Sinatra was often seen as a shady character and ladies man, but reportedly adored his three children and treated them as best as he could. However, when his son Frank Sinatra Junior turned 19, the dangers of living in a famous family became apparent.
Today marks the 46th anniversary of Sinatra’s marriage to his last wife Barbara Marx, and although he was known for his playboy lifestyle, he only ever had children with one woman: Nancy Barbato.
Sinatra was seen as a shady character by many, which meant few were surprised when it was revealed that the FBI had thousands of pages of reports tracking his movements over the years.
These reports would prove incredibly important when 19-year-old Junior was kidnapped in December of 1963.
Three amateur criminals were hoping for a big payout in response to the kidnapping of Junior.
Junior had just broken into the music industry, bearing the heavy burden of expectation due to his surname, and got a performing gig at a club in Lake Tahoe.
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He was resting in his dressing room at the club with a friend when one of the offenders entered, pretending to be delivering a package.
The friend was swiftly bound and Junior was blindfolded and thrown into the back of their waiting car.
Junior’s friend informed authorities as soon as he could wriggle free of his restraints.
Soon the terrified father was having to go through negotiations with the FBI regarding the ransom demands for his son.
The FBI recommended Sinatra pay the money and allow them to track it to find the kidnappers.
The kidnappers were asking for $240,000 (£202,000) in ransom, which when adjusted for inflation would be over $2million (£1.68million) today.
They also demanded that all contact with Sinatra would be over payphone to avoid being caught.
However, few multimillionaires carry change on them, and Sinatra was unfortunately not one of them.
During one call organising the safe return of his son with the criminals, Sinatra ran out of cash and was faced with the possibility that not having change on him may have dire consequences.
While Sinatra Junior arrived back home after his three day ordeal unscathed and the kidnappers were convicted, the incident was still harrowing for the elder Sinatra.
Sinatra Junior noted it was a wake-up call for him, saying: “It was a painful reminder of reality for a 19-year-old. Being part of a famous family is the reality.”
Sinatra died of a severe heart attack in 1998, and had a few more peculiar items buried with him.
This included a bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey, a pack of Camel cigarettes and a Zippo lighter.
Sinatra was known to refer to Jack Daniel’s as “nectar of the gods” and the fact that he was buried with it has since been used to the manufacturers advantage.
Jack Daniel’s created a premium whiskey in honour of the Oscar winner, and granted him posthumous celebrity endorsement.
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