MORBID CURIOSITY: Celebrity Tombstones Across America | home
Back to: Celebrity Grave Stories
December 12, 1915 - May 14, 1998
Born 1915, in Hoboken, New Jersey, Francis Albert Sinatra was thought to be stillborn. But thanks to the quick thinking of his grandmother, a former midwife who doused him with cold water, he was okay. Maybe his slow start in life was why he grew to be a rather scrawny child. But what he lacked in physical stature, he made up with a charismatic, strong willed personality that most said he inherited from his mother.
A brush with the New Jersey Police got young Frank this photograph.
Sinatra’s start into show business was the successful win of first prize in the 1935 radio talent program, Major Bowes Amateur Hour. Within a few years he was a regular, singing with that show and playing an occasional club and radio gig. In addition to that he held down a $15 a week job as a singing MC and headwaiter at an Englewood, N.J. eatery called the Rustic Cabin. It was there that he was discovered by trumpeter and bandleader Harry James, who was looking for a featured singer for his band.
While Sinatra sang with Harry James, it was rumored that his manager planted frenzied females in the front row to get the crowd going. It seems that he really didn't need this because all of his appearances were sold out and his records were now dominating the charts.
In the late 40’s, Sinatra became interested in pursuing an acting career. His charismatic personality was exploited in a string of “cool”, generally music-oriented films.
The early 50’s became his gloomy period. First, a scandalous affair with screen sex goddess, Ava Gardner, that led to the break up of his marriage. This was a stupid move for Sinatra because in that era things in Hollywood were quite conservative. When news broke that he left his wife and three small children to marry Gardner, the press had a field day which almost destroyed his career. Then the following year, his vocal cords suddenly hemorrhaged. With all this bad luck, his music career foundered in neglect, his film career stalled out and his personal life ended up in shambles. The 37 year old Sinatra was clearly considered a write off when he was dropped by Universal, CBS TV, Columbia Records, and worst of all his agent.
In 1953, things began to turn around for Sinatra. He landed a role in “From Here to Eternity,”and embarked on a new recording contract with Capitol Records. Sinatra’s phoenix-like creative renaissance was due to Ava Gardner’s help in securing him that movie role.
Twenty years later, Sinatra announced his retirement from both recording and acting in 1971. However, he did do a television special and album, “Ol Blue Eyes Is Back” 1973. Then in 1980, he played in an urban crime drama, “The First Deadly Sin.” His last project was an album entitled, “Duets” (1993) that was followed by "Duets II” that he did in 1994.
Although Sinatra continued to perform in the early part of the 90’s, his health began to trouble him. Years of smoking and heavy drinking had taken their toll on his body. On one occasion he lost consciousness as he was performing and had to be rushed to the hospital where he spent time recuperating. Realizing that he could not perform as he once did, he retired to his home. He occupied his time by painting and spending more time with his family, which allowed him to take the final years of his life a little easier.
Frank in 1996
His heart problems became progressively worse in 1997 and he was in and out of hospitals on a regular basis. Finally the end came on Thursday night, May 14th, when Frank died of a heart attack at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. As reported from the Sinatra web site, he went out fighting. His children said. “Please know that Frank was courageous and fought very hard, and that he never gave up, not even at the very end. He came in fighting for his life, and he went out fighting for his life.” His last words were, “I’m losing.”
Sinatra’s Funeral took place at the Good Shepherd Catholic Church. His casket was covered with his favorite flower, gardenias, which also hung in wreaths above each of the three doors of the church. And as usual for “ol blue eyes” it was a standing room only crowd minus the screaming girls in the front row. More than 500 mourners, including his widow and children packed the church, which was covered with the white flowers.
Frank’s wife, Barbara, and some of the family accompanied the casket to Palm Springs on a private jet, where he was buried beside his parents, Natalie “Dolly” Sinatra and Anthony Martin Sinatra.
Like Sonny Bono, Frank is buried in Palm Springs, California. When I found his grave, I also found the graves of practically his whole family and friends. They almost took up the whole row, squeezing out Zsa-Zsa Gabor’s mother and sister into the next row. First is Frank’s dad, his mother, his uncle Vincent, then Frank, then a spot (perhaps for his current wife, Barbara), then his friend Jilly, and then his mother and father-in-law. Amazing in life he was always surrounding by many wives, children, and assorted family members, and in death he mimics this. I wonder if there is space left for wife #1, and Mia as well. As for Ava she's better off in North Carolina, there she has a crowd of family members of her own.
Shortly after Frank’s death, it appears that he reached out from the great beyond to protect something dear to him, a life size portrait of himself that hung on the wall of the first club he worked in. When the 500 Club, owned by friend Skinny Damato was burned to the ground the only thing that survived unscathed was Sinatra’s picture.
Desert Memorial Park
69920 E Ramon Road
Cathedral City, California
Directions: I-10 to Ramon Road exit and go south, the cemetery is on your right. Go to the office and get a map. Park any where and walk up 8 rows to B8 Sinatra is about the third or forth in. His grave is #151
Donated by someone who wishes to remain anonymous