You can't live on Jack Daniels alone, Pally. -Frank Sinatra, 1962
When Sinatra dies, they're giving his zipper to the Smithsonian. -Dean Martin
Countless things have been said about Frank Sinatra, and why not? Frank was the legend of legends, the biggest star in show business, "Old Blue Eyes" himself, the original "swinger," the world's greatest singer, an awesome Oscar-winning actor, fighter, bon vivant, two-fisted drinker, manic/depressive, insomniac, leader of the Rat Pack. Oh yes, and the world's most successful ladies man.
It's tough to conjure up one line to define someone as multi-faceted as Frank Sinatra, but if you tried, it may have been "He loved women and women loved him."
"He had sex on the brain," says Nanci Venturi, who knew Frank from his early day. "He would make love to anyone who came along."
According to friend Joey D'Orazio, Frank confided to him, "I just want to make it with as many women as I can."
These quotes and the basic picture we all have of Frankie the swinger may all, indeed, be true. But like most of us, Frank Sinatra had both Jeckyll and Hyde sides. Yes, he did have women on the brain, like almost all men. A common Sinatra phrase while hanging out with his pals in the lounge of the Sands hotel in Las Vegas was, "We're all men sitting there. Where are the broads?"
Okay, what did Frank Sinatra look for in a woman? "A sense of humor," he once answered, but later in the same conversation, he gave this fascinating elaboration: "I'm supposed to have a PhD on the subject of women, but the truth is, I've flunked more often than not. I'm very fond of women; I admire them. But like all men, I don't understand them."
Although the common perception of Sinatra would probably be of the ultimate skirt-chaser who scored with countless females, from the world-famous to the obscurely anonymous, Frank definitely has a more refined side. "Make her feel appreciated, make her feel beautiful," he once advised.
What did Sinatra look for in a woman physically? After all, he was a guy. Was he a a "leg man"? Big breasts? A sexy figure? Frank once gave this interesting reply: "I like intelligent women. When you go out, it shouldn't be a staring contest... The first thing I notice about a woman is her hands. How they're kept. Grooming is important." He once said, "I don't like walking perfume ads. First of all, I've got an allergy to them. I like women's clothing to be subtle. I don't like excessive makeup."
In looking for women, "He craved class," according to his former valet George Jacobs.
Sinatra hated women who smoked excessively. He visited Tokyo in 1960 and said, "Japanese chicks don't have nicotine stains on their fingers. They don't wear trousers and you don't smell Chanel No. 5 after shaking hands with them."
"What's funny, and what most people don't know about him, is how traditional he is," said Sinatra's daughter Nancy. "He didn't like skirts that were really too-too short." Nancy recalled buying one of the first miniskirts from Carnaby Street and how uncomfortable she saw it made her father. "It was hard to reconcile that. But he never said a word."
According to close pal Tony Curtis, "He is one of the biggest prudes I've ever met… He's an old-fashioned man. I've never heard him use a vulgar word in front of a woman."
"He was hopeless on the dance floor," according to his second wife Ava Gardner. Ironically, he did all his best dancing in the movies -with male partners.
Frank Sinatra loved bestowing expensive gifts on ladies he cared for: diamond bracelets and necklaces, expensive rings and jewelry, and like Elvis, he sometimes gave them cars. He was careful never to give money, as he thought they might consider it a tacky reward for "services rendered."
According to close girlfriend Juliet Prowse, "He was amazingly kind and gentle."
Once, out of curiosity, Sinatra went to Hugh Hefner's legendary Playboy Club in Chicago. He thought the girls tried too hard and didn't like the way they seemed so beholden to Hefner. Sinatra skipped out fast and went back to his room at the Ambassador Hotel. (Tellingly, the Bunny he wanted knocked at his door within the hour.)
In 1968, Sinatra was quoted as saying, "I don't go for topless. I've never seen a topless bathing suit, but I don't have to see one to know I wouldn't like it. I don't go for extreme cleavage, either. I like women to be women."
Ex-wife Mia Farrow remembered Frank as a great hand-holder. She recalled holding hands and looking at the bright stars in the desert skies together. About these moments, she recalled, "I felt closer to him than I've ever felt to anyone in my life."
Sinatra's last wife, Barbara Marx, remembered his "random toasts" to her. Frank would raise his often-filled glass and say, "I drink to you, my love, because I adore you."
Actress Gina Lollobrigida never forgot Frank's words while taking a walk with him during the filming of the movie Never So Few in 1959. "Walk a little slower, Baby, so we can enjoy it more," he said.
Sinatra loved driving and always liked to drive himself, no chauffeurs, especially on dates. Actress Angie Dickinson, another girlfriend, recalled how, unlike some men, Frank would never leave her at a party. Like many women, she cared for her hair and how it looked. She remembered how Frank, without ever saying anything directly about it, would never drive her in a convertible because he knew she didn't want her hair to get messed up.
"He made you feel like a million bucks," said actress Suzanne Somers, a dinner companion during Frank's later years.
"It may sound old-fashioned," Frank once said, "But I think all women should be treated like my wife, daughters, and granddaughters should be treated. Standing when a woman enters the room, helping her on with her coat, letting her enter an elevator first. No woman is offended by politeness."
Contrary to the famed Sinatra image, in an interview, Frank stated, "When I see a woman who's attractive, it's not a sexual thing. At least, not immediately. I just admire the way she walks, for instance, or her carriage in general, and her general appearance."
Play, wait a minute. Wasn't it Frank Sinatra who called women "broads," "chicks," and "skirts"? Frank replied, "Broads, chicks, skirts, baby, a woman's reaction to those words rendered depends a great deal on how they're spoken and in what context. To me, they are all ladies."
Co-star Doris Day remembered filming Young at Heart with Sinatra in 1955. After filming a very weepy scene, she had tears on her face. A stagehand tossed a box of Kleenex to her. It hit her and bounced off her forehead. Sinatra immediately lunged at the shocked stagehand. "Don't you ever do that!" he said angrily. "You don't throw things at lady, understand? You offer her a Kleenex!"
After Frank demonstrated the proper way to "offer" a Kleenex, the scared stagehand apologized. To this day, Doris says, "Whenever I pull a Kleenex out of a box, I think of Frank."
Love him or hate him, Sinatra fan or not, we all have to agree on the fact that Frank Sinatra was a one-of-a-kind character. At the birth of his first granddaughter, Angela Jennifer, Frank said, "I wish her a hundred times the fun I've had and as many guys as I've had broads."
"Some grandfather," daughter Nancy recalled with a loving smile on her face.
[Ed. note: Frank Sinatra was born on December 12, 1915. Today would have been his 98th birthday.]