You Say It's Your Birthday: Frank Sinatra

Today is the 82nd birthday of "Ol' Blue Eyes," "The Chairman of the Board," the

living legend -- Frank Sinatra. Born Francis Albert Sinatra in Hoboken, N.J.,

Sinatra went on to become the first pop idol, influencing

generations of singers with his unique phrasing and treatment of lyrics as

personal statements. The first break of his musical career came in 1937 on

"Major Bowes Original Amateur Hour" as part of the Hoboken Four. The group toured

very briefly before breaking up, and Sinatra then started taking poorly

paying gigs in small bars and taverns. Discovered by former Benny Goodman

trumpeter Harry James in a New Jersey tavern, Sinatra joined James' band in

1939 and was singing for Tommy Dorsey's band by 1940. It was during his

stint in Dorsey's band that Sinatra learned his trademark phrasing and

intonation by listening to Dorsey play. Sinatra started his solo career

in 1942, instantly finding fame as music's first, real pop-icon, causing

mass hysteria among the bobbysoxers of that era. Between 1943 and 1946,

Sinatra's singles hit the pop charts 17 times. It was during this same

period that his film career started, with Sinatra more often than not

playing himself.

By the '50s, the films and music Sinatra was known best for had fallen out

of fashion and he found himself without an agent, record label or movie-studio

contract. In 1953, he signed with Capitol and started to focus

on intricate swing-tunes and weepy saloon-ballads. Later that year, he

fought hard and won the non-singing role of Maggio in

From Here to Eternity, a performance that earned him an Oscar. He

would go on to give strong and memorable performances in such films as

The Man with the Golden Arm in 1955, Suddenly in 1954 and

The Manchurian Candidate in 1962. For the rest of his film career,

he concentrated on less serious roles, playing hard-boiled private eyes and

hamming it up with his Rat Pack buddies Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.

Some of Sinatra's most memorable songs,

"Young At Heart," "Witchcraft" and "All The Way," among others, were

released and charted high in the late '50s. But by the mid-1960s, he settled

into a series of long-running Las Vegas gigs playing his greatest hits. He

staged comeback after comeback throughout the years, but his biggest return

to the charts came in the form of 1993's Duets, a collection of his

songs performed with such artists as Bono, Luther Vandross and Aretha

Franklin. The collection was such a success that it was followed up by 1994's

Duets II, which featured performers such as Linda Ronstadt, Chrissie

Hynde and Willie Nelson. The tabloids have been dominated over the past

few years by reports of Sinatra's ailing health, but he -- as always -- does it

his way and ventures out occasionally to pick up lifetime achievement

awards.

Other birthdays: Connie Francis, 59; Dionne Warwick, 57; Dickey Betts

(Allman Brothers Band), 54; Rob Tyner (MC5), 53; Clive Bunker (Jethro

Tull), 51; Paul Rodgers (Free/Bad Company/Firm), 48; Shelia E., 40; Eric

Schenkman (Spin Doctors), 34; and Danny Boy (House Of Pain), 29.