Frank Sinatra on TV

By Jim Davidson
Updated 10/15/2006


 

Some observers are obsessed with his sex life, some with his personal shortcomings, which were many. Others focus on his alleged mob connections. But more than anything, Frank Sinatra deserves to be remembered for his music.

Dubbed "The Voice," "Ol' Blue Eyes," "Chairman of the Board," Sinatra was the man who transformed the craft of pop singing into an art, revealing nuances, a level of meaning, and depth of emotion previously unknown. And like all great entertainers, he knew how to connect with his audience. As the singer himself explained, "I have an over acute capacity for sadness as well as elation. I know what the cat who wrote the song is trying to say. I've been there - and back. I guess the audience feels it along with me."

Familiar primarily through his records and films, Sinatra also created a significant body of work in television that is little known, even to some of his biggest fans. Partly because of its limited availability and partly due to the lack of respect afforded television in general, Sinatra's work in the medium hasn't been well-documented - and some of what exists is inaccurate.

Below, you'll find links to episode guides for each of Frank Sinatra's series and specials. As usual, I've tried to stick to contemporary sources and avoid questionable or unreliable ones.

While the audio and video quality of surviving prints of his early TV shows isn't very good, many of the performances are first rate. Contained in this body of work are some real gems, including renditions of many of his biggest hits and pairings with major stars like Elvis Presley, Jackie Gleason, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, and Sinatra's own daughter Nancy. Perhaps the greatest value of these performances is that they approximate what the singer's concert and night club act must have been like during his greatest period of the 1950s.

The Frank Sinatra
Show

1950-1952



The TV Sinatra

Duet performances from Sinatra's 1957-1960 TV shows were collected in a 2002 PBS special (featuring commentary by Nancy, Frank Jr., and Tina Sinatra) that's now available on both DVD (left) and CD (right). Another PBS special, called Vintage Sinatra, airing in 2003 and featuring the singer's solo performances, has yet to be released.

Other Sinatra Links

The Sinatra Family Website
Official site of the Sinatra family, with news about Frank, Nancy, Frank Jr., and Tina, along with a forum and chatroom.

Biography
The Wikipedia entry for Frank Sinatra.

Sinatra!: The Complete Guide
Lists and reviews of Sinatra records, videos, and books.

Frank Sinatra Sessionography
Every Sinatra recording session, with songs, band personnel, and dates.

Songs by Sinatra
Lists of Sinatra's songs, records, and radio shows, as well as full text of fan magazine articles.

The Sinatra Room
Dedicated to the music of Sinatra and the musicians who helped to create it.

Copyright 2006 by Jim Davidson. All Rights Reserved.