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Old Blue Eyes, Chairman of the Hoard

March 02, 2003|MICHAEL T. JARVIS

Judging from the evidence, Frank Sinatra was definitely the Rat Pack's biggest pack rat. Hundreds of items from Sinatra's mind-boggling accumulation of photos, awards, an honorary police badge, a "key to the city" of Hoboken, N.J., letters and personal effects are on loan from his daughters, Nancy and Tina Sinatra, for an exhibit at USC's David L. Wolper Center for the Study of the Documentary, which is in the Doheny Memorial Library. (Nancy Sinatra's daughter Angela Jennifer is a USC alumna.) "When we went to Tina's and Nancy's homes, they had rooms filled with boxes of memorabilia," says Steve Hanson, director of the Cinema-TV Library's Wolper Archives. "We had to make agonizing choices. This is so big you can only skim the surface." The legacy of Sinatra, who died in 1998, could fill the Getty Museum, he says. "It was more like uncovering Shakespeare. We realize what a complex person he was. I'd love to see a [permanent] building devoted to all Frank Sinatra memorabilia."

Old Blue Eyes wouldn't lack for illustrious company. A lecture hall in the Eileen L. Norris Cinema Theatre Complex that was named for Sinatra in November joined a long list of USC buildings named for celebrities, including the Steven Spielberg Music Scoring Stage; the George Lucas Instructional Building; the Johnny Carson Television Stage; the Harold Lloyd Motion Picture Sound Stage; and the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts. Below, seven of our favorite Sinatra objects.

1. Sinatra's fedora in a glass case, with a Sinatra doll wearing a trench coat and a miniature version of the hat, an ensemble known in its day as "The Sinatra Look."

2. A letter in print and Braille from blind pianist George Shearing, who calls himself "Old No Eyes."

3. Honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

4. Photo from 1984 graduation at Loyola Marymount, where Sinatra received an honorary doctorate in fine arts. Father Ernest Sweeney of the Society of Jesus is shown with Sinatra, who is in cap and gown and holding a cocktail glass.

5. Plaque from the National Cap and Hat Institute that reads: "Frank Sinatra, who has made the cloth hat a mark of high fashion and sartorial distinction."

6. Photos of buildings that marked his death: the Capitol Records building draped in black bunting; the Empire State Building lit in blue; a giant screen in Times Square with his name and photo.

7. In a separate display at the new Frank Sinatra lecture hall on campus: The Frank Sinatra Foundation Candle, in glass holder finished with an 18k gold image of Sinatra and his signature. The candle is perfumed with lavender, Sinatra's favorite scent. When the candle burns down, the holder could make a lovely cocktail glass.

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The Frank Sinatra exhibit is on display through March 30 at the David L. Wolper Center for the Study of the Documentary in the Doheny Memorial Library at USC; (213) 821-3096.

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