Common wisdom tells us that the candle which burns the brightest also burns the fastest. Of course, there are also times when that same bright candle starts a fire that nothing can extinguish.
This is a pretty accurate thumbnail description of the career of Frank Sinatra. Ol' Blue Eyes was the only son of a Hoboken firefighter and the belle of the local Democratic Party. At the age of eight, his father took him into the local taverns where Frankie would stand on the bar and sing for tips. In 1935, Frank's mother convinced the Three Flashes to become The Hoboken Four and add her little boy to the act. The group was a hit on Major Bowes, and Frank found the confidence to strike out on his own.
After working a number of nightclubs, Sinatra signed a contract with Harry James, which James graciously let Frank out of when an opportunity to sing with Tommy Dorsey came up. The Dorsey Band was one of the hottest in the country, but relations between Frank and Tommy were troubled. There were rumors that Dorsey was coerced to let Frank out of his contract for a few thousand dollars by mobster Frank Giancana, an incident fictionalized in The Godfather.
Until the early 1940s, the music industry had concentrated on sales to adults who actually had money. With good looking Frank, the industry discovered the lucrative Bobby Soxer market. When Frank opened at the Paramount in New York at the end of 1942, Jack Benny said "I thought the goddamned building was going to cave in... all this for a fellow I never heard of."
During WWII, Frank Sinatra was 4F because of a perforated eardrum. But Frank Sinatra did make many appearances on AFRS programs, USO appearances and swapped guest spots with the Andrews Sisters. Frank's career began to stall after the War. In 1945, he starred in Anchors Aweigh with Gene Kelly, but he experienced hemorrhaging of the vocal cords when he appeared at the Copacabana in 1950. Now in his thirties, his appeal to the Bobby Sox crowd was waning as well, and his contracts were dropped by MCA and Columbia Records.
Two things came along to resuscitate Sinatra's career. One was a role in the film From Here To Eternity (1953) for which he won an Oscar and the other was Las Vegas. Vegas was the operational home for what would become known as the Rat Pack, a group of entertainers who largely defined cool through the 50's and 60's. 1953 was also the year that NBC radio began broadcasting Rocky Fortune with Frank starring as a wise-cracking, crime-solving temp worker.
During this period of career rebirth, Frank's other project with NBC was To Be Perfectly Frank. Presented as "Lots of music, couple a words", the 15 minute transcribed program featured a five piece combo to back Blue Eyes on at least number in each program. Most of the show was Frank taking control of "the ol' NBC turntable" and playing favorite songs, both his and other recording artists he admired such as Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Perry Como and others. The format, which worked very well for Sinatra, was very similar to the one used for the Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney Show.