This Frank Sinatra biography does not cover the entire life of Frank Sinatra. It begins ends in 1954 when Sinatra won an Academy Award for his performance in From Here to Eternity. Sinatra lived for another forty-four years after that, releasing successful albums as late as the 1980s and performing as late as the 1990s. The period up to 1954 does cover the peak of his career, but there was plenty more to come, and to me the story seemed incomplete. Is there a second volume coming from James Kaplan? There’s no indication of this but it might be a good idea. What this Frank Sinatra biography does do is describe Sinatra’s early life and the way he built his career. With an early musical start, singing for coins in a bar owned by his father at age twelve, it soon became clear that he had a voice like few others, and he would build on that in years to come. Beginning in the swing era performing with Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra would move all the way into various versions of rock in a career covering six decades.
The heart of a long musical career
Sinatra’s two marriages (to Nancy Barbato and Ava Gardner) are covered, as well as both his musical and movie careers. Nothing about Sinatra is glossed over in this Frank Sinatra biography (his ties to organized crime, his serial adulteries – for one of which he was prosecuted in a day when it was a crime – his suicide attempts, his panic over the apparent failure of his career in the late 1940s) but at the same time this is more serious than a celebrity gossip book. I was a little surprised to learn how much Sinatra was involved in the production of his songs, but that appears to be true. I was also surprised to find out that he was classified 4-F for both a perforated eardrum and psychiatric problems and so did not serve in World War II. There’s a lot of information in this book. Frank Sinatra wasn’t just a pair of pretty blue eyes and a golden voice, he had a lot of smarts and talent, if a rather disturbed personality. This Frank Sinatra biography is a good book and I hope more is coming.