Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Frank Sinatra, Jr. Kidnapping

That's Life

Frank Sr. and Nancy Barbato
Frank Sr. and Nancy Barbato

The Sinatra offspring could have warned Keenan that wealth wasn't everything.

Frank, Sr. had married Nancy Barbato, his Hoboken, N.J., childhood sweetheart, in 1939, the year the crooner began to find fame as the "boy singer" of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

Daughter Nancy was born in 1940, followed by Frank, Jr. in 1944. By the time daughter Tina arrived in 1948, Sinatra was out of the Dorsey band and avidly pursuing an acting career.

The family moved from New Jersey to Los Angeles, where in 1951 Sinatra left his wife for actress Ava Gardner. The two were married barely a week after his divorce from Nancy was final.

Ava Gardner
Ava Gardner

(The tempestuous Gardner relationship lasted less than two years. Sinatra also was married briefly to Mia Farrow. She was 21 and he 50 when they wed in 1966. Sinatra's fourth and final marriage, in 1976 to Barbara Blakeley, ex-wife of Zeppo Marx, endured 22 years, until his death in 1998.)

Sinatra had a remote relationship with his children, who lived with their mother in a Bel-Air mansion.

As Frank Jr. told the Washington Post in 2006, "He was unreachable. He was traveling, or off making some movie... It was only on rare occasions when we saw each other."

Frank Sinatra, Sr. was the king of all media by 1963.

Sinatra Jr. with Dad
Sinatra Jr. with Dad

"Sinatra-Basie," his recording with the bandleader Count Basie, was a hit among the jazz set, and his pop recordings continued to dominate radio — at least among the stations that had not gone rock 'n' roll.

After nearly 20 years of film roles, he had finally gained critical praise for his work in The Manchurian Candidate. To boot, he hosted the Academy Awards on ABC television in 1963.

He had limitless fame and wealth. But more importantly, he had gained legitimacy. After years of whispers about mob connections, Sinatra had forged friendships with upstanding citizens, including President John Kennedy.

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