Thursday, November 11, 2010

#226: Come Fly With Me

Four years after Frank Sinatra – that’s Mr Sinatra to you, punk – first toured Australia he decided to return. Did he miss the people? Nope. Did he miss the countryside? Nah. So what brought him here? Top use a phrase that he often used himself, broads, or, to be specific, one broad. Ava Gardner. Yes, one of the original well stacked women (as they were called back then – now they’re just big titted skanks and hos, but at least Gardner’s nay nays were real and not plastic).

Sinatra first met Ava Gardner sometime in 1944 and had a brief fling which had more of an effect upon him than it did her. She was fairly cool to him, probably because he had both a reputation and a reality that surrounded him – he was a notorious womaniser and he was married. Being married didn’t stop, or even slow, Sinatra down much and once he hit Hollywood proper he was spreading himself about like cheap margarine. They were off and on until 1949 when Sinatra had all but announced that he was getting a divorce. The only thing in his way was his wife, Nancy, who, as a catholic, saw divorce as being somewhat of a sin (not sure if it’s a mortal one or not though). Once Nancy discovered that Sinatra had shacked up (how crude!) with Gardner she relented and the pair announced their divorce, romantically enough on Valentines Day 1950. Repeat after me now - awwwwww…

Sinatra and Gardner married in 1951 off they went to fight happily ever after. There were several roadblocks to the marriage, the main one being that Sinatra was one his way down the totem pole and Gardner was on her way up, never a good combination, especially when someone had as much pride and self-belief as Sinatra did. Being married to Gardner didn’t stop Sinatra from putting himself out there, by all accounts he liked the hookers, and strangely enough it didn’t stop Gardner either. Ring the bell – round one, seconds away!

Sinatra’s career took an upturn when he finally snared a decent film role, that of Maggio in From Here To Eternity. Gardner had a fairly large say in snaring that part for Sinatra, but, well, revisionist history tells otherwise. Cue the horse head under the sheets thanks. The role saw Sinatra, deservedly win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar – a feat helped by the fact that when he concentrated and actually acted he was bloody great – and with that win under his belt the offers came flooding back in. And with the offers came money, fame and more women.

The cracks appeared, Gardner ran off with a bullfighter and Sinatra ran off, crying, into the arms of several broads, including Lana Turner, Judy Garland, Angie Dickenson, any number of cocktail waitresses and hookers, minor and major starlets and, famously, Lauren Bacall, to whom he proposed marriage only to back out when Bacall announced it to the world.

Divorce didn’t stop Sinatra and Gardner from seeing each other though, and their hook ups and resulting fights are the stuff of Hollywood legend. Despite having serious affairs with several broads Sinatra would still cry in his scotch on the rocks over Gardner and bore the pants off anyone within earshot about the one true love of his life. He then began to follow her around the world – indeed Sinatra might well have been the first ever celebrity celebrity stalker – and Gardner, in an effort to escape him accepted an offer to star in Stanley Kramer’s stunning film, On The Beach, a story of a post nuclear war world where Australia is one of the last outposts.

Melbourne in 1959 was anything but exciting for someone as exotic and glamorous as Gardner, and her famous quote, “If you were going to make a movie about the end of the world then Australia is the perfect location,” was repeated around the world. Working with Gregory Peck and Fred Astaire, along with Stanley Kramer, would have softened that blow though, and Gardner muddled through the movie, turning in a solid performance.

Sinatra, on the other hand, didn’t feature in the movie. He merely flew to Australia and began his stalking in earnest. Against this backdrop entered his old pal, Lee Gordon, who suggested a short tour designed to help Sinatra earn a few dollars and to keep him occupied while he was waiting for Gardner to come to her senses. Sinatra took the bait and on tour he went.

Sinatra and Gardner never rekindled their romance. He went back to America and she went off and re-married. Sinatra never forgot Gardner though, and it was reported that in her last years Sinatra was providing strong financial support to her, although he didn’t have to, living proof that time tempers the memories and, after a while, the good things of love far outweigh the bad things, and the romance remains when the fights have faded.

Unless your ex is a lunatic. Then you’re on your own. Now enjoy the delights that the 1959 Frank Sinatra Australian tour program has to offer.

And remember, 1959 was a very good year…


Anonymous said...

Stan Freberg toured Australia? Now there's a talent! These programmes are great, keep it up! ~Martin

Anonymous said...

Although Ava has been quoted as saying Melbourne was "the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world." She didn't. The purported quote was actually invented by journalist Neil Jillett, who was writing for the Sydney Morning Herald at the time.
Ref here :

Your Own Personal Jesus said...

You mean the media lied to us? Heaven's forbid!