Sahl to address the convention before Kennedy’s acceptance speech the next night. Months before, Sinatra had solicited material from the thirty-three-year-old comedian for a Kennedy joke bank to compete with one Bob Hope was doing for the Republicans. Sahl had amused the Kennedys with his caustic political humor, referring to White House Press Secretary Jim Hagerty as “Ike’s right foot,” and deriding Eisenhower as the president who rode to the White House like a hero on a white horse. “Four years later we’ve still got the horse, but there’s nobody riding him,” he had said.
            Given these Republican jibes, Frank had figured that Sahl would provide good entertainment for 100,000 cheering Kennedy partisans. He certainly didn’t expect the comedian to make fun of the candidate, and he cringed when Sahl opened by announcing that Nixon had sent a wire to Joseph P. Kennedy, saying, “You haven’t lost a son. You’ve gained a country. Congratulations.” It was no better when Sahl ended by saying, “We’ve finally got a choice, the choice between the lesser of two evils. Nixon wants to sell the country, and Kennedy wants to buy it.”
            After that evening, Frank’s relationship with Sahl was never the same.
            The convention over, Frank campaigned hard for the Kennedy-Johnson ticket. He appeared before two thousand women at Janet Leigh’s Key Women for Kennedy tea and sang three songs. He sent a $2,500 check to the campaign headquarters. He brought Hollywood friends to the Democratic Governors’ Ball in Newark, New Jersey, and sang before forty thousand people. He staged luau benefits in Hawaii during the filming of The Devil at 4 O’Clock, and campaigned with Peter Lawford throughout the islands.
            “Frank and I won Honolulu for Jack by one hundred twenty-eight votes,” said Lawford. “We hit all the islands, just the two of us. I’d smile and Frank would sing, picking up local bands along the way.”
            Frank also arranged a behind-the-scenes meeting for Ambassador Kennedy with his good friend, Harold J. Gibbons, national vice-president of the Teamsters Union, so that the ambassador could try to heal the wounds caused by Bobby’s investigation of labor racketeering and get labor’s endorsement for his son’s presidential ticket. The teamsters never endorsed Kennedy, but Frank’s friend Sam Giancana steered teamster dollars out of their $200 million pension fund into the Kennedy campaign. Giancana did it partly to get Kennedy elected—and thereby end his own surveillance—but he also must have wanted to please Frank, with whom he now had a common business interest. A few months before, Giancana had quietly made preparations to become a secret owner of the Gal-Neva Lodge in Lake Tahoe. The owners of record were to be Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Hank Sanicola.
            Curiously, former Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy was staying at Cal-Neva at the time as Sinatra’s guest, and, according to Justice Department files, “had been visited by many gangsters with gambling interests.” The Justice Department refused in 1985 to release any further information to explain the “deal” made between Joseph Kennedy and the “gangsters with gambling interests.”
            Seeing an opportunity to embarrass the Republican nominee, Frank gave Bobby Kennedy, JFK’s campaign manager, a copy of a private investigator’s report disclosing that Richard Nixon had made periodic visits to a New York psychiatrist, Dr. Arnold Hutschnecker, news that would have been highly damaging if published in 1960. Bobby Kennedy’s aide recalled that Sinatra, who personally employed the private investigator, was surprised when Bobby refused to use the information and locked it in his office safe instead. “Frank then sent a reporter around to try to surface it, but Bobby was out of town at the time,” said the aide. “He never said anything to Frank, but he sat on the report and refused to make it public.”
            On September 12, 1960, Frank set aside politics for the wedding of his beloved daughter, Nancy, to Tommy Sands at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas in front of thirty-five friends and family. Little Nancy had intended to marry Sands in the winter of 1960 after Tommy’s Air Force tour of duty was completed, but she pushed the marriage ahead because “my father goes to Honolulu to make a picture. … I couldn’t get married without my father.”
            Her mother watched with mixed emotions as Nancy, Jr., rushed into marriage with the young singer who, as a teenage idol, had. sold a million copies of “Teen-age Crush” for Capitol Records. “It’s my own life happening twenty years later,” said Big Nancy.
            The twenty-three-year-old groom wore his airman third class Air Force uniform and the bride wore a white street-length dress designed by her father’s designer, Don Loper. Frank refused to pose for photographers. “This is Nancy’s day, and I don’t want to horn in,” he said.
            Frank cried when he saw his twenty-year-old daughter ready to walk down the aisle. “He looked at me in my white gown and veil,” she said. “He saw the bouquet and the little diamond star earrings he’d given me for a wedding gift. He just stood there with tears streaming down his face.
            “ ‘I love you, chicken,’ he said.
            “I said, ‘I love you, too, Daddy.’ And off we went down the aisle, both in tears.”
            Later Nancy said, “You know what most mothers give their daughters for a wedding present? Silver or china or money for a romantic trip. My mother gave me a sewing machine.”
            The marriage was to be tough for Tommy because Nancy was constantly calling her father for advice, and begging him to put Tommy in his movies. Tommy insisted that they move to New York to be away from the Sinatra influence. “Frank let me know that he felt it was a foolish idea, that I’d be hurting myself professionally by pulling up stakes and moving away from Hollywood,” said Sands. “I didn’t care though. I had to do what I thought was best … Nancy was unhappy about leaving her family, all her childhood ties, and it was only natural for her father to give me his advice because she was involved.”
            “I remember when we went to the Sinatras one Christmas when Nancy was married to Tommy,” said Mickey Rudin’s former wife, Elizabeth Greenschpoon. “Nancy opened her present from her father, which was a ten-thousand-dollar leopard coat. That was something Tommy could never have afforded to give her, and when she opened the present she started screaming. Everyone oohed and aahed over Frank, and poor Tommy left the room.”
            Five years later, Tommy Sands would walk out on Nancy, saying he no longer wanted to be married to her. Once again, she would see her father cry as she collapsed in her mother’s Bel-Air home, where she stayed in bed for weeks.
            On Election Day, November 8, 1960, Frank stayed in his office at Essex Productions in Los Angeles. His secretary, Gloria Lovell, kept an open telephone line to Jake Arvey in Chicago, where Giancana controlled the first ward and several river wards. Arvey, Democratic National Committeeman from Illinois and a close friend of Giancana’s, reported the state’s returns to Frank every half hour. By midnight, NBC’s John Chancellor was predicting a Republican sweep, with Richard Nixon the winner. At three o’clock in the morning, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley called Dave Powers in Hyannisport. “We’re trying to hold back our returns,” he said. “Every time we announce two hundred more votes for Kennedy in Chicago, they come up out of nowhere downstate with another three hundred votes for Nixon.”
            At 3:10 A.M., Nixon made a television appearance in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles with his wife, Pat, who was on the verge of tears, but he refused to concede the election. This so angered Frank that he picked up the phone and called the hotel, demanding to be put through to Nixon’s suite. The operator refused to connect him. “Do you know who this is?” he screamed. “This is Frank Sinatra, and I want to talk to Richard Nixon.” He was determined to tell the Republican candidate to give up and get it over with, but he couldn’t reach him.
            A few hours later, Jake Arvey called Frank to say that the black wards in Chicago were coming in strong for Kennedy, but in the end he carried the state by only 8,858 votes. The national election was so close that Kennedy won by only 118,550 votes out of 68,832,818 cast.
            Although Chicago’s Mayor Daley later took the credit for Kennedy’s election, gangsters around the country pointed with pride to the syndicate control of the West Side Bloc, which produced that victory.
            “The presidency was really stolen in Chicago,” said Mickey Cohen, the Los Angeles mobster.
            Sam Giancana later bragged about his contribution to John F. Kennedy’s victory. As he frequently told Judith Campbell: “Listen, honey, if it wasn’t for me, your boyfriend wouldn’t even be in the White House.”
            Skinny D’Amato credited Sinatra’s mobilization of mob support for the victory. “Frank won Kennedy the election,” he said many years later. “All the guys knew it.”

            A month after the election, a contractor and construction crew began breaking ground around Sinatra’s Palm Springs compound to add a heliport and a large new guest house with a dining room capable of seating forty for the future president and his Secret Service agents. Frank spared no expense on this project and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime to get the job done in a hurry. Frank worked with the carpenters day and night and even flew in lumber by helicopter, for he was convinced that his house on Wonder Palms Road would become the Western White House, a vacation retreat for the president of the United States.


            The Caroline, the Kennedys’ private plane, landed in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 1961. Frank jumped out with Peter Lawford and a little dog wearing a black sweater. A maroon Lincoln Continental limousine whisked them off to the National Guard Armory, where they would be spending the next thirteen days planning an inaugural gala to honor the president-elect the night before his swearing-in. This invitation-only show for ten thousand people paying one hundred dollars apiece for seats and ten thousand dollars for boxes would raise over one million dollars to cover the Democrats’ campaign deficit.
            “It will be the biggest one-night gross in the history of show business,” said Frank.
            He had thought of little else since the election, when he began making calls all over the world to assemble an impressive array of stars to pay a show business tribute to the president who so loved Hollywood. He persuaded Ella Fitzgerald to fly in from Australia to sing for five minutes, Shirley MacLaine was coming from Japan, Gene Kelly from Switzerland, Sidney Poitier from France, and Keely Smith and Louis Prima from Las Vegas. Frank negotiated with Leland Hay-ward to release Ethel Merman from Gypsy for one night and managed to close another Broadway show, Becket, for the evening to free Anthony Quinn and Sir Laurence Olivier. Sinatra wanted Fredric March to do a dramatic reading of Abraham Lincoln’s farewell speech, the one he delivered from the back of the train that took him from Springfield to Washington. Frank called Eleanor Roosevelt, who, despite her support for Adlai Stevenson, was thrilled to participate. He engaged Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen to write special songs, and Goodman Ace, Norman Corwin, Jack Rose, Leonard Gersche, and Mel Shavelson to write dialogue. Joey Bishop was to be master of ceremonies, and Leonard Bernstein promised to conduct “Stars and Stripes Forever.” The rest of the cast consisted of Harry Belafonte, Milton Berle, Nat King Cole, Helen Träubel, Juliet Prowse, Mahalia Jackson, Alan King, Jimmy Durante, Pat Suzuki, Kay Thompson, Bette Davis, Janet Leigh, and Tony Curtis, plus Nelson Riddle and his orchestra. Only Dean Martin, locked into a movie, and Sammy Davis, Jr., who had recently married Swedish actress Mai Britt, would be conspicuously absent.
            Sammy Davis did not want his interracial marriage to mar the gala in any way. He had postponed his wedding until after the election, because Frank was to be best man and Sammy didn’t want that fact to hurt Kennedy’s chances for election. “Right or wrong, fair or not, my wedding was giving the Nixon people the opportunity to ridicule Kennedy and possibly hurt him at the polls,” he said. “And every survey showed that [Kennedy] couldn’t afford to lose a single vote. I could imagine the pressure Frank must be under. He must have eighty guys telling him, ‘Don’t be a fool. You’ve worked hard for Kennedy, now do you want to louse him up?’ ”
            “This is the most exciting assignment of my life,” said Frank, who had planned every gala detail accordingly. Before leaving California, he spent ninety thousand dollars at Rusar’s jewelry store in Beverly Hills creating silver cigarette boxes with the inaugural invitation inlaid on top to be given to the participating stars. He had spent thousands more ordering a custom-designed wardrobe, including an Inverness cape with a red satin lining, black patent leather pumps, a silk top hat, swallowtail coat, striped trousers, a double-breasted gray suede weskit, black calfskin oxfords, and white kid gloves. And, in case he spilled anything, he ordered everything in duplicate.
            The day of the gala, snow started falling softly on Washington and continued until the city was blanketed under huge white drifts that covered cars and buried shrubs and fences. By evening all traffic was stalled on snow-choked streets, and the National Guard had to be called in to plow the city’s main arteries. By nine P.M. the armory was only half full, and Frank and Peter Lawford were pacing back and forth, waiting for those performers still stuck in the storm. By ten P.M. the president-elect and Mrs. Kennedy had yet to arrive, and the show was an hour and a half late. Finally, their police car pulled up to the entrance, and Frank went into the swirling snow to escort Jacqueline Kennedy up the stairs, trying to stay clear of her white organza skirt.
            At eleven P.M., with many seats empty, the lights went down and Frank walked onstage.
            “We know it’s a great party,” he said, “because who else could run up a debt of two million dollars in three months without a credit card?”
            For the next three hours, a priceless collection of show business talent led by the son of Italian immigrants saluted the first Irish-American ever elected to the presidency.
            Seconds after the finale, John F. Kennedy went up onstage to thank the stars. “I’m proud to be a Democrat, because since the time of Thomas Jefferson, the Democratic Party has been identified with the pursuit of excellence, and we saw excellence tonight,” he said. “The happy relationship between the arts and politics which has characterized our long history I think reached culmination tonight.
            “I know we’re all indebted to a great friend—Frank Sinatra. Long before he could sing, he used to poll a Democratic precinct back in New Jersey. That precinct has grown to cover a country. But long after he has ceased to sing, he is going to be standing up and speaking for the Democratic Party, and I thank him on behalf of all of you tonight. You cannot imagine the work he has done to make this show a success. Tonight there are two shows on Broadway that are closed down because the members of the cast are here. And I want him and my sister Pat’s husband, Peter Lawford, to know that we’re all indebted to them, and we’re proud to have them with us.”
            After the gala all the stars were bused downtown to Paul Young’s restaurant, where Ambassador Kennedy held a glittering dinner for everyone. When Frank complimented him on the splendor of the evening, the seventy-two-year-old host said, “Wait until you see the party we throw four years from now!”
            Hours later, Frank was wearing his Inverness cape with the red satin lining and waiting to be driven to the Capitol in time for the noon swearing-in. And that evening, January 20, 1961, while the President and First Lady made their rounds of the five inaugural balls, Frank gave a party at the Statler Hilton for the stars who had participated in the previous evening’s gala.
            By the time the President made it to the second ball at the Statler, he was so curious about Frank’s party that he excused himself, leaving his wife and Vice-President and Mrs. Johnson sitting in the presidential box while he bounded upstairs to see the stars. He apologized for interrupting. “I’m sorry,” he said, walking over to Frank’s table, “I didn’t know you were eating.”
            “That’s class,” said Frank later. “That’s real class.”
            Everything about Jack Kennedy impressed Frank, who was still reeling from the thanks he had received from him the night before. He paid to have the President’s remarks reprinted in Variety and played the recording of that evening over and over for his friends, saying, “I only wish my kids could have seen it. I can’t find the words. I’ll never be able to find the words.”
            “After the inauguration we all had to sit around Frank’s hotel suite at the Sands in Las Vegas and listen to that record of Kennedy thanking him,” said the woman who was living with Jimmy Van Heusen. “Frank would stand by the mantel and play it over and over, and we had to sit there for hours on end listening to every word.”
            Frank framed the President’s note of thanks and put a gold plaque on the door of the bedroom where Kennedy had slept when he visited Sinatra in 1959, although he confused the date, saying “John F. Kennedy slept here November 6 and 7, 1960.”
            Visitors were always shown the “Kennedy Room,” where Frank exhibited his presidential mementos, including photographs of himself with Jack Kennedy and the half-dozen notes that JFK had dashed off to him during the campaign, each framed as beautifully as a precious painting. Aware that Nevada was one of the two western states that went for Kennedy in the election, Frank was pleased to point out the note that said: “Frank—How much can I count on the boys from Vegas for? JFK.”
            Upon returning to the West Coast, Frank sent the President every one of his albums, plus tapes of Rat Pack hijinks in Las Vegas. In return, President Kennedy sent him a thank you note on White House stationery; that, too, was framed and hung in the Kennedy Room.
            Returning home was a letdown for Frank, and he seemed out of sorts. He performed at the Sands in Las Vegas and flew to Miami for his opening at the Fontainebleau. There he spent time with Sam Giancana, who was working on a CIA plan to assassinate Fidel Castro. Back in California, Sinatra was still in a foul mood. He stayed at his Palm Springs house and entertained a regular crowd of friends, including Marilyn Monroe, Pat and Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Mai Britt, and Jimmy Van Heusen. Long days were spent at the pool lying in the sun, and in the evening everyone ate one of Frank’s Italian dinners served by George Jacobs.
            “Frank was awful during this time,” said one of the guests. “He yelled at Marilyn, saying ‘Shut up, Norma Jean. You’re so stupid you don’t know what you’re talking about.’ She was drinking out of a flask by that point and rather pathetic. He barked at George constantly: ‘George, get this; George, fill the drinks; George, clean my ashtrays; George, clear the table.’ He never said ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ and was always yelling at that poor guy, but George never said a word. He just took it all with silent dignity.”
            Frank’s agitation was due, in part, to Desi Arnaz, who rented space to Frank’s production company at Desilu Studios. As president of Desilu, Arnaz was responsible for developing The Untouchables, a popular weekly television show about Eliot Ness battling the Chicago mob in the days of Al Capone, when Sam Giancana was Capone’s driver. The Chicago names being mentioned on the series were making Giancana and Tony Accardo extremely uncomfortable. They didn’t want to see their notorious predecessors depicted as murderers, so they secretly backed the Federation of Italian-American Democratic Organizations in starting a boycott against the show’s sponsor, Chesterfield cigarettes. In March 1961, Chesterfield bowed to the pressure and withdrew its sponsorship. But that wasn’t enough for Sam Giancana. He wanted Desi Arnaz killed.
            In April, after an evening of drinking in Palm Springs, Frank announced that he was going to take care of Desi.
            “I’m going to kill that Cuban prick,” he said.
            With actress Dorothy Provine beside him, Frank drove to the Indian Wells Country Club, followed by Jimmy Van Heusen and his date, to wait for Desi’s usual arrival at the restaurant there.
            The two women sat in silent terror as Frank said he was going to stop the show and put Desi out of business. Van Heusen tried to cajole Frank into leaving. Every five minutes he said, “Well, looks like Desi isn’t going to show. Let’s shove off,” but Frank refused to move. Minutes later, Desi walked in flanked by two huge Italian bodyguards, each one standing well over six feet and weighing at least three hundred pounds.
            Seeing Frank sitting at one of the tables, Desi yelled across the restaurant at the top of his drunken voice, “Hi ya, dago.” Thinking Frank was there to have a good time, Desi walked over with the two bodyguards. With a tight jaw, Frank introduced him to his group, which was holding its breath in anticipation of mayhem. Frank turned to Desi and told him what he and some of his influential Italian friends thought about the show making the Italians gangsters. “What do you want me to do—make them all Jews?” said Desi. He said that he wasn’t afraid of Frank’s friends, and the argument went on from there. Frank admitted he’d never seen The Untouchables but said he knew what he was talking about because “I always know what I’m talking about. That’s how I got where I am.”
            Desi laughed. “Oh, yeah,” he said in his thick Cuban accent. “Well, I remember when you couldn’t get a yob. Couldn’t get a yob. So why don’t you forget all this bullshit and just have your drinks and enjoy yourself. Stop getting your nose in where it doesn’t belong, you and your so-called friends.”
            Unruffled, Desi meandered back to the bar with the two bodyguards, leaving Frank full of unspent bluster. Obviously embarrassed, he looked around the table and said, “I just couldn’t hit him. We’ve been pals for too long.”
            “Yeah, what’s the point,” said Van Heusen soothingly.
            As they were leaving, Frank spotted two women sitting at a nearby table and invited them to join the group at Van Heusen’s house for a party.
            At four A.M., the group headed for Van Heusen’s house in Palm Desert, relieved that the crisis over Desi Arnaz had been averted. They didn’t know that Frank was so upset that he would soon move his production company out of the Desilu Studios. But they saw how humiliated Frank felt to have backed down on his threats when he walked into Jimmy’s den, where a large Norman Rockwell portrait hung on the wall. One of the composer’s most treasured possessions, it portrayed Van Heusen sitting at the piano in his pajama top, and it was a special gift from the artist. Grabbing a carving knife from the kitchen, Frank lunged at the painting and slashed the canvas to shreds.
            “If you try to fix that or put it back, I will come and blow the fucking wall off,” he said.
            Van Heusen did not say a word; the women exchanged frightened glances. Finally, one of the two women picked up at the country club said solicitously, “I love your records, Frank.”
            Looking at her contemptuously, Sinatra said, “Why don’t you go slash your wrists.”
            After Frank had left the house, Van Heusen’s date asked, “How could you stand there and let him do that?”
            “Tomorrow he’ll be so sorry that he’ll send me some print worth five thousand dollars or something.”
            “What difference does that make?” she asked. “That can’t replace a Norman Rockwell.”
            She was unable to comprehend why this very strong man acquiesced to Sinatra, whom he addressed as “your eminence” to his face and referred to behind his back as “the monster.”
            “Why do you put up with his craziness?” she asked. “Pick up hookers for him? Go over there all the time and stay up with him until all hours of the morning and sit back and watch him treat people like dirt?”
            “Because he sings my songs, that’s why. I’m a whore for my music.”
            Jimmy Van Heusen had learned long before to tolerate the strange twists in Frank’s psyche that drove him to savage behavior. Other close friends made the same allowances.
            “Yes, there is a cruel streak in Frank, no question about it,” said Anthony Quinn, “but I still love the guy. He’s what all men are and not one man in a million ever is. Thomas Wolfe said that. I guess what I love is the Frank that sings. That’s when he’s really himself. I love what he says in his songs. I don’t love everything that Frank does or the way he treats people at times, but anyone who sings like he does cannot be a really bad man.”
            Frank frequently tried to make amends for his bizarre behavior with an act of generosity. A few days after he ruined the Norman Rockwell painting, he sent his friend an expensive Japanese print as Van Heusen had predicted, and it was accepted without any recrimination.
            Still, the violence within Frank kept people at bay, leaving some of the women in his life to receive the roughest treatment, possibly because they came to know him so intimately. During the time Natalie Wood dated Frank, he insulted her so terribly at a party in his home that she went screaming from the table in tears. Even so, he threw her a surprise party on her twenty-first birthday, and on her twenty-second he sent her twenty-two bouquets, and had them delivered one by one hourly. He also ordered twenty-two musicians to serenade her.
            “He was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and sometimes you didn’t know which one you were going to get,” said Judith Campbell. “Frank’s Dr. Jekyll was a charmer, but his Mr. Hyde was frightening, truly frightening.”
            “It was really something to see,” said the woman who lived with Jimmy Van Heusen. “Frank would bring someone to the desert for the weekend, and, of course, we’d have to be there, so I saw a lot of what I call Frank’s ‘before-and-after’ treatment. Before bed, he would be so charming. The girl was ‘mademoiselle this,’ ‘darling that,’ and ‘my sweet baby.’ He was [a] cavalier, a perfect gentleman. You never saw anything like this man in your life. He’d jump across the room to light a cigarette. He’d fill her glass with champagne every time she took a sip. With a hand on her neck he’d say, ‘You’re beautiful tonight,’ or he’d whisper loudly enough for all of us to hear, ‘No one prettier has ever been in my house. You look radiant, gorgeous.’ Then the next day we’d go over for his interminable pool party, where everyone drank for hours, followed by his spaghetti dinner, which was followed by more drinking. It was the next day that we’d always find the other Frank, the one who wouldn’t speak to the girl, who had been the most beautiful woman in the world the night before. Sometimes he wouldn’t even go near her, nor would he tolerate any affectionate overtures from her. Humped and dumped. The minute the conquest was achieved, kaput. The girl could pack her bags. I saw so many of them leave his house in tears.”
            Paul Chandler, who worked as a houseman for Frank for many years, said one of his jobs was to drive the women home the next morning. “Frank was just like a child. He wanted every new toy there was, and then after he played with it, he’d just toss the toy away. Those girls were no more than toys to him. Some mornings, I’d get to the house and find four or five of them in the bed at the same time, and all colors of girls, too, let me tell you,” he said.
            It was this “swinging” image of Frank that so fascinated President Kennedy, who delighted in hearing reports of what Frank was doing, and especially with whom. During her visits to the White House, Judith Campbell was quizzed by JFK endlessly. “Almost immediately, Jack started pumping me for gossip, most of it directed at Frank,” she said. “ ‘What was Frank doing? Was it true that he was seeing Janet Leigh?’ We always went through the same old routine.”
            “It’s true that Jack loved hearing about Frank’s Hollywood broads,” said Peter Lawford. He added that the President enjoyed movie and show business gossip so much that he subscribed to Variety to keep up with what was going on.
            “During one of our private dinners, he brought up Sinatra and said, ‘I really should do something for Frank.’ Jack was always so grateful to him for all the work he’d done in the campaign raising money. He said, ‘Maybe I’ll ask him to the White House for dinner or lunch.’ I said that Frank would love that, but then Jack said, ‘There’s only one problem. Jackie hates him and won’t have him in the house. So I really don’t know what to do.’ Here was the President of the United States in a quandary just like the rest of us who are afraid to upset our spouses. We joked for a few minutes about stuffing Frank into a body bag and dragging him around to the side door so the gardeners could bring him in like a bag of refuse and Jackie wouldn’t see him. We also talked about sneaking him in in one of John-John’s big diaper bundles. The President brightened up a few minutes later and said, ‘I’ll wait until Jackie goes to Middleburg, and I’ll have Eunice be the hostess.’ So that’s what he did. When Jackie left, Evelyn Lincoln called Frank and invited him to the White House. He flew to Washington for the day and a car drove him up to the southwest gate. Even without Jackie there, the President still wouldn’t let him come in the front door. I don’t think he wanted reporters to see Frank Sinatra going into the White House. That’s why he never flew on Air Force One and was never invited to any of the Kennedy state dinners or taken to Camp David for any of the parties there. He got to Hyannis once, but that was only because Pat and I invited him.”
            Still, Frank stayed in close contact because President Kennedy frequently called him in Los Angeles. Frank’s secretary, Gloria Lovell, would interrupt business meetings to tell him that he had a White House call and Frank would pick up the phone, saying, “Hi ya, Prez.” If he took the call privately, he always told the men what the President said when he returned to the meeting.
            “After each one of those calls, Frank pranced around so proud of the fact that the President was ringing him up,” recalled one associate.
            Since the gala, Frank had seen the President in person only once and that was briefly when he visited the White House with Judy Garland and Danny Kaye. The minute they were ushered into the Oval Office, Kaye started jumping up and down, climbing behind the desk, peeking around the flag and playing the clown. The President quickly signaled his military aide to shut the door and make sure that no photographers were let in, including Cecil Stoughton, who was acting as the official White House photographer. Kennedy did not want “unpresidential” photographs published of entertainers cavorting in the Oval Office. When the meeting was over and the three stars were escorted out, Frank tried to hang back to have a one-on-one talk with Kennedy, but to no avail.
            Frank got the chance in September 1961, when the President invited him to Washington to thank him for all his work on the gala. Before going to the Oval Office, Frank stopped by the press office to see press secretary Pierre Salinger, who had become a good friend. He was noticed by reporters, which fueled speculation about his close friendship with the President.
            At a press conference, Salinger was asked about the relationship:
            Q: Pierre, one other thing, was Frankie Sinatra a guest at Hyannisport last week?
            A: No.
            Q: Or any other weekend?
            A: No.
            Q: In Show Business Illustrated [it was said] that the President on Inauguration Day went to see Sinatra to thank him for his participation in the gala.
            A: No, that’s not true.
            Q: Has Sinatra ever been a guest of the President and his wife anywhere?
            A: No.
            Technically, Salinger was correct. Frank didn’t go to Hyannisport until the day after the news conference, on September 23, 1961.
            The day of his White House visit, Frank was given a grand tour of the family quarters and taken out to the Truman Balcony for drinks.
            “I still remember how he showed the White House maître d’ how to make Bloody Marys with his own fantastic special recipe,” said Dave Powers, a presidential aide. “He sat on the balcony sipping his drink and looking out at the sun streaming in and the wonderful view of Washington we got from there. He turned to me and said, ‘Dave, all the work I did for Jack. Sitting here like this makes it all worthwhile.’ Then I went out and got some of the big mounted color photographs of the President and we had one signed for him. (“For Frank—With the warm regards and best wishes of his friend. John F. Kennedy.”] He also signed one for his daughters and for his son. It was a new photograph of the President, and Jack wanted him to have it. He liked Frank a lot.”
            The next day, September 24, 1961, Frank flew to Hyannisport with Pat Lawford, Ted Kennedy, and Porfirio Rubirosa and his wife, Odile, on the Kennedys’ plane. When fog closed the Hyannis airport, the group flew to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where they decided to take a taxi the rest of the way. Frank strolled off the Caroline holding a glass of champagne and followed by his twelve pieces of luggage, a case of wine, a dozen bottles of carefully wrapped champagne, and two loaves of Italian bread for Ambassador Kennedy. He whistled for two cabs to drive the group and the parcels, including three cartons of ice cream in dry ice, to the Kennedy compound, fifty-three miles away.
            When they arrived at the Kennedy compound, the presidential flag was flying to indicate that John F. Kennedy was in residence. Driving past the White House communications trailer, the group was dropped off at the ambassador’s house, where Peter Lawford was waiting and the dinner table was set for twenty-six. The next day, everyone went cruising with the President on the Honey Fitz and listened to Frank talk about his trip to Italy and his audience with Pope John XXIII. Peter Lawford laughed out loud. “All your friends in Chicago are Italian too,” he said.
            On the subject of Frank’s Mafia connections, Lawford later grew serious and formally approached his brother-in-law by making an appointment to see the attorney general in his office at the Justice Department. There Lawford begged Bobby to listen to Sinatra’s pleas for Giancana. Robert Kennedy intended to make Frank’s mobster friend the Justice Department’s top priority in Chicago and curtly told Lawford to mind his own business.
            That three-and-a-half-hour cruise off Cape Cod later brought President Kennedy stinging criticism from people who objected to his socializing with Frank Sinatra and being seen with the much-divorced Porfirio Rubirosa, former Dominican ambassador and onetime son-in-law of Rafael Trujillo, dictator of the Dominican Republic. Plucky Pierre, as Kennedy called his rotund press secretary, tried to quash the criticism by telling reporters that the Rubirosas were guests of Ted Kennedy and that Frank was a guest of the Lawfords. He emphasized that Frank had not been the guest of President and Mrs. Kennedy anywhere: “Mr. Sinatra went up there to confer with Ambassador Kennedy about a souvenir recording of the inauguration gala. The record will be a money-raiser for the Democratic Party.”
            During that visit, the President mentioned the $100-a-plate fund-raiser he had to attend in November at the Hollywood Palladium and expressed hope that Frank could attend; Frank said he wouldn’t miss it.
            He then told the President about his interest in making The Manchurian Candidate, a psychological thriller based on a novel by Richard Condon about two American soldiers who are captured by the Communists during the Korean War and brainwashed. One of the soldiers (Laurence Harvey) is programmed to assassinate a presidential candidate so that the Communist-backed candidate will become president. The other soldier, to be played by Frank, is deprogrammed by a psychiatrist and then works with the FBI to investigate Harvey. Frank had been approached with the property by George Axelrod and John Frankenheimer and wanted to make the film. It would be distributed by United Artists as part of the fifteen-million-dollar contract Frank had with the company. The problem was that Arthur Krim, president of United Artists, refused to distribute the movie. He was national finance chairman of the Democratic Party at the time and, as such, very protective of the Kennedys. He felt that the film was too politically explosive. Frank disagreed and took the matter directly to President Kennedy, who said that he had no objection whatsoever to seeing the film made. In fact, he enjoyed Condon’s novel and thought it would make a great movie. So Frank asked him to call Krim, and he agreed to do so.
            “That’s the only way that film ever got made,” said Richard Condon. “It took Frank going directly to Jack Kennedy.”
            On matters involving his Mafia friends, Frank was not so successful. Shortly after his September visit to the White House and his stay in Hyannisport, Sam Giancana was talking to his West Coast operative, Johnny Roselli, who had been Frank’s house guest in Palm Springs. On federal wire taps of December 6, 1961, the two gangsters talked about Frank’s promise to intercede with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, whose Justice Department had stepped up its investigation of Giancana.
            ROSELLI: … He [Frank Sinatra] was real nice to me.… He says: “Johnny, I took Sam’s name, and wrote it down, and told Bobby Kennedy, ‘This is my buddy, this is what I want you to know, Bob.’ ” Between you and I, Frank saw Joe Kennedy three different times—Joe Kennedy, the father. He called him three times. … He [Frank] says he’s got an idea that you’re mad at him. I says: “That, I wouldn’t know.”
            GIANCANA: He must have a guilty conscience. I never said nothing.… Well, I don’t know who the fuck he’s [Frank’s] talking to, but if I’m gonna talk to … after all, if I’m taking somebody’s money, I’m gonna make sure that this money is gonna do something, like, do you want it or don’t you want it. If the money is accepted, maybe one of these days the guy will do me a favor.
            ROSELLI: That’s right. He [Frank] says he wrote your name down. …
            GIANCANA: Well, one minute he [Frank] tells me this and then he tells me that and then the last time I talked to him was at the hotel in Florida a month before he left, and he said, “Don’t worry about it. If I can’t talk to the old man [Joseph Kennedy], I’m gonna talk to the man [President Kennedy].” One minute he says he’s talked to Robert, and the next minute he says he hasn’t talked to him. So, he never did talk to him. It’s a lot of shit.… Why lie to me? I haven’t got that coming.
            ROSELO: I can imagine.… Tsk, tsk, tsk … if he can’t deliver, I want him to tell me: “John, the load’s too heavy.”
            GIANCANA: That’s all right. At least then you know how to work. You won’t let your guard down then, know what I mean.… Ask him [Frank] if I’m going to be invited to his New Year’s party.
            ROSELLI: I told him that’s where I usually go for New Year’s with Sam. But he says, “I have to be in Rome the twenty-seventh.”
            GIANCANA: Too fucking bad. Tell him the Kennedys will keep him company.
            ROSELLI: Why don’t you talk to him [Frank]?
            GIANCANA: When he says he’s gonna do a guy a little favor, I don’t give a shit how long it takes. He’s got to give you a little favor.
            Frank had been steadily losing clout with the Boys over his dwindling influence with the Kennedys. FBI records indicate that when in 1961 Carlos Marcello, the capo di tutti capi (boss of all bosses) of Louisiana, who headed one of the oldest and most deeply entrenched Mafia families in the United States, had become one of Bobby Kennedy’s targets for deportation, the New Orleans don contacted Santo Trafficante, head of the Florida Mafia family, who in turn called Frank to use his influence with “the President’s father” on Marcello’s behalf. But Trafficante’s efforts failed and may have only intensified federal efforts against Marcello, who was eventually deported to Guatemala.
            Mafia leaders by this time realized they had vastly overrated Frank’s influence with the Kennedys. They could no longer count on him to run interference for them. Despite the syndicate’s “donation” to the Kennedy campaign, on telephones tapped by federal agents, Johnny Roselli discussed the problem with Sam Giancana, remarking that Frank was powerless to help them at all. Roselli suggested that Sam not rely on Sinatra anymore and try something else to get rid of the FBI agents who were shadowing him constantly.
            ROSELLI: He’s got big ideas, Frank does, about being ambassador, or something. You know Pierre Salinger and them guys. They don’t want him. They treat him like they treat a whore. You fuck them, you pay them, and they’re through. You got the right idea, Moe [one of Giancana’s nicknames], go the other way. Fuck everybody. We’ll use them every fucking way we can. They [the Kennedys] only know one way. Now let them see the other side of you.
            Giancana’s increasing disllusionment with Frank was obvious on December 4, 1961, when he spoke to Ghuckie English, one of his lieutenants, about money that Sinatra’s record company, Reprise, owed someone.
            ENGLISH: They owe that guy $14,000 and wouldn’t pay.
            GIANCANA: Why?
            ENGLISH: I don’t know. What do we do?
            GIANCANA: Tell him to sue the [obscenity deleted]. Do it fast, too.
            FBI wiretaps picked up another of Giancana’s conversations blaspheming Frank as a liar. “If he [Kennedy] had lost this state here he would have lost the election but I figured with this guy [Sinatra] maybe we will be all right. I might have known this guy [obscenity deleted]…. Well, when a [obscenity deleted] lies to you.”
            Later, when Sam and Johnny Formosa, another gangster, discussed their feelings of betrayal over Frank’s failure to “deliver” his friend, President Kennedy, and get rid of the federal agents who had marked Giancana as a target for early prosecution, they mentioned the Rat Pack.
            FORMOSA: Let’s show ’em. Let’s show those asshole Hollywood fruitcakes that they can’t get away with it as if nothing’s happened. Let’s hit Sinatra. Or I could whack out a couple of those other guys. [Peter] Lawford and that [Dean] Martin, and I could take the nigger [Sammy Davis, Jr.] and put his other eye out.
            GIANCANA: No … I’ve got other plans for them.