The Frank Sinatra
Show

1950-1952

Frank Sinatra Specials
(1965-1995)

By Jim Davidson
Posted 10/15/2006



A Man and his Music


A Man and his Music, Part II


A Man and his Music +Ella +Jobim


Ol' Blue Eyes is Back

 

The sixties were something of a mixed bag for Frank Sinatra. The decade began with the founding of his own record company, Reprise, prompting disc jockey William B. Willams to dub him the "Chairman of the Board." Sinatra's new business venture was an unqualified success, yielding his biggest hit in eleven years, "Strangers in the Night," as well as number one hits for his friend Dean Martin ("Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime") and daughter Nancy ("These Boots Are Made For Walkin'").

On television, as well, Sinatra saw his greatest success in the 1960s, starting with A Man and his Music in the middle of the decade. Winning both Emmy and Peabody awards, it launched an annual series of specials that were well received by critics and fans alike.

But the sixties were also a time of mid-life crisis for Sinatra. With his hair thinning, he had taken to wearing toupees. (He's said to have had a large collection of them.) More importantly, the music scene was changing dramatically, and the Chairman, who turned 50 in 1965, hadn't really kept up. His deep hatred of long hair, hippies, drugs, and rock 'n' roll (and his undiplomatic comments regarding them) did little to endear him to the new generation of young music fans, and many saw him as a relic of a bygone era.

Perhaps in part to prove his continued relevance, Sinatra entered into an ill-fated marriage to actress Mia Farrow, who at age 20, was younger than his daughter Nancy. The effort carried over into Sinatra's TV specials, where he began to incorporate songs like "Ode to Billy Joe" and "Little Green Apples" into the set list. In the 1968 special, he even went so far as to don a nehru jacket and love beads! But rather than proving his relevance, Sinatra's attempts to appear youthful were all too often simply embarrassing.

Making matters worse, the years of smoking and drinking had taken a toll on Sinatra's voice. He now had to struggle to hit those high notes or to hold a tone, as he had done so impressively in his youth. By the end of the sixties, younger fans, unfamiliar with his earlier work, began to wonder what all the fuss was about.

There were more hits, like 1969's My Way and 1980's Theme From New York, New York, but they were fewer and farther between. Most of Sinatra's TV work during this period was mediocre, though he occasionally rose to the occasion, as in the 1982 Concert for the Americas. Many of the latter-day specials, while entertaining, were little more than celebrations of his career.

Sinatra mellowed considerably after marrying Barbara Marx (former wife of Zeppo Marx) in 1976, though he still kept an edge. He was now the elder statesman of pop music, and many younger musicians began to discover him and found something to admire. As Bono of U2 admitted, "Rock 'n' roll people love Frank Sinatra because Frank Sinatra has got what we want: swagger and attitude."

When Sinatra died on May 14, 1998 at the age of 82, it was almost as if he wasn't done yet. His gravestone inscription read "The best is yet to come."

A Piece of Shit

"Strangers in the Night" was one of Frank Sinatra's biggest sucesses, hitting number one on the Billboard charts the week of July 2, 1966. But despite its popularity, Sinatra despised the song, calling it "a piece of shit" and "the worst fucking song I ever heard." Critics concurred, with one of them deriding the "doo-be-doo-be-doo" passage as "bad scatting…as if Alistair Cooke were talking jive."

It's interesting to note that, though it was his biggest hit in eleven years, Sinatra never included "Strangers" in any of his late 1960s specials.

The Specials

Sources: TV Guide (San Francisco Edition) TV listings and articles, NY Times TV listings, Frank Sinatra: An American Legend by Nancy Sinatra (1995), The Sinatra Treasures by Charles Pignone (2004), Television Specials 1939-1993 by Vincent Terrace (1995), Library of Congress - The Guide to Jazz in Film Bibliography, and the shows themselves.

This list includes all of the U.S. TV musical/variety specials hosted or headlined by Frank Sinatra. Not included are regular series like Club Oasis (1958) and The Hollywood Palace (1965) that he guest hosted, awards shows he hosted like the Emmys or Oscars, or foreign musicals like the Royal Festival Hall (1971) and Budokan (1985) specials that were never telecast in the U.S. Running times include commercials.

Special
#
Network
Airdate
Cast
001
NBC
11/24/1965
Wed
9:00 pm
60 min

"A Man and his Music"
Musical Directors: Nelson Riddle, Gordon Jenkins; Music Coordinators: Sonny Burke, Bill Miller; Producer-Director: Dwight Hemion; Writers: Frank Peppiatt, John Aylesworth and Sheldon Keller
Note: Accompanied by Nelson Riddle, Frank sings "I've Got You Under My Skin," "Without A Song," "Don't Worry 'Bout Me," "I Get A Kick Out Of You," "Nancy," "My Kind Of Town," "Come Fly With Me," "The Lady Is A Tramp," "I've Got The World On A String," "Witchcraft," "You Make Me Feel So Young," and "Angel Eyes"/"Put Your Dreams Away." He also does a set with Gordon Jenkins consisting of "It Was A Very Good Year," "Young At Heart," "The Girl Next Door," "Last Night When We Were Young," and "This Is All I Ask." This TV special was something of a comeback for Sinatra, being his first in five years, winning two Emmys (Dwight Hemion for production and Lon Stucky for lighting) and a Peabody Award. Taped November 15-17, 1965.
Buy this special

002
CBS
12/7/1966
Wed
9:00 pm
60 min

"A Man and his Music, Part II"
Guest: Nancy Sinatra
Musical Directors: Nelson Riddle, Gordon Jenkins; Music Coordinators: Sonny Burke, Bill Miller, Irving Weiss; Producer-Director: Dwight Hemion; Writer: Sheldon Keller, Glenn Wheaton; Announcer: Ed McMahon
Note: Frank sings "Fly Me to the Moon," "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World," "Moonlight in Vermont," "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You," "Luck Be a Lady," "That's Life," "Granada," "My Kind of Town," "Angel Eyes"/"Put Your Dreams Away," and a medley of "Just One of Those Things," "My Heart Stood Still," "But Beautiful," and "When Your Lover Has Gone." Nancy sings "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" and "On Broadway." Together they sing "Yes Sir That's My Baby" and a medley of "Downtown" and "These Boots Were Made for Walkin'." This show won an Emmy for audio engineering (Bill Cole). Taped June 5-6, 1966 at NBC studios in Burbank, California.
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003
NBC
11/13/1967
Mon
9:00 pm
60 min
"A Man and his Music +Ella +Jobim"
Guests: Ella Fitzgerald, Antonio Carlos Jobim
Musical Director: Nelson Riddle; Music Supervisors: Sonny Burke, Jimmy Bowen, Irving Weiss, Bill Miller; Producer: Robert Scheerer; Director: Michael Pfleghar; Writer: Sheldon Keller
Note: Frank sings "Day In Day Out," "Get Me To The Church On Time," "What Now My Love?," "Ol' Man River," "All I Need Is the Girl," and "Angel Eyes"/"Put Your Dreams Away." Ella sings "Body & Soul" and "It's Alright With Me." Frank joins Ella for "How High The Moon," "Up Up & Away," "Look Out for Jimmy Valentine," "Theme to Tony Rome," "Goody Goody," "Don't Cry Joe," "Ode to Billie Joe," and "Goin' Out of My Head." With Jobim, he sings "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars," "Change Partners," "I Concentrate on You," and "The Girl from Ipanema." Together, Frank and Ella sing "The Song is You," "They Can't Take That Away from Me," "Stompin' at the Savoy," "At Long Last Love" (Frank only), "Don't Be That Way" (Ella only) and then finish with a tour-de-force on "The Lady Is A Tramp." Taped October 1-3, 1967. Perhaps due to the inclusion of Ella Fitzgerald, this is one of Frank's jazziest performances, and many fans rank it as the best of his late 1960s specials.
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004
CBS
11/25/1968
Mon
9:00 pm
60 min
"Francis Albert Sinatra Does His Thing"
Guests: Diahann Carroll, The 5th Dimension
Musical Director: Don Costa; Music Supervisor: Sonny Burke; Music Coordinators: Irving Weiss, Bill Miller; Choral Director: Nancy Adams; Producers-Writers: Saul Ilson, Ernest Chambers; Director: Clark Jones
Note: This special finds Sinatra trying really hard to prove how hip and contemporary he is. He sings "Hello Young Lovers," "Baubles Bangles and Beads," "Cycles," "Nice and Easy," "[How Little It Matters] How Little We Know," "Lost in the Stars," "Angel Eyes"/"Put Your Dreams Away," and a medley of "Glad to Be Unhappy," "Here's That Rainy Day," "It Never Entered My Mind," and "Gone with the Wind." Diahann does "[It's the] Music That Makes Me Dance," "Where Am I Going," and with Frank, a medley of "Diane," "Deep River," "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child," "Lonesome Road," "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen," and "Amen." The 5th Dimension sing "It's a Great Life," "Stoned Soul Picnic," and with Frank making it the 6th Dimension, "Sweet Blindness." Celebrated jazz bassist Ray Brown can be seen in the orchestra. Shortly before he was to go on, Frank was informed that his divorce from Mia Farrow had become final. Too upset to continue, he decided to cancel the show. What finally aired on CBS was a videotape of the dress rehearsal, recorded August 16, 1968.
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005
CBS
11/5/1969
Wed
9:00 pm
60 min

"Sinatra"
Musical Director: Don Costa; Music Supervisor: Sonny Burke; Music Coordinators: Irving Weiss, Bill Miller; Executive Producer: Frank Sinatra; Producer:
Carolyn Raskin; Director: Tim Kiley; Writer: Sheldon Keller
Note: Bouncing back from the previous ill-advised outing, Frank dispenses with the guest stars and proves himself in fine form, singing "For Once in My Life," "Please Be Kind," "My Way," "I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night," "You're Sensational," "All the Way," "The Tender Trap," "Little Green Apples," "Out Beyond the Window," "A Man Alone," "Didn't We," "Forget to Remember," "Fly Me to the Moon," "Street of Dreams," "Love's Been Good To Me," "Goin' Out of My Head," and "My Kind of Town." In between songs, Frank does a fair impression of a stand-up comic and takes a whimsical look at his movie career. Once again bassist Ray Brown is seen in the orchestra. Taped August 30-31, 1969.
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006
NBC
11/18/1973
Sun
8:30 pm
60 min

"Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back"
Guest: Gene Kelly
Musical Directors: Gordon Jenkins, Don Costa; Musical Coordinators: Irving Weiss, Bill Miller; Producer: Howard W. Koch; Director: Marty Pasetta; Writer: Fred Ebb; Special Musical Material: Fred Ebb, John Kander; Choreographer: Hugh Lambert
Note: Frank returns to the scene after a brief retirement, singing "You Will Be My Music," "I Get a Kick Out of You," "Street of Dreams," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "I've Got the World on a String," "Let Me Try Again," "Send in the Clowns," and a medley of "Last Night When We Were Young," "Violets for Your Furs," and "Here's That Rainy Day." Following clips from their old movies, Frank and Gene sing and dance to "We Can't Do That Anymore," interspersed with songs from those movies. Then Frank sings "Nice and Easy" while Gene dances. Such luminaries as Fred Astaire, Lucille Ball, and Milton Berle can be spotted in the audience. Taped September 30, 1973 at Paramount Studios.
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007
ABC
10/13/1974
Sun
9:00 pm
60 min
"The Main Event"
Musical Director: Don Costa conducting Woody Herman's Thundering Herd; Executive Producer: Jerry Weintraub; Producer: Roone Arledge; Director: Bill Carruthers; Emcee: Howard Cosell
Note: In this one man show airing live from Madison Square Garden, Frank sings "The Lady Is a Tramp," "I Get a Kick Out of You," "Let Me Try Again (Laisse Moi le Temps)," "Autumn in New York," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "Bad Bad Leroy Brown," "Angel Eyes," "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," "The House I Live In," "My Kind of Town," and "My Way." Among the celebrities in the audience are Rex Harrison, Carol Channing, Walter Cronkhite, Robert Redford, drummer Buddy Rich, New York City Mayor John Lindsay, and TV talk show host Mike Douglas.
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008
ABC
4/21/1977
Thu
10:00 pm
60 min
"Sinatra and Friends"
Guests: Tony Bennett, Natalie Cole, John Denver, Loretta Lynn, Dean Martin, Robert Merrill, Leslie Uggams
Producer-Writers: Paul W. Keyes, Marc London; Director: Bill Davis
Note: The entire cast opens the program with "Where or When" and closes it with "Everybody Ought To Be In Love." By himself, Frank sings "I’ve Got You Under My Skin," "Night and Day," and "Put Your Dreams Away." He duets with Natalie Cole ("I Get a Kick Out of You"), Dean Martin and Robert Merrill ("The Oldest Established Floating Crap Game"), Loretta Lynn ("All or Nothing At All"), Tony Bennett ("My Kind of Town"), Leslie Uggams ("The Lady Is a Tramp"), and John Denver ("September Song"). Solo numbers by the guest stars are "I’ve Got Love On My Mind" (Natalie Cole), "If I Were a Rich Man" (Robert Merrill), "She’s Got You" (Loretta Lynn), "One" (Tony Bennett), "I Honestly Love You" (Leslie Uggams), and "My Sweet Lady" (John Denver). Taped April 6-7, 1977.
009
NBC
1/3/1980
Thu
9:00 pm
120 min

"Sinatra: The First 40 Years"
Guests: Paul Anka, Lucille Ball, Tony Bennett, Milton Berle, Charlie Callas, Lillian Carter, Sammy Davis Jr., Glenn Ford, Cary Grant, Harry James, Gene Kelly, Rich Little, Dean Martin, Robert Merrill, Don Rickles, Frank Sinatra Jr., Nancy Sinatra, Tina Sinatra, Red Skelton, Dionne Warwick, Orson Welles, disc jockey William B. Williams, Flip Wilson
Musical Director: Don Costa conducting the Caesar's Palace Orchestra; Producer-Writer: Paul W. Keyes; Director: Clark Jones
Note: A gaggle of celebrities pay tribute to the Chairman of the Board on his 64th birthday and 40th year in show business. Songs: "My Way" (Paul Anka), "I Wanna Be Around" (Tony Bennett), "The Lady Is A Tramp" (Sammy Davis Jr.), "Two O'Clock Jump" (Harry James), a medley of Sinatra classics (Robert Merrill, Nancy Sinatra, Frank Sinatra Jr.). To top things off, the honoree himself sings "Theme From New York, New York," "It Was a Very Good Year," "The Best Is Yet To Come," and "I've Got the World on a String." Taped December 12, 1979 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, this show won an Emmy for sound mixing (Bruce Burns and Jerry Clemans).

010
NBC
11/22/1981
Sun
10:00 pm
60 min

"The Man and his Music"
Guests: Count Basie and his Orchestra
Musical Director: Don Costa
; Musical Coordinator: Sarge Weiss, Producer-Writer: Paul W. Keyes; Director: Clark Jones
Note: With Don Costa and orchestra, Frank sings "Nice And Easy," "The One I Love Belongs To Somebody Else," "I Loved Her," "At Long Last Love," "Something," "Monday Morning Quarterback," "(We Had a) Good Thing Going," "Say Hello" and "Thanks For The Memory." Vincent Falcone Jr. conducts the orchestra on "Theme From New York, New York." With Basie and his band, Frank performs "Pennies From Heaven" and "The Best Is Yet To Come." Guitarist Tony Mottola and combo accompany Frank on "The Girl From Ipanema" and "I Get A Kick Out Of You." Taped October 28-29, 1981 at NBC Studios in Burbank, California.
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011
Showtime
11/11/1982
Thu
8:00 pm
90 min
"Concert for the Americas"
Musical Director: Vincent Falcone Jr. conducting the Buddy Rich Orchestra; Producers: George Huncher, Jerry Harrison; Director: Walter C. Miller; Writer: Gary Belkin
Note: In what is considered one of the finest of Sinatra's later performances, Frank sings "I've Got The World On A String," "I Get A Kick Out Of You," "Come Rain Or Come Shine," "When Your Lover Has Gone," "The Lady Is A Tramp," "The House I Live In," "Searching," "My Kind Of Town," "Something," "The Best Is Yet To Come," "Strangers in The Night," "All Or Nothing At All," "The Gal That Got Away"/"It Never Entered My Mind," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "Send In The Clowns" (with Tony Mottola on guitar), and "I Won't Dance"/"Theme From New York, New York." Drummer Buddy Rich (who like Frank was an alumnus of Tommy Dorsey's early 1940s band) is featured on the "Jet Song" from West Side Story. Taped August 20, 1982 at the Altos de Chavon Amphitheatre in the Dominican Republic.
012
Showtime
5/20/1989
Sat
10:00 pm
90 min

"Frank, Liza and Sammy: The Ultimate Event"
Stars: Frank Sinatra, Liza Minelli, Sammy Davis Jr.
Musical Directors: Morty Stevens, Bill LaVorgna, Frank Sinatra Jr.
Note: Sammy opens with "With a Song In My Heart," "Candy Man," "What Kind of Fool Am I?," "Music of the Night," and "Bad." Liza follows with "All That Jazz," "Sailor Boys," "Ring Them Bells," "Mon Amour," and "Cabaret." Then Frank sings "Where Or When," "For Once In My Life," "Mack The Knife," "One For My Baby," and "My Way." The trio teams up for "Style," "Witchcraft," "Liza (with a Z)," "Talk to the Animals," "All Or Nothing At All," "Money," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "Maybe This Time," "All the Way," "Birth of the Blues," "The Lady is a Tramp," "The World Goes Round," and "Theme From New York, New York." Taped November 30 to December 4, 1988 at the Fox Theater in Detroit.

013
CBS
12/16/1990
Sun
9:00 pm
120 min
"Sinatra 75: The Best Is Yet To Come"
Guests: Tony Bennett, Rosemay Clooney, Harry Connick Jr., Tony Danza, Ella Fitzgerald, Eydie Gorme, Quincy Jones, Gene Kelly, Steve Lawrence, Sophia Loren, Shirley MacLaine, Roger Moore, Paul Newman, Tom Selleck, Jo Stafford, Barbra Streisand, Robert Wagner, and many others
Musical Directors: Frank Sinatra Jr., Jack Feierman, Henry Mancini; Executive Producers: George Schlatter, Tina Sinatra; Producers: Donn Hoyer, Gary Necessary, George Schlatter; Director: Jeff Margolis; Writers: Buz Kohan, George Schlatter
Note: This special combines biography/profile, archival footage, reminiscences by Sinatra (at his home in Rancho Mirage, California), remarks by others, an awards ceremony sponsored by the Society of Singers at the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton taped December 3, 1990, and concert footage from the Frank Sinatra Diamond Jubilee Tour performed December 12 at Meadowlands, New Jersey. At the Meadowlands concert, Frank sings "The Best Is Yet To Come," "The Summer Wind," "My Way," "For Once In My Life," "Theme From New York, New York" (with Liza Minnelli), "Where or When," and "When You're Smiling"/"Young at Heart"/"Zing! When the Strings of My Heart" (with Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme). At the Society of Singers Event, he and Ella Fitzgerald rip it up on "The Lady Is a Tramp."
014
CBS
11/25/1994
Fri
10:00 pm
60 min
"Sinatra Duets"
Guests: Charles Aznavour, Anita Baker, Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Jon Secada
Note: A companion to the albums "Duets" and "Duets II," this special features Sinatra teaming up with other famous singers, as well as archival footage of him with Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, and Peggy Lee.
015
ABC
12/14/1995
Thu
9:00 pm
120 min

"Sinatra: 80 Years My Way"
Guests: Bruce Springsteen, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Natalie Cole, Roseanne, Ray Charles, Dennis Franz, Tommy Lasorda, Salt-N-Pepa, Hootie and the Blowfish, Robert Wagner, Patti LaBelle, Bono, Tony Danza, Angela Lansbury, the Moulin Rouge Dancers, Tom Dreesen, Little Richard, Tom Selleck, Luis Miguel, Paul Reiser, Danny Aiello, Chazz Palminteri, Tony Bennett, Gregory Peck, Paula Abdul, Don Rickles, Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gorme, Vic Damone, Norm Crosby, Bob Dylan
, Seal
Producer: George Schlatter
Note: Paula Abdul dances to "Luck Be a Lady." Other numbers include "Angel Eyes" (Bruce Springsteen), "Restless Farewell" (Bob Dylan), "Ol' Man River" (Ray Charles), "Whatta Man" (Salt-N-Pepa), "They Can't Take That Away From Me" (Natalie Cole), "The Lady Is a Tramp" (Hootie and the Blowfish), "A Foggy Day" (Tony Bennett), "I've Got You Under My Skin" (Seal), "The House I Live In" (Patti LaBelle), and a medley of Frank's songs (Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gorme, and Vic Damone). In the finale, Frank joins the cast for the "Theme From New York, New York." This charity special, a tribute to Frank airing two days after his birthday, was the brainchild of Sinatra's wife Barbara. The entertainer's children Nancy, Tina, and Frank Jr. were not involved. The show won two Emmys - one for musical direction (Glen Roven) and one for technical direction (Ted Ashton, David Eastwood, John B. Field, Tom Geren, Larry Heider, David Levisohn, Bill Philbin, David Plakos, Hector Ramirez, Ron Sheldon, Thomas G. Tcimpidis, Kris Wilson, Keith Winikoff). Taped November 19, 1995 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.


The Frank Sinatra
Show

1950-1952

Copyright 2006 by Jim Davidson. All Rights Reserved.