For maximum enjoyment, plan on clicking through to Gay Talese’s celebrated April 1966 Esquire cover story “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold” a little later. After you have cued up your favorite Frank LP and poured a shot of your preferred quarter-to-three morning spirit.
In the meantime, enjoy Talese’s memories of the assignment, shared today with the Wall Street Journal’s Marc Myers. It was a typical struggle for Talese to try and get Sinatra to participate. And only years later did Talese receive the kind of feedback all feature writers hope for:
I never met Sinatra, but six months after he died in 1998, I was at Hofstra University in New York for a Sinatra conference and met his daughter, Tina. She said, “I liked your article.” I was dumbfounded.
I thanked her and asked, “Did your father ever read it?” She said, “He probably did, but he’d never say.” True or not, it still felt good.
Just like it feels good to know that once upon a time, people like Talese wrote about people like Sinatra. In a way that had nothing to do with a four-minute press junket slot:
I had seen something of this Sicilian side of Sinatra last summer at Jilly’s saloon in New York, which was the only other time I’d gotten a close view of him prior to this night in this California club. Jilly’s, which is on West 52nd Street in Manhattan, is where Sinatra drinks whenever he is in New York, and there is a special chair reserved for him in the back room against the wall that nobody else may use. When he is occupying it, seated behind a long table flanked by his closest New York friends — who include the saloonkeeper, Jilly Rizzo, and Jilly’s azure-haired wife, Honey, who is known as the “Blue Jew” — a rather strange ritualistic scene develops…
Previously on FishbowlNY:
FT Reporter Adds Andy Warhol to His Esquire Magazine Collection