YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

FRANK SINATRA: 1915-1998

Sinatra's Career Highlights

May 16, 1998

Born Dec. 12, 1915, in Hoboken, N.J., to Italian immigrant parents; inherits predilection for bel canto singing style.

1933: Pursues singing career after attending Bing Crosby concert; works locally in clubs and bars.

1935: Wins first prize on "Major Bowes Amateur Hour," resulting in concert and club dates with Major Bowes traveling show, plus occasional radio dates.

1939: Gains widespread attention from New York radio appearance; becomes big-band vocalist with Harry James.

1939: Marries Nancy Barbato, a plasterer's daughter from Jersey City; they have three children.

1940-42: Becomes singing sensation, especially with teenage girls dubbed "bobby-soxers," while working with Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

1942-47: In constant demand as a soloist, singing up to 100 songs daily on tight touring and recording schedule.

1947-52: Overexposure drains Sinatra's voice and popularity, and career enters noticeable decline; continues to record for Columbia Records but fails to match former success. By 1952, Sinatra is without a recording contract.

1951: During divorce, wife charges cruelty and testifies that her husband explained prolonged absences with "I was out with the boys." He marries actress Ava Gardner: marriage lasts two years.

1953: Reestablishes himself in public eye through nonsinging role in "From Here To Eternity" and wins best supporting actor Oscar; signs with Capitol Records, placing him in a more jazz-oriented context.

1953-1960: Makes a long series of best-selling recordings and again dominates popularity polls for male vocalists; acting career also thrives.

1960: After saying of rocker Elvis Presley in 1956, "his kind of music is deplorable, a rancid-smelling aphrodisiac," Sinatra sings with Elvis on TV special.

1961: Leaves Capitol and founds own record company and label, Reprise; records with musical greats Count Basie from 1962-66 and Duke Ellington in 1967.

1966: Makes comeback on pop music charts despite rock's British invasion when "Strangers in the Night" hits No. 1, followed by another No. 1, "Something Stupid" with daughter Nancy the next year.

1966: Marries then-21-year-old Mia Farrow; during divorce in 1968, she charges cruelty and incompatibility.

1970: Honored at Oscar ceremony with Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his acts of philanthropy; announces retirement in 1971, but, after two years off, returns with national and international tours, TV specials and recordings.

1976: Marries Barbara Marx, former wife of Zeppo Marx.

1983: Recipient of Kennedy Center Honor for life achievement.

1985: Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Ronald Reagan.

Late 1980s: Enjoys enormous success touring in concert with Sammy Davis Jr. and Liza Minnelli.

1993: Returns to Capitol Records and does "Duets" with such recording stars as Aretha Franklin, Carly Simon, Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett; "Duets II," released in 1994, includes artists such as Stevie Wonder, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Willie Nelson and Lena Horne.

1998: Dies of heart failure at age 82 on May 14 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Researched by TRACY THOMAS / Los Angeles Times

Sources: The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz Vol. 2; The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music Vol. 5

Los Angeles Times Articles