Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Frank Sinatra, Jr. Kidnapping

Money Obsession

Barry Keenan
Barry Keenan

Barry Keenan had always been a financial striver.

He grew up in L.A. and attended University High School — Uni High — which counts among its alumni Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor, Ryan O'Neal, Jeff Bridges, James Brolin, David Cassidy, Sandra Dee, Roddy McDowall, Penelope Ann Miller and Randy Newman.

Keenan's classmates included Jan Berry and Dean Torrence, of the surf-pop duo Jan and Dean, whose hits included "Surf City" and "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena." Another school chum was Nancy Sinatra, eldest of the three Sinatra children.

University High School
University High School

Keenan's parents divorced when he was a toddler. His father was a failed stockbroker who struggled with alcoholism. His mother battled depression.

Barry Keenan was determined to overcome his background and become wealthy like his famous classmates. He was obsessed with being a millionaire by his 30th birthday.

As he put it in a curious letter to his father before the Sinatra kidnapping, "Money has always been of the utmost importance to me."

In fact, he tasted financial success as a very young man. He had been the youngest member ever of the Los Angeles Stock Exchange, and he had made money on real estate investments while still attending UCLA.

Jan Berry and Dean Torrence
Jan Berry and Dean Torrence

But then his young life turned. Keenan would later peg his downfall to a car accident in Westwood in 1961 that left him with chronic back pain that led to a Percodan addiction.

His physical problems were trumped by financial ruin brought on by the stock market crash in the spring of 1962 and a divorce that followed a brief marriage.

By the summer of 1963, Keenan's bank accounts were depleted. So like a good Jaycee, he began to develop a business plan to recover his lost wealth.

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