HE CROONED his way into the hearts of millions of music lovers and his colourful and sometimes turbulent personal life meant he was never far from the media spotlight.
Frank Sinatra was a true icon whose smooth singing voice and sharp style attracted international acclaim, and 27 years after his death at the age of 82, his panache behind the microphone continues to influence musical artists around the world and spawn thousands of tribute acts.
Today, the Rat Pack singer turned actor - born Francis Albert Sinatra - would have celebrated his 100th birthday and to mark the occasion, the National Media Museum in Bradford has delved into its archives to share photographs of Sinatra that have not been seen for at least 50 years.
The images, taken from the National Photography Collection of Frank Sinatra, were published in the now defunct Daily Herald and date from 1945-1965. Brought together, they offer a unique retrospective look at the man whose voice has sold more than 150 million records.
As well as behind-the-scenes shots from some of his most famous films, there are intimate images of the American crooner on trips to the UK - including a visit to the Sunshine Home for Blind Children in Middlesex.
Michael Terwey, head of collections and exhibitions at the National Media Museum, said the archive collection goes beyond the typical publicity poses.
“He was such an iconic and recognisable figure, and if you Google Image search him now you’ll see all the familiar publicity pictures of him wearing a hat. This collection is much broader and show how he was known to the British public through the newspapers at the time. Once they were published these photographs went back into a filing cabinet marked ‘Sinatra’ and we have gone through this large collection and picked ones which are maybe not quite as familiar to audiences today.”
Selected photographs are being shared with visitors to the National Media Museum’s website, and one, entitled ‘Sinatra Swings Again’ and taken in 1962, shows the singer seemingly landing a punch on actor Henry Silva during filming of The Manchurian Candidate in which Sinatra also starred.
The black and white prints include another showing the star being mobbed by fans as he arrived at the London Palladium to make his live performance debut in the UK in 1950. The original caption printed with the image in the Daily Herald mentions some fans grabbing his bow tie as he passed through the throngs with a police escort.
A photograph captioned ‘A Ring on Ava’s Finger!’, also from 1950 and taken in Spain, shows Sinatra sat with American actress Ava Gardener, who would later become his second wife, while she was in Catalonia filming.
Sinatra married four times, and in one archive photograph he is seen with his third wife Mia Farrow. The original newspaper caption references the singer’s public run ins with the press, reading: “This, we repeat, is THE first picture of them taken together, and indicates that Mr Sinatra has for once conquered his pathological dislike of photographers. “I just can’t stand them”, he has said. Which, we may inform him, is just how Mr Sinatra affects many photographers.”
SINATRA MADE HIS OWN WAY
Known Ol’ Blue Eyes to his legions of adoring fans, Sinatra’s famous hits include Only the Lonely, My Way and New York, New York.
While he may have made his UK debut in the bright lights on London, he was reputed to have made it further north, and is said to have visited the Batley Frontier, previously Batley Variety Club, as a customer.
His 11 Grammy Awards, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award are testament to his enduring musical success.
Later in his career he also became a film star, while away from the stage he was an active political campaigner and was often involved in turbulent affairs with women.
Following his death of a heart attack in 1998, American music critic Robert Christgau called him “the greatest singer of the 20th century”.
To see the online gallery of Sinatra images from the Dairy Herald, click here.