TRENTON, NEW JERSEY – Frank Sinatra was the Chairman of the Board, Ol’ Blue Eyes and The Voice. But “Slacksy O’Brien?”
That was an early nickname for Sinatra in the Hoboken neighborhood where he grew up because, as a youngster, he wore nice clothes.
Some young-at-heart residents of Hoboken might be raising a glass to the award-winning singer and actor on Saturday on what would have been his 100th birthday.
A look back at a century of Sinatra:
FROM HERE TO ETERNITY
Francis Albert Sinatra was born on Dec. 12, 1915, in the Hudson River waterfront city that was home to German, Irish and Italian immigrants.
His father, Anthony, was a boxer who fought in Irish gyms as “Marty O’Brien” before becoming a firefighter and tavern owner. His mother, known as “Dolly,” was connected to the local political machine.
Even though the family initially lived in a cold-water apartment at 415 Monroe St., they eventually had such luxuries as a radio, telephone and car while his mother made sure her son had nice clothes, Hoboken Historical Museum director Robert Foster said.
START SPREADING THE NEWS
The high school dropout delivered the Jersey Observer newspaper and worked at a shipyard.
The car — and a driver’s license in which his name was misspelled SINTRA — helped gain him a spot in 1935 with the singing group the Hoboken Four. They won first prize on a national radio program for amateur entertainers.
He became a singing waiter at The Rustic Cabin in Englewood Cliffs, where he met songwriter Cole Porter, and forgot the words to Porter’s hit, “Night And Day,” the 100 Sinatra website said.
Radio led Sinatra to big bands and stardom.
STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT
Sinatra offered his assistance to the FBI in 1950, according to a confidential memorandum obtained in 1998 by The Associated Press. It showed Sinatra felt there was an opportunity to “do some good for his country under the direction of the FBI.” He was “willing to do anything even if it affects his livelihood and costs him his job,” the memo said. The FBI turned down the offer.
The file also contained Sinatra’s mug shot, taken by the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office in 1938, after his arrest on a seduction charge that was later dropped.
LUCK BE A LADY
Sinatra’s Rat Pack persona is associated with Las Vegas, but he gets credit for filling Atlantic City’s casino showrooms with top talent after he appeared in 1979 at the city’s first casino, Resorts International.
Following a show at Atlantic City’s Golden Nugget in 1983, Sinatra and Dean Martin demanded a blackjack dealer break the rules, costing the casino a $25,000 fine.
A commissioner called Sinatra “an obnoxious bully” with a “bloated ego.”
Sinatra scrapped an engagement and his lawyer issued a statement saying, “He will not perform in a state where appointed officials feel the compulsion to use him as a punching bag.”
His last engagement in Atlantic City was at the Sands in 1994.
DRINK UP, ALL YOU PEOPLE
People left flowers near the plaque where Sinatra’s first home once stood when he died in 1998 at age 82. A commemorative Mass was slated at St. Francis Roman Catholic Church, where Sinatra was baptized, at 6 p.m. Sunday. Whatever real or imagined slights felt by some residents were forgotten.
Sinatra was inducted in the first class of New Jersey’s Hall of Fame in 2008. A park and the city’s main post office bear his name.
The Postal Service in 2008 issued a 42-cent stamp with his image, taking the rare step of holding three ceremonies in Hoboken, New York and Las Vegas.
But for a saloon singer who usually had a drink on stage, Sinatra’s ultimate honor came from Jack Daniel’s, which introduced Sinatra Select whiskey in 2003.
To honor the 100th anniversary of Sinatra’s birth, Jack Daniel’s produced 100 barrels of 100-proof Sinatra Century, which retails for $499.99 and includes an unreleased Sinatra recording.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5