February 21, 1997


Stories, tributes, and attempts to understand the Chairman of the Board.


Host Ira Glass, with a recording of a 1962 Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr., appearance at the Villa Venice, a club outside Chicago. What's fascinating about Sinatra is how he is so many different people at once, and they're all on display in this recording: sentimental crooner, cruel woman-baiter, bully, goofball. The part of the act with Sammy Davis, Jr. is the oddest. Martin and Sinatra are constantly telling him to get off the stage and make joke after joke, whose main point is simply that he's a black man, onstage with two white men. Chicago writer Rennie Sparks makes the case that Sinatra is mesmerizing because he's every man, every possible man, all rolled into one. (7 minutes)
Act One

The Death Of Frank Sinatra

Michael Ventura, who grew up Sicilian in New York, says that as a kid he thought Sinatra was in his family. His book The Death of Frank Sinatra is not really about Sinatra. It's about men like Ventura, who drew part of their style and sense of self from Frank. He reads from the only section in the book where Sinatra actually appears: an account of a Sinatra concert, circa 1994. He says he wanted to write about the older Sinatra because the older Sinatra contains all the ages of Sinatra. All of them come forward when he sings. (12 minutes)


“Angel Eyes” by Frank Sinatra on his 80th birthday
Act Five

How Sinatra Affects Us

New York writer Camden Joy tells what happened when in a greasy spoon restaurant filled with cabbies and club kids when Frank's film The Manchurian Candidate came on television. The whole place got silent, watched the film, and choked up. (9 minutes)

Other Sinatra music throughout the show.