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Frank Sinatra Online
© 1998 by H.B. Koplowitz

Before punching out paparazzi became fashionable, there was Frank Sinatra. The Chairman of the Board died May 14, but his pugnacious spirit lives online, at the website of the Sinatra children, especially daughter Nancy, the one whose boots are made for walkin'.The philanthropic Sinatra also lives online, at the website of the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center near Palm Springs. And then there's the swingin' Sinatra, remembered at Rat Pack websites and sites devoted to the oxymoron of lounge culture.

The most remarkable Sinatra site is the children's website, "Sinatra Family Album" <www.sinatrafamily.com>, where daughter Nancy has been publishing "random memories," a detailed, intimate, first-person account of her father's death, beginning with the moment she received the news. The family album has many warm and fuzzy pictures of the Sinatra family -- Frank and Barbara; Frank's kids Nancy, Tina and Frank Jr.; their mom Nancy Sr.; their children and pets; even third wife Mia Farrow, but, understandably, not Ava Gardner, the "great love" he left their mother for.

The children own the rights to Sinatra's music, which is sold at the site, along with Sinatra collectibles. There's also a guest book with a backlog of 35,000 condolence messages emailed since his death. But much of the site is used to excoriate those deemed to be tarnishing the Sinatra legacy with irreverent movies about the Rat Pack or Frank Jr.'s kidnapping, bootleg Sinatra collectibles, and media reports of mob connections or fighting between Barbara and the children over the estate.

"It is difficult for people to preserve the integrity of their celebrity or civilian families when the keepers of the various flames are being wiped out by fire hoses held by some members of the Fourth Estate," one comment reads. "Richard Jewel's reputation was ruined, Frank's almost was and, let's not forget, the Princess of Wales and two other people died in a car which was being sandwiched between paparazzi vehicles."

The interests of Barbara Sinatra are represented by Sinatra's publicist, Susan Reynolds and "Sinatracenter" <www.sinatracenter.com>, the website for The Barbara Sinatra Children's Center. Founded in 1986 by Frank and his last wife Barbara to help abused children, the site has news and pictures of the center's glitzy fund-raisers, including the first annual Frank Sinatra Las Vegas Celebrity Golf Classic at the end of May, hosted by Barbara Sinatra and Wayne Newton.

Following the tournament there was a black-tie gala produced by Quincy Jones, which kicked off a week-long, city-wide tribute to the man who as much as anyone gave the town the image it has now ditched. The MGM Grand and Mirage were among the Disneyfied hotels that participated in the tribute to Sinatra, whose first headline engagement in Las Vegas was at the Desert Inn in 1951.

"The Rat Pack Homepage" <www.primenet.com/~drbmbay/index.html> salutes the swinging Sinatra and his Rat Pack pallies. Dedicated to when "Vegas was not a theme park, but a place of neon splendor with no other purpose but to drink, pick up chicks, and rob the casinos," it has links to fellow Rat Packers Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., et. al., and the Rat Pack movies, especially "Ocean's Eleven."

"Rick Apt's Sinatra Collectibles" <www.blue-eyes.com> sells Sinatrabilia, at least some of it unauthorized by the Sinatra family, and lets you send an email "Sinatragram." It has links to "a whole lot of groovy Frank related stuff out there on the web," including Sinatra's music and movies, essays and magazine articles, fan pages, and pages on related personalities like Bing Crosby, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Mercer and Humphrey Bogart.

There's also a link to the website for the "Sinatra Mailing List" <www.sinatralist.com>, an Internet discussion group on Sinatra and classic American pop music, and to "Frank E-mail" <www.clever.net/rich2000> which digitally translates emails into "Frankspeak." There's even a website to the Smithfield, North Carolina, Ava Gardner Museum <www.avagardner.org>, and to lounge scene websites with names like, "The Roots Of Lounge," "Vik Trola's Lounge of Self Indulgence," "The Women Of Exotica," and "Space Age Bachelor Pop Music."

There are, it seems, websites devoted to just about every Sinatra save one -- the shy, skinny kid from Hoboken, New Jersey, who swooned a generation of bobbysoxers and their boyfriends coming of age during World War II. The big band Frank of Harry James and Tommy Dorsey and the near riots at New York's Paramount Theatre in December 1942. Which is odd. Because the Rat Pack Frank may have been hipper, and the comeback Frank may have sung better. But before the Beatles, before Elvis, before "From Here to Eternity" and before Ava, there was Frank Sinatra. The most treasured Frank of them all.

© 1998 By H.B. Koplowitz, all rights reserved.

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