Very much unlike myself, I decided to seek out the singer who had the LEAST in common with Jerry Vale.
This naturally led me to Frank Sinatra, or Sinatra, or Frank, as I described in the last article.
But I thought that was too easy.
And not worth writing about.
So I made what I think is a slightly subtler choice.
Frank Sinatra Jr.
While Jerry Vale started out with nothing, except a beautiful voice, Frank Jr. started out with everything, including a father who was willing to help him at every turn.
Which meant that he was getting a lot of help.
He was part of what was perhaps the second biggest story of 1963.
He was kidnapped and held for ransom at the age of 19, on December 8, 1963 at Harrah's Lake Tahoe. He was released two days later after his father paid the $240,000 demanded by the kidnappers.
Famed pianist and wit, Oscar Levant, remarked at the time "My first suspicion was music critics."
The kidnappers were soon captured, prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to long prison terms for kidnapping, of which they served only small portions (the "mastermind" was later adjudged to have been legally insane at the time of the crime and hence not legally responsible for his actions).
A rumor at the time was that Frank Sr. arranged this in an attempt to gain publicity for his son's fledgling singing career, but it was proven to be false.
The kidnappers demanded communication via payphone.
During one conversation, Frank Sr. ran out of money and was disconnected.
Fearing never seeing his son again, Frank Sr. decided to carry a roll of dimes with him at all times. Payphones at this time cost 10 cents.
This tradition lasted the rest of his life.
At the time of the kidnapping, Frank Sr. and the Rat Pack were filming Robin and the 7 Hoods.
The stress of the kidnapping, in addition to the assassination of Sinatra's close friend John F. Kennedy just a few days previously, caused him to seriously consider shutting down production completely, though the film was ultimately completed.
So originally, the Gods dealt Jerry Vale a bad hand, and Frank Jr. a good hand, even with the kidnapping.
Then things turned for both of them.
In opposite directions.
Vale sold tons of records, and became a headliner.
Frank Jr. became all that he could become: Frank Jr.
He looked just like a young Frank, and sounded just like a young Frank.
But America had already experienced that in the previous generation.
And the old Frank just kept improving with age.
So Frank Jr. never sold records.
He deserved to.
Certainly more than his sister Nancy.
He was never a headliner, except when he fronted Big Bands, trying to keep that tradition alive.
And he wound up conducting for the old man at live appearances after Frank Sr. outlived all of his former conductors, cueing him when he was forgetting his lyrics.
I consider all of this a major shame.
Frank Jr. is a WONDERFUL singer.
With great individual styling.
He brings a personality with him.
And it's not his father's.
I have a couple of his CDs.
Because they are WONDERFUL.
He certainly sang better when they were recorded than the old man did at that point.
And he wrote, and did the arrangements.
He is truly gifted.
And truly unappreciated.
I suppose both things were utterly inevitable.
I sincerely hope we haven't heard the last of him.
My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at email@example.com.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link: www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman
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- mark rothman
- Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."