Frank Sinatra wasn't Joseph Stalin bad. But he was a jerk. An awful guy. Insanely arrogant, he treated women horribly - actually he treated everybody pretty badly. He was a bully, he slept with possibly thousands of women - he married Mia Farrow when he was 51 and she was 21. Ew. He liked to provoke fights and punch people (a lot easier to do when you travel with bodyguards - I mean, "friends").
The mafia stories - did he use "connections" to sever his contract with Tommy Dorsey? Did he use other connections to get his Academy Award-winning part in From Here to Eternity? Was he the model for Johnny Fontane in The Godfather films?
Sinatra was a creep. But also talented and he worked hard at his craft - music meant something to him and when he sings, you can hear that. After I read part one of James Kaplan's biography, Frank: The Voice, I bought a best of Sinatra CD and even though - duh - I knew he was a great singer, I became more of a fan. Listen to "I've Got the World on a String" or "Witchcraft." See what you think.
I've just finished Kaplan's sequel, Sinatra: The Chairman, and it was a good read in a sort of "National Enquirer" way. Juicy and filled with gossip, maybe a little too juicy and filled with gossip. But entertaining. And I liked reading about the business of recording music - Sinatra's work with Nelson Riddle was especially interesting.
It's a big fat book, over 900 pages, so I was surprised when it was 1971 and suddenly the book turns into a "Coda" where the last fifteen years of Sinatra's life are very condensed. Too rushed and unexplored.
So as a person - not so great. But as a singer, as an artist - fly me to the moon, Mr. S.