It's hard to imagine that the world might never have known Frank Sinatra nor been seduced, charmed and entertained by his beautiful music if it hadn't been for the pity and compassion of an Italian woman in 1915. When the midwives could not help Dolly deliver her only child, they called a doctor who used forceps to rip the inert child from her womb. The baby's ear torn and bleeding, he was cast aside as the doctor concentrated on saving the life of the mother. One of the neighborhood women picked up the still child and discovered he was alive. Frank's life, which began in turmoil, continued to be filled with conflict, making him one of the world's most controversial celebrities. He was loved and loathed, adored and disdained. Frank never escaped the influence Dolly had over him. She "alternately coddled and abused" him according to his biographer who claims that Frank's ambivalence about women can be traced to Frank's childhood. Frank, who cavorted with mobsters and the most influential people in entertainment and politics once said that the only people he was afraid of were his mother and Tommy Dorsey.
This fascinating account of the man who became known as "The Voice" covers his life from his birth in 1915 to his winning of an Academy Award for his role in From Here To Eternity in 1954. Although Frank admits to sleeping with hundreds of women, his first wife Nancy and second wife, Ava Gardner were supposedly the only true loves of his early life. He remained friendly to Nancy and she to him despite his well-documented adulterous behavior. His mother Dolly provided the earliest feminine influence on him, being regarded by some as not unlike a Mafia Don. In fact, it was suggested that her training caused Frank to "carry with him his own inner Godfather."
Kaplan's account of the early life of this musical phenomenon's early life is astounding in its scope. His research provides the most intimate details of Frank's upbringing and career, along with the headline news and tabloid coverage of the star's turbulent existence. His colleagues , agents, friends, relatives, former lovers and others are quoted liberally in the book and their assessments paint a picture of a man driven by ambition and carnal desires, but one who was a true musical genius and an unconventional family man. Quotes from daughter Nancy's book show that she took a revisionist approach when examining her relationship with her father. But even those inclusions by Kaplan serve to give an authentic portrayal of a man who was often seen as a demon by others. While his personal habits and behaviors probably would not win him any awards, his musical contribution, "The Voice" leaves an undeniable mark on modern music. Readers can only hope that Kaplan will create another remarkable book about the second half of Frank Sinatra's life.
Frank: The Voice by James Kaplan
Read by Rob Shapiro
Random House Audio, unabridged: 22.5 hours on 18 CDs