Major Frank Sinatra exhibition planned for 2015 centennial year

American singer and actor Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) during a 1953 recording session at Capitol Records in Hollywood.
American singer and actor Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) during a 1953 recording session at Capitol Records in Hollywood.
(M. Garrett / Getty Images)

The New York Library of the Performing Arts chose what would have been Frank Sinatra’s 99th birthday Friday to announce a major exhibition dedicated to the Chairman of the Board.

Curated by L.A.’s Grammy Museum, “Sinatra: An American Icon” is set to open in March, and is scheduled to travel to Los Angeles and other cities.

The exhibition is a collaboration with the Sinatra family and Frank Sinatra Enterprises and will include many items from the family’s personal collection, including concert and interview footage, letters, awards and other personal items along with film and music materials from the library.

It will focus on the 20th century’s premiere “saloon singer,” as Sinatra typically described himself, during the centennial of his birth in Hoboken, N.J., on Dec. 12, 1915. The show has been designated “the official exhibition of the 2015 Frank Sinatra Centennial,” and is scheduled to open March 4 and run through Sept. 4 at the performing arts library.


Pop & Hiss is still waiting to hear whether the show will include a noteworthy letter Sinatra wrote to The Times back in 1990 that has been circulating of late on the Internet. In it, Sinatra responded to a cover story on George Michael in which the former Wham! singer complained about the price of fame.

“I don’t understand a guy who lives ‘in hopes of reducing the strain of his celebrity status’,” Sinatra wrote at that time. “Here’s a kid who ‘wanted to be a pop star since I was about 7 years old.’ And now that he’s a smash performer and songwriter at 27 he wants to quit doing what tons of gifted youngsters all over the world would shoot grandma for -- just one crack at what he’s complaining about.”

“Come on George. Loosen up,” he continued. “Swing, man. Dust off those gossamer wings and fly yourself to the moon of your choice and be grateful to carry the baggage we’ve all had to carry since those lean nights of sleeping on buses and helping the driver unload the instruments.”

We’re also hoping there’s a photo of the famous sign--or perhaps even the sign itself--memorably posted over the doorbell of Sinatra’s Hollywood home.


Songwriter Jimmy Webb talked about it during a show in L.A. a few years ago, recalling his invitation to meet Sinatra and hopes of getting him to record some of the songs that had quickly made the long-haired young musician from Oklahoma one of the hottest songwriters in the world in the mid- and late-1960s.

As Webb walked up to the door, he thought twice about pushing the button as he read the sign: “You better have a damn good reason for ringing this bell.” He did, and eventually Sinatra would refer to him as “the wonderful kid Jimmy Webb.”

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