His road was long. Full of curves. With ups and downs. But whatever part of his career Frank Sinatra took, he had a stylish vehicle with him. Like this Ford Thunderbird. That was in 1955, when he had himself photographed with this gem by his friend, the Hollywood photographer Frank Worth. His right foot placed confidently on the bumper, his hands in his pockets, his hat casually tilted on his head, his gaze directed into the distance. In the next photo, he is leaning on the half-open driver’s door, fixing the camera. The hat, of course, is still perfectly tilted. His look says something like, “Jeez, kid, it’s good with photography now, let’s take off”. And Ol’ Blue Eyes is already sitting in the car, casting another glance back at the photographer, smiling – and we can hear it, the V8 bubbling impatiently away, finally releasing the 198 horses slumbering in this thunderbird onto the road.
And then it probably took off, off through the streets of Los Angeles. The story had begun with the Thunderbird after a first valley at the end of the 1940s – and the comeback thanks to the role of Private Angelo Maggio in “Damned for Eternity”. Sinatra won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor – despite all the rumours that the Mafia had helped with the casting. Nevertheless, Capitol Records in Los Angeles signed Sinatra and bought him the 1955 Ford Thunderbird with which Frank Worth photographed him.
Sinatra thanked them for their trust with, among other things, the album “Songs for Swingin’ Lovers”, which is still considered one of the most important recordings of the “Great American Songbook”. He was just as successful on the cinema screen as on the concert stages of Las Vegas. In the gambling metropolis, he was soon no longer alone, but became the “Pack Master” of the Rat Pack, the legendary artist collective consisting of Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford and Shirley MacLaine, who stirred up the Sands Hotel with their legendary stage shows between 1959 and 1966.
The Rat Pack’s trademark was not only their comedy and excesses, but also their attitude and elegant clothes, tailored in Los Angeles by Sy Devore, with which they defined the term coolness in a way that is still valid today. No less legendary were the visits to “La Dolce Vita”, the restaurant of his acting colleague George Raft. Then in 1971 came his (first) farewell to show business, from which he would retire again just two years later. The Voice continued to be a guest on the stages of the world, followed by world hits such as “New York, New York” in 1979 about the cosmopolitan city that never sleeps and in which he would like to wake up – although he had already been living in California since 1948, first in Palm Springs, later in the villa that is now for sale.
On 14 May 1998, Ol’Blue Eyes succumbed to a heart attack. In his honour, the lights in Las Vegas were switched off for three minutes. But The Voice lives on. In his songs. In pop music. In his incomparable style. And, who knows, maybe this guy in this sky-blue ’56 Thunderbird is the reincarnation of Frankie Boy. We, for one, wouldn’t mind that.