Frank Sinatra heartbreak: How Blue Eyes' rows with mother shaped him 'until dying day'


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Guys and Dolls: Frank Sinatra stars in 1955 trailer

Frank Sinatra’s — the man nicknamed Ol’ Blue Eyes — legacy endures decades after his death, and he remains one of the entertainment industry’s most iconic names. He built his reputation with his distinct voice, spawning hits that are remembered by every generation. Not content with securing his star just in music, during the Fifties, Sinatra took on the world of acting, achieving critical and commercial acclaim wherever he went. His career in cinema reached an incredible peak in 1953 when he clinched the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in From Here to Eternity. Golden Globes, Emmys and Grammys all followed him, who across the course of his career, it was predicted, had sold an astonishing 150 million records. For his achievements, Time magazine included him among the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

Though Sinatra’s career success always seemed inevitable, according to his daughter Nancy, herself a popular entertainer responsible for hits like These Boots Are Made For Walking, it was Ol Blue Eyes’ relationship with his mother, Natalina “Dolly” Garaventa, that helped him on his path to stardom.

Nancy believed that Dolly helped push Sinatra on as a result of their notorious rows, and their arguments ultimately lasted a lifetime.

Speaking in Tom Santopietro’s 2008 book Sinatra in Hollywood, Nancy said: “They’d fought through his childhood and continued to do so until her dying day. But I believe that to counter her steel will he’d developed his own.

“To prove her wrong when she belittled his choice of career. Their friction first had shaped him; that, I think, had remained to the end and a litmus test of the grit in his bones. It helped keep him at the top of his game.”

Frank Sinatra heartbreak: Blue Eyes' rows with mother 'until dying day... shaped him'

Frank Sinatra heartbreak: Blue Eyes’ rows with mother ‘until dying day… shaped him’ (Image: GETTY)

Frank Sinatra with the Queen

Frank Sinatra with the Queen (Image: GETTY)

His life nearly never took off, however, as a result of complications with Dolly’s pregnancy. Born on December 12, 1915, Sinatra weighed around six kilograms at birth and had to be delivered with the support of forceps. This resulted in Sinatra sustaining scarring to his left cheek, neck and ear, as well as a perforated eardrum. The difficulties didn’t end there.

When Sinatra arrived his grandmother had to resuscitate him by running him under cold water until he “gasped his first breath”, as he came out in an unconscious state. As a result, he had to wait nearly five months to be baptised. recounted those terrifying first moments as the Sinatra family waited, hoping for their young new addition to take a lungful of air. It noted how the doctor in charge of Sinatra’s birth “ripped” the crooner’s cheek, leading to his injuries.

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Frank Sinatra is among Hollywood's biggest names

Frank Sinatra is among Hollywood’s biggest names (Image: GETTY)

It continued: “He was not breathing and the mother was not in good condition. The doctor focused on mother thinking that the boy would not survive.

“When Sinatra’s grandmother noticed that he wasn’t breathing, she held the baby under cold water till he started breathing. And this is how Sinatra survived that birth. If his grandmother weren’t there, there would probably be no Frank Sinatra in the history.

“This, of course, would be painful for Frank Sinatra to think of as he got older and became more aware of what happened. He is known to say, ‘They weren’t thinking about me, they were just thinking about my mother. They just kind of ripped me out and tossed me aside.'”

As a result of his career, Sinatra enjoyed his share of romantic attention. By the time of his death, at the age of 82 as a result of a heart attack, he had had four wives, including Barbara.

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Frank Sinatra also claimed an Oscar in his career

Frank Sinatra also claimed an Oscar in his career (Image: GETTY)

Throughout his life he was linked romantically with dozens of famous women, including the Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe. Two of his wives were also celebrities in their own right: Mia Farrow and Ava Gardener.

Barbara recalled how Sinatra “attracted women” and “couldn’t help” the attention he received in her 2011 autobiography Lady Blue Eyes: My Life with Frank Sinatra. She said: “Just to look at him—the way he moved, and how he behaved—was to know that he was a great lover and true gentleman.

“He adored the company of women and knew how to treat them. I had friends whose husbands were ‘players’, and every time the husbands had affairs my friends were showered with gifts.

“Well, I was constantly showered with gifts, but no matter what temptations Frank may have had while I wasn’t around, he made me feel so safe and loved that I never became paranoid about losing him.”


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