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Weekend Chat

It's a Crooners' Holiday

A 1957 TV special with Sinatra and Crosby has been remastered for new screenings.

November 29, 2001|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A few years ago, the Museum of Television & Radio scored a huge success with its screening of a rare concert by the Rat Pack: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. For the holidays, the museum will be screening "The Frank Sinatra Show: Happy Holidays With Bing and Frank," a newly discovered, unaired, digitally remastered color print of a 1957 ABC holiday special.

Sinatra made his directorial debut with this 28-minute holiday special; it was broadcast in black and white on ABC, which did not have color facilities at the time. He made a 35-millimeter film print for possible theatrical release, but it remained in the archives until it was discovered this year by the legend's elder daughter, Nancy.

Sinatra conceived the special as a trip through two eras: Victorian England and the hip swinging '50s. Bing Crosby drops by Sinatra's bachelor pad, where the two imbibe some punch and sing "Jingle Bells." They soon join carolers, and the action moves--without explanation--to a square in a 19th century English village. After performing such traditional songs as "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," Sinatra and Crosby return home for more yuletide tunes, including "White Christmas," and share Christmas dinner and a bit more punch.

FOR THE RECORD
Los Angeles Times Friday November 30, 2001 Home Edition Part A Part A Page 2 A2 Desk 2 inches; 55 words Type of Material: Correction
Sinatra screening--An article in Thursday's Calendar Weekend about showings of "The Frank Sinatra Show: Happy Holidays With Bing and Frank" at the Museum of Television & Radio in Beverly Hills omitted the time and price of a special screening Dec. 10 that will be introduced by Tina and Nancy Sinatra. The time is 6:30 p.m., and the price is $10 for general admission and free for museum members.

"Happy Holidays With Bing and Frank" will screen through Jan. 6 at the museum. On Dec. 10, daughters Nancy and Tina Sinatra will introduce the screening and participate in a question-and-answer session.

Tina Sinatra, 53, who produced "Sinatra," the acclaimed CBS miniseries about her late father, recently talked about "Happy Holidays With Bing and Frank."

Question: You haven't seen the special?

Answer: I thought it would be fun [to wait until Dec. 10]. There are so few surprises in the world that are pleasant.

Q: Where did your sister Nancy find this version of the special?

A: This is one of the little treasures my sister found where we store our films and tapes. He was very cognizant of the future. He said if you don't keep a good record for yourself, no one else will.

Q: This special marks the directing debut of your father?

A: Supposedly it was his first, but he was always directing.

Q: The family must be excited with the screening of the special at the museum.

A: Very. I think people will enjoy this. I think it's good for the soul and the spirit right now. I really can't wait to see it.

Q: What type of relationship did your father have with Bing Crosby?

A: It was kind of a protege-mentor, to tell you the truth, because my father revered him. I think [my father's] renown was inching forward in '39, and he had met Bing before that, maybe '38-ish. They knew each other through life. I must tell you I never remember seeing them together in the same room. We knew [Bing's] children, we knew [his first wife] Dixie, but Bing was not around in the house when we would visit. We all lived in Holmby Hills. I remember Dad being with Bing's children, but I never remember Bing with Dad and his family. My father just adored him and revered him and respected him and his talent.

Q: They worked so well together.

A: They did work well together, but also they blended in some magical place together, not just creatively and theatrically, but personally. But then, as all things happen, they kind of drifted apart....They weren't professional dancers, but yet they could both dance. I think Bing was more of a dancer than Dad, and they would have a ball. My dad always talked about doing [movie] musicals, and dancing was the part, a lot of work but great fun.

Q: Do you have a favorite Christmas song your dad performed?

A: I guess "I'll Be Home for Christmas" really gets me. At least it does right now. But I like all Christmas songs, so I am sort of an easy audience. I love the traditionals and the classics.

Q: Your father has been dead more than 3those years, but his spirit lives in music, movies and TV.

A: This is all he talked about in the months prior to his death--"What ever you do, just remember ... that if I am not rediscovered, I will be forgotten." He wasn't worried he'd be forgotten, just always felt that his success spanning almost seven decades had to do with the next generation picking him up. I think he is so much Americana and so part of the 20th century. I must say, on [Sept.] 11th I felt for the first time very distant from him. My friend says, "I think it's because you really do feel you have moved away from that century now." I guess that is what it is.

"The Frank Sinatra Show: Happy Holidays With Bing and Frank" screens Nov. 29-Jan. 6 at the Museum of Television & Radio, 465 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills. Screenings are Wednesdays through Sundays at 2 p.m. and Thursdays at 6 p.m. Nancy and Tina Sinatra will appear at the screening on Dec. 10. Admission is free. Call (310) 786-1000 or go to www.mtr.org.

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