It was the Winter of 1965. Gay Talese arrived in Los Angeles to write an article on Frank Sinatra. Talese was on assignment from Esquire Magazine, one of the “It” magazines of the day. Sinatra was approaching 50, and Esquire, along with numerous others, wanted to do a piece on the great one, the legendary Frank Sinatra. There was just one problem, Frank Sinatra had a Cold. Yesm the man was under the weather as they say, and refused to do the previously agreed upon interview for the piece that Talese would write. Like Sinatra, Talese was an Italian-American from New Jersey, and one of the top writers of the day, to Sinatra’s iconic status as not only a great singer, actor, and live showman, Sinatra was on his way to becoming the century’s greatest entertainer.
Unable to get an in person interview, Talese resorted to talking to as many people as he could, who were close to the man, in the forms of; friends, family, associates, workers, and the multitude of flunkies and hangers-on of the Sinatara. Talese also observed Sinatra when and wherever he could.
Talese gathered all the info he could, and wrote the article. He titled it “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold.” Esquire published the article in the April 1966 issue of Esquire Magazine, and the rest is magazine and writing history. Gay Talese’s piece on Sinatra, Frank Sinatra Has a Cold, was and still is highly exalted, and is considered one of the greatest articles ever written, if not still the greatest.
Yes, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold” is considered the pinnacle of what has been deemed New Journalism, and was a feat of epic proportions of immersive reporting of a non-participating subject (Sinatra). Gay Talese turned a very difficult assignment into journalistic gold.
In the article, Sinatra, the man who led The Rat Pack of Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and himself as the undisputed ring leader, Sinatra was The King of Las Vegas, a movie star and one of America’s greatest recording artists.
Talese describes Sinatra as a sublime singer, and a man of two distinct types, the masculine Jet-Set Swinger, and ancient Sicilian Padrone ( Boss ), and a man who commanded respect, settled scores, solved problems, and a man who righted wrongs. Talese wrote, “Sinatra with a cold is like Picasso without paint, and a Ferrari without fuel, only worst.”
Talese writes, Foe Frank Sinatra was now involved with many things involving many people - his own film company, his record company, his private airline, missile-parts frim, his real-estate holdings across the nation, his personal staff of seventy-five people - which are only a portion of the power he is and has come to represent. He seemed now to be also the embodiment of the fully emancipated male, perhaps the only one in America, the man who can do anything he wants, anything, can do it because he has money, the energy, and no apparent guilt. In an age when the very young seem to be taking over, protesting and picketing and demanding change, Frank Sinatra survives as a national phenomenon, one of the few prewar products to withstand the test of time. He is the Champ who made the big comeback, the man who had everything, lost it,then got it back, letting nothing stand in his way, doing what few men can do: he uprooted his life, left his family, broke with everything that was familiar, learning in the process that one way to hold a woman is not to hold her. Now he has the affection of Nancy amd Ava and Mia, the fine female produce of three generations, and still has the adoration of his children, the freedom of a bachelor, he does not feel old, he makes old men feel young, makes them think that if Frank Sinatra can do it, it can be done; not that they could do it, but it is still nice for other men to know, at fifty, that it can be done.” - Gay Talese - Esquire Magazine 1966 -
Wow! That says quite a lot. Yes, but the man (Frank Sinatra) and the myth, it’s all true, and so beautifully told by Gay Talese, and we love it. That is Sinatra in just so many words, “A Man’s Man,” Cool, suave, confident, powerful, talented, “One of a Kind,” there was only one Sinatra, never another quite like Frank, at this and that point in time (1966 to 2023), and as many have saide, “There will never be another Sinatra.”
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