The Frank Sinatra, Jr. Kidnapping
"When Junior finished his engagement at the Ambassador Hotel, I found out he was playing in Nevada and then going to Europe, and I would lose him," Keenan told L.A. Weekly. "It was do or die."
By then, Keenan had run out of cash, including two $500 "seed money" loans from Dean Torrence.
Keenan managed to lease the Impala and buy enough gas to get to Tahoe. He and Amsler checked into a hotel, but they had to no way to pay, so they were not going to be able to check out.
"I think we had six cents between us," Keenan said. "It became sort of like, now we had to kidnap Frank Sinatra, Jr. just to get out of the hotel. As crazy as that sounds, that's what it boiled down to. I needed to get money from Junior because I didn't have enough gas in the car to get to L.A."
Sinatra was barely able to help. He had just $11 — just enough to get them back to the Canoga Park hideout. En route, they managed to talk their way through two roadblocks set up specifically to catch the Sinatra kidnappers.
Within ten minutes of the abduction, John Foss, the trumpet-playing eyewitness, had wiggled out of his bindings and alerted the orchestra road manager, Tino Barzie.
Soon a phalanx of 100 local and state cops and two dozen FBI agents were searching for the stolen Sinatra. (According to crime legend, Chicago mobster Sam Giancana offered his assistance, but Sinatra, Sr. declined.)
Frank, Sr., in the middle of shooting the forgettable Rat Pack musical Robin and the 7 Hoods, hurried to Lake Tahoe and set up headquarters at the Mapes Hotel in nearby Reno, Nev.
The high-strung Sinatra did not take it well.
"He has just been sitting and staring at the phone," his press mouthpiece, Jim Mahoney, told reporters. "When it rings, he jumps. I had to practically force him to eat. He doesn't think about eating. He just looks at the phone."