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Frank Sinatra - The First American Idol (part2 of 3)

Updated on September 18, 2015
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He was known as "The Voice", "Ol' Blue Eyes", and "Chairman of the Board". The greatest Pop singer of his era and maybe all time. This is the continuing story of Frank Sinatra, the Singer.

For over forty years Frank Sinatra defined popular music in America. The breadth and depth of his body of work boggles the imagination: Tens of millions of recordings, nine Grammys and two Academy Awards, some 60 films, worldwide tours, television specials, hundreds of millions of dollars raised for charities. In sheer productivity, few popular artists could touch the hem of his tuxedo jacket.

I've Got You Under My Skin - Frank Sinatra with Nelson Riddle Orchestra

The Start of a Singing Career

The very popular and successful Bandleader and Trumpet Player, Harry James, hired Sinatra, giving him a one year contract which earned him $75 a week. The young singer released his first commercial record, "From the Bottom of My Heart" in July, 1939. The recording sold fewer than 8,000copies which made the record a rare find and record collectors worldwide were interested in adding it to their collections. The record business is unpredictable. The song "All or Nothing at All" started off with weak sales, but a few years later, it sold millions of copies when Columbia Records re-released it at the height of Sinatra's popularity. If not for Harry James, Sinatra may have never realized his dream, to be a singer, performer and recording artist.

A turning point in Sinatra's career came when he signed with bandleader Tommy Dorsey who's band was one of the hottest bands at that time. Singing with Dorsey, increased Sinatras visability with the American public. Harry James, graciously let Frank out of his contract with him, realizing that to sign with Dorsey would be a great opportunity for Frank. Sinatra never forgot James' kindness and gave him the credit for his (Sinatras') rise to fame.

In his first year with Dorsey, Sinatra released more than forty songs. In today's market, not one other recording star can equal that number. The hit song, "Ill Never Smile Again", topped the charts, (one of my favorites).

Meanwhile, the relationship between Sinatra and Dorsey had definite problems because of the contract between the two. A greedy Dorsey was awarded 1/2 of Sinatra's lifetime earnings in the entertainment industry. That is pretty hard to believe, but it is well documented. Still, it was with Tommy Dorsey's orchestra that the classic Sinatra crooning began and the idol started to take form.

By the early forties Sinatra had made a name for himself and he bought out his contract with Dorsey to pursue a solo career which he wanted badly. Success followed him and so did swarms of adoring teenage girls just to hear his unique phrasing and emotional performances." As his name became known nationally, there developed a new phenomenom - "bobby soxers" - hordes of teenage girls who would scream and mob the young crooner wherever he appeared. Frank soon became tired of this and wanted his privacy. His hands would ache after tireless autograph sessions with his fans. His tie, hat and shirts were literally ripped from his body.

Sinatra's Birthplace

A markerHoboken, New Jersey -
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Birthplace of Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra at the height of his career
Frank Sinatra at the height of his career | Source

Sinatra - "The Voice"

Sinatra's big band debut in 1939 marked the beginning of an astonishing period of popular song recording, quality movie performances and radio and television successes which is unlikely ever to be equaled. He most definitely was the first "American Idol".

In May 1941, Sinatra was at the top of the male singer polls in the Billboard and Downbeat magazines and on December 31, 1942, Sinatra opened at the Paramount Theater in New York, a huge event.

Many of of his songs have become world classics. In the mid-1960s he had major hits with songs like 'Strangers in the Night,' 'It Was a Very Good Year' and 'That's Life'. Frank Sinatra won five Grammys. Then in 1969 he topped it all with 'My Way', the record with which he is most closely associated and which he called his 'National Anthem'. Even today, it is one of the most played of all the Sinatra songs.

His recording success continued after he founded his own recording company, Reprise Records, and produced such outstanding albums as "Moonlight Sinatra," and "Strangers in the Night". He was able to look back with satisfaction at his work during this most fruitful time of his career. He had climbed back. He was now an international superstar and one of the most famous men in the world.

Frank Sinatra's Oscar Winning Performance in "From Here to Eternity"

His oscar-winning role of "Prewitt" in Classic film "From Here to Eternity."
His oscar-winning role of "Prewitt" in Classic film "From Here to Eternity." | Source

Hollywood and Frank Sinatra

It was bound to happen. In 946, Frank Sinatra, the singer, became an outstanding actor and signed a five-year film contract with M-G-M. His primary focus was now on acting and away from music. Just as he was, on stage, Sinatra's charisma came through on film and he went on to star in a variety of movies that often featured his songs. The most successful of the early films was Anchors Aweigh with Gene Kelly in 1945 and On the Town in 1949.

Sinatra went on to give a riveting performance as a heroin addict in the 1955 Otto Preminger film, " The Man With the Golden Arm." He received critical acclaim for his role in the 1962 Cold War psychodrama, " The Manchurian Candidate." Along with the dramatic roles, Sinatra maintained his involvement in more lighthearted, entertaining musical feature films like Guys and Dolls (1955), High Society (1956), and Pal Joey (1957).

How many Frank Sinatra CD's Do You Have?

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Summary

Sinatra's idol was Bing Crosby. Crosby was his biggest infuence and major inspiration as a singer.

Popular band leader and trumpet player, Harry James (once married to film star Betty Grable,) gave Sinatra his big break when he hired Frank to sing with his band.

When Hollywood came calling to cast him in motion pictures, he responded.

Frank Sinatra loved acting and appeared in 58 films, winning three Oscars, two Golden Globe Awards, and 10 Grammy Awards.

Sinatras life was not all glamour and success. As we explore Part 3, the more personal life of Frank Sinatra - The Man and His Music will reveal how he indeed "Did it His way."


To read or review Part 1 click here.

Affordable and Unforgettable Frank Sinatra Recordings

Whether a collector of timeless classics or a fan of the great Sinatra, you'll want to include these albums in your library of music.

Notice how relaxed and free he displays his voice.

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    • vocalcoach profile image
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      Audrey Hunt 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Hi Jodah - You've go that right. These two singers continue to be imitated year after year. And Michael Buble has done very well for himself.

      Thank you - Audrey

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Great tribute to a great singer vocalcoach. Frank and Elvis would have to be the two most copied singers in the world. Look how popular a crooner Michael Bubble is now singing Sinatra and the like.

    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Dear Leighsue ~ You and I are kindred spirits. Come fly w/ me is also one of my favorites. And boy are you right when you say they just don't write music like this anymore. There was only 1 FRANK. Michael Buble tries hard...but he's not even close to Sinatra. Thanks!

    • Leighsue profile image

      Leighsue 5 years ago

      They don't make music like this anymore, and there's no FRANK.

    • Leighsue profile image

      Leighsue 5 years ago

      Come fly with me is one of my favorite Frank songs. thanks.

    • vocalcoach profile image
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      Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Awwwwwwwwwwwwww...Micky! You make my skin tingle!!

      Love you!

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 6 years ago

      I can only say, I've got you under my skin. Great hub dear vocalcoach.

    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Hi GmaGoldie - So great to see you here. Yes, your mother knew great singing. He was and still is the best!

      And, This song is my favorite too. :-) Wish we could listen to it together!

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      vocalcoach,

      My Mother LOVED him and as I grow older, I gain a deeper appreciation. Great Hub! I love that song! Could play that over and over again!

    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 7 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      tracykarl99 - So glad to hear that you like my hub. I look forward to reading your articles. Thanks for the follow.

    • tracykarl99 profile image

      Tracy 7 years ago from San Francisco

      I love Frank Sinatra. Had no idea "All Or Nothing AT All" was a first! Thanks for a great hub!!

    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 7 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Dolores Monet - Glad you mentioned "Summer Wind". It's hard to imagine any other singer doing this Frank Sinatra classic. Thank you for contributing.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

      A voice like no other, Frank Sinatra was the best. Even my 19 year old can identify that unique voice and love him! My favorite song was 'Summer Wind.' Sinatra was a real classic!

    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 7 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      William - I thank you for visiting my hub on Sinatra, knowing that "Bing" is your favorite. If it were not for Crosbys perfect voice and influence on Frank, not sure how things would have turned out for the singer. And, for the record, I love Bing Crosby and teach my male vocal students to listen to him for the flawless sound that he has. The video of your cousin, Michael Torpey was

      very enjoyable and he is an excellent singer with a very impressive range. Took me back to my cruise ship days, supporting my kids as a singer/pianist. Thanks William.

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      You make a great case for Frank Sinatra, vocalcoach. He certainly had a wonderful voice and made some top-notch acting performances. But, as you know, Bing Crosby remains my favorite (and 10 years before Sinatra was deluged by bobby soxers Bing had his own version of young enthusiasts. By the way, my cousin, Michael Torpey, paid tribute to Frank on a cruise ship and can be heard on this youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lxALg6cwFE&p=4...

    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 7 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      epigramman...Once again, I am so honored to receive your kind comments. How clever you are - "Night and Day".

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 7 years ago

      ....gee NOW you've got my attention - Frank would've loved this hub - and the in the words of the great Cole Porter I could read your hubs both "Night and Day" ....

    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 7 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Thank you, sweet one, katiem2. I just love reading your comments to other hubbers articles. You always seem to know just what to say and are never at a loss for words. You have the most creative mind. What a gift and talent!

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      What a timeless treasure Frank Sinatra is, I can't imagine a wedding without him. I look forward to reading the rest of your work on Frank Sinatra as this is just fantastic. Love it! Peace :)

    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 7 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      hello, hello - It may have been his attitude/personality.

      It is well known that he was "full of himself". It is perfectly alright not to be a fan of his. I really want to thank you for commenting and have a wonderful day!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Sorry, being a dampener but somehow I could never take to Frank Sinatra. I know he was a great success but there was something about him I couldn't take.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 7 years ago from South Africa

      You have me now really in a mood to go and buy some Frank Sinatra CD's. I have his songs on many 'selections of the bests', though I'm now quite sure I don't have all his bests. Thanks for a great hub. I'm looking forward to Part 3.

    • profile image

      masmasika 7 years ago

      I love Frank Sinatra and his songs. Of course it is obvious because of my age. His songs never age.

    • equealla profile image

      equealla 7 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      A little while ago I found a Frank cd in the store and bought it. The younger generation who does not know him or remember him, was crazy about it. Just proves, real talent will never grow stale!

    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 7 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      saddlerider1 - You have a very good knowledge of Frank and Elvis. I enjoy your comments very much. I really like your articles and look forward to getting to all of them. I am definetly a fan!

    • saddlerider1 profile image

      saddlerider1 7 years ago

      Like Elvis my all time recording artist, Frankie had the bobbysockers swooning no doubt. He was at the top of his game in that period. He later captured the hearts of the older generation and we followed his career both in the acting field as well as his many many hits. Paul Anka wrote some of his TOP hits and My Way was his signature song without a doubt. Strangers in the night would be a close second?

      Frank captured the hearts of millions of fans all over the world and to this day like Elvis has many followers. They were both fantastic entertainers. Although Frank in my opinion a more diversified actor.

      Elvis hated doing most of his bubble gum movies, it was the Colonel who was raping him for more money, if it had been Elvis's choice he would not have done a single one. The two I liked the most were Love me Tender and Flaming Star...the rest were to fruity.....lol...

    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 7 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      I wish that the younger generation could appreciate a vocalist of this calibur. Your comment is right on the mark. I thank you for it and wish that It had come from me. May I have permission to quote you in the final chapter of my hub - (pt 3?) Thankyou.

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 7 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      You have done a great service in these Hubs. Let the new generations not miss the magic and intensity of a pioneer and artist. Thank you very much for this Hub!

    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 7 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      The duets are the only CDs I do not have. But, I will have them soon. :-) Thanks Green Lotus. Always nice to see you!

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I too really appreciate Frank. I have the Duets CD's which are great! Thanks.

    • msorensson profile image

      msorensson 7 years ago

      Keep writing, vocalcoach :-)

      Much love, Melinda

    • vocalcoach profile image
      Author

      Audrey Hunt 7 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Hi msorensson - Thank you so much, my friend, for the great comments. Glad you liked the song - it's one of my very favorites. So glad to hear from you.

    • msorensson profile image

      msorensson 7 years ago

      Three Oscars..wow.. I definitely did not know that..Thanks. Oh I love that song "I've got you under my skin"

      Thank you vocalcoach :-)