How the Legendary Frank Sinatra Died

Frank Sinatra

Hulton Archive/Getty Images Frank Sinatra.

Frank Sinatra was a singer and actor who often associated himself with the members of the Rat Pack, a group which included contemporaries Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. The death of the man known to many as “Ol’ Blue Eyes” will be examined in Reelz’s special, “Autopsy: The Last Hours of Frank Sinatra.”

Among his celebrated discography are the songs, “New York, New York,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” and “My Way.” But, he also took on the screen with roles in “Ocean’s 11,” “The Manchurian Candidate” and his Oscar-winning turn as Angelo Maggio in “From Here to Eternity.”

His often publicized love-life included marriages with Ava Gardner, Mia Farrow and Barbara Sinatra. But it was his first marriage to Nancy Barbato that produced his kids, Tina, Nancy and Frank Sinatra Jr.

The star was also known for his rumored ties to the mob, with his former road manager Tony Oppedisano telling Page Six that he believed the rumors stemmed from anti-Italian American sentiments. He told the outlet, “He said, ‘It’s only because my name ends in a vowel.'”

Still, close ties to people like the Chicago mob boss, Sam Giancana, led to an investigation from the FBI, reported History.com. Sinatra maintained his innocence.

The star passed away in 1998. Here’s what you need to know:


Sinatra Died of a Heart Attack

Sinatra died on May 14, 1998, at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, according to The New York Times. He was 82.

While his publicist, Susan Reynolds, initially told the publication that he was surrounded by his wife and children at the time of his death, that seems to not have been the case. Sinatra’s fourth wife and his children did not have a good relationship and according to the Desert Sun, daughter Tina found out about her father’s passing over the phone “after watching the final episode of ‘Seinfeld.'”

As the Desert Sun quoted Tina’s memoir, “My Father’s Daugther,”  she wrote, “Barbara could have called us – she should have called! But she did not call.”

The singer known as “The Voice” battled various medical issues in his later years, which included “heart and breathing problems, high blood pressure, pneumonia, bladder cancer and dementia,” reported PBS. According to the outlet, his final words were, “I’m losing.”

PBS also reported that his death was mourned across the country with tributes such as the Empire State Building turning their lights blue for three days and the Las Vegas Strip dimming its lights where the “casinos stopped spinning for a minute in his honor.”

His star-studded funeral took place on May 20, 1998.


Sinatra Battled Mental Illness

Sinatra battled mental illness and suicide attempts.

As he assessed his own personality in 1963, The New York Times quoted Sinatra as saying, “Being an 18-karat manic-depressive and having lived a life of violent emotional contradictions, I have an over acute capacity for sadness as well as elation. Whatever else has been said about me personally is unimportant. When I sing, I believe, I’m honest.”

His mental health seemed to really struggle in the 1950s, according to PBS, when his career hit a lull. The publication reported he put his head on a stovetop in New York City with the gas on, later to be found by his manager sobbing on the floor.

PBS also reported Sinatra tried to commit suicide three times during his marriage to Gardner, which ran from 1951 until 1957. The outlet reported on one instance the star walked into their bedroom with a gun to his head, with Gardner eventually struggling to take the gun from him only for it to fire. Neither was hit.

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