Little Rock Look Back: Frank Sinatra at 100

FAS 100Frank Sinatra never made a public appearance in Little Rock, or even Arkansas. But his musical genius continues to be felt throughout the state.

100 years ago today he was born in Hoboken, New Jersey.  Over the years he went from idol of the bobby-soxers to major Hollywood heavyweight and then to musical mentor.  He was also a businessman and record executive. Though sometimes in headlines because of his personal life, his talent was so overwhelming that any personal failings seemed to be quickly overlooked.

He came up as an admirer of FDR and was a close friend of JFK. In later years, he tended to be associated with GOP candidates, but usually befriended whoever was in the Oval Office.

Upon his death in May 1998, former Little Rock resident President Bill Clinton issued a statement.

Hillary and I were deeply saddened to hear of the death of a musical legend and an American icon, Frank Sinatra. Early in his long career, fans dubbed him ‘The Voice.’ And that was the first thing America noticed about Frank Sinatra: that miraculous voice, strong and subtle, wisecracking and wistful, streetwise but defiantly sweet. In time he became so much more. Sinatra was a spellbinding performer, on stage or on screen, in musicals, comedies and dramas. He built one of the world’s most important record companies. He won countless awards, from the Grammy — nine times — to the Academy Award, to the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And he dedicated himself to humanitarian causes.

“When I became president, I had never met Frank Sinatra, although I was an enormous admirer of his. I had the opportunity after I became president to get to know him a little, to have dinner with him, to appreciate on a personal level what fans around the world, including me, appreciated from afar.

“Frank Sinatra will be missed profoundly by millions around the world. But his music and movies will ensure that ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ is never forgotten. Today, I think every American would have to smile and say he really did do it his way.

FAS tieIn 2013, as part of an exhibit of photography and artifacts of jazz musicians, the Clinton Presidential Center featured one of Sinatra’s bowties. It is pictured here.