MY FATHER’S DAUGHTER
In honor of the 100th anniversary of Frank Sinatra’s birth, Simon & Schuster is proud to reissue MY FATHER’S DAUGHTER (Simon & Schuster; November 17, 2015; $16.00), the startling, compelling, yet affectionate portrait of an American entertainment legend by his youngest daughter, who writes about the man, his life, the accusations, and about the many people who surrounded him—wives, friends, lovers, users, and sycophants—from his Hoboken childhood through the notorious “Rat Pack,” and beyond.
Tina was always her father’s daughter. More than her siblings Frankie and Nancy, Tina possessed her father’s strong will, outspokenness, and fierce temperament. Perhaps more than anyone else in the world, Tina therefore understands the psychological motivations driving her father’s stellar career, as well as his failures in matters of the heart. His fourth marriage to Barbara Marx, in Tina’s view, split up the family and in turn contributed to needless pain and suffering in her father’s final years.
As Tina remembers, “It may be typical of young girls to place their fathers on a pedestal, but for me it was a visual reality.” Tina shares fond memories of her childhood, as she thrilled at watching her father perform for an adoring public. But she also goes beyond the spotlight, to reveal the paternal side of Frank that few people know – describing him as a kind and loving father, who taught his children to swim and to paint, played games like Candyland, and made birthdays and holidays special events. Tina also gives a sense of what it was like to grow up in Beverly Hills, where she played with the children of other celebrities, enjoyed visits to Walt Disney’s house for rides on his toy train set, went trick or treating at George and Gracie Burns’ house, and loved spending time with her father’s friends, “Uncle Dean” and “Uncle Sammy.”
As magical as it sounds, Tina’s happy childhood was tempered by the devastating effects of her parents’ divorce. Although Frank and Nancy Sinatra would split shortly after Tina’s birth, she reveals that her parents remained in love throughout their lives, occasionally talking of reconciling and even sharing romantic liaisons. Frank remained very much a part of his children’s lives, but it was not easy on Tina and her siblings. “Yes, we had a privileged childhood,” Tina confides, “but I would have traded it all for the all-American family life that I’d see each week on Father Knows Best.” While Tina would take joy in her father’s visits, they were inevitably followed by his leave-taking and extended absences, which took a painful toll on Tina and her siblings (Nancy would harbor sad beliefs that her parents would reunite, while Frankie began acting out, falling in with a bad crowd whose exploits would get him arrested). Remembering these moments, Tina says, she still feels the pain of being abandoned.
Years later, in therapy sessions occasionally attended by her father, Tina would at last come to terms with her deep-seated anger towards her parents. And as an adult, she would come to a deeper understanding of the forces driving her father’s love affairs and failed marriages. Contrary to what readers might suspect, Tina respected and admired Ava Gardner and Mia Farrow and understood exactly how and why these women appealed to her father, as well as why these passionate relationships were destined to self-destruct. “Dad’s third marriage was doomed by the same forces as his second one,” she explains. “The fact is, my father had an unresolved dilemma in the girl department. The vacant starlet type bored him. The woman who rang his bell would be high powered, independent, with a real life of her own – someone who would give him a run for his money. But the same qualities that sparked Dad’s interest would eventually drive him away. He’d want his vital professional woman to change her whole existence and stay tethered to his side.”
Frank’s conflicting desires and past failures would eventually result in his fourth marriage to Barbara Marx. At the time, the press often hammered Tina and her siblings to reveal conflicts with their stepmother. But Tina now shares her side of the story and her startling revelations about the marriage and Barbara’s manipulative actions. In Tina’s view, the marriage from the start was a trade-off, a bargain in which each knew what they were getting into – her father finally got a wife without career ambitions, who would remain a compliant companion as he grew older, while Barbara got wealth and the good life. It wasn’t long before there were reports of bitter arguments between the two, they were sharing separate bedrooms, and Frank was exploring a divorce. “There was a public marriage and a private marriage,” Tina writes, “and only a few of us knew how very different they were.”
Tina reports on the various ways, both legal and psychological, that Barbara tried to wield greater and greater control over Frank Sinatra and his assets, while dividing him from his family and friends. These maneuverings included recission of their prenuptial agreement, annulment of his first marriage to Tina’s mother, execution of a will which gave Barbara what she wanted, and the sale of his personal possessions for cash. Tina was also distraught to see her father continuing to perform in public, even though his health was clearly failing, because he was afraid that he needed to keep earning money to make sure everyone was taken care of. Tina goes on to describe how hard it was for her to watch her father’s mental and physical decline in his later years, a time when, ironically, she came to share a renewed closeness with him.
“In undertaking this book,” Tina writes, “it was never my intention to place my father on some cold marble pedestal. I wanted to remember him as he was. I had the best times of my life with him, and felt privileged to be his child.” Readers of MY FATHER’S DAUGHTER will discover just how successful Tina was in achieving this goal, portraying a fully fleshed out portrait of her father, now featuring a new foreword and afterword in which Tina describes how her father’s centennial celebration gives her a chance to reflect on the years since the first edition of the book was released in 2000. She welcomes new fans, and old, with a final chapter in her family’s story.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Tina Sinatra was the executive producer of Sinatra, an award-winning mini-series based on her father’s life that aired in 1992 on CBS. She founded the Frank Sinatra Foundation and is an active principal manager of Frank Sinatra Enterprises, which owns and administers the artist’s intellectual property rights. A lifelong animal welfare advocate, she lives in Los Angeles.
Jeff Coplon’s writing has appeared in The New Yorker, New York, The New York Times Magazine, and Rolling Stone among other publications. He is the co-author of a dozen memoirs, notably with Tina Sinatra, Sarah Ferguson (the Duchess of York), and Cher. He is the author of Gold Buckle, the definitive treatment of rodeo bull riding. He resides in Brooklyn.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
MY FATHER’S DAUGHTER: A Memoir
By Tina Sinatra
Published by Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: November 17, 2015
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