Born on June 8, 1940, in Jersey City, NJ; daughter of Frank (a singer and actor) and Nancy (Barbato) Sinatra; married Tommy Sands (a singer and actor), September 11, 1960 (divorced, 1965); married Hugh Lambert (a television producer and choreographer), December 12, 1970 (died August 18, 1985); children: (with Hugh Lambert) Angela Jennifer, Amanda. Addresses: Record company--Sanctuary Records Group, 389 Lexington Ave., 6th Fl., New York, NY 10017, phone: (212) 599-2757, fax: (212) 599-2747, website: http://www.sanctuaryrecords.com. Booking--Bruce Houghton, Skyline Music, phone: (603) 586-7171, fax: (603) 586-7068. Publicist--Thom De Lorenzo, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website--Nancy Sinatra Official Website: http://www.nancysinatra.com.
The daughter of the late Frank Sinatra, one of the most popular entertainers of the twentieth century, Nancy Sinatra has been famous since childhood. At the age of four, she inspired Phil Silvers and Jimmy Van Heusen to write a song about her, "Nancy (with the Laughing Face)," which became a top ten hit for her father in 1945. After acting in several teen films and enjoying moderate success in Europe as a recording artist in the early 1960s, Nancy Sinatra embarked on a musical path that would turn her into what many termed a pop princess. She recorded several hit tunes in the mid-to-late 1960s, including the pop classic "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," only to then recede into relative anonymity during the 1970s and 1980s as she raised her two children.
In 1995, while in her mid-fifties, Sinatra raised eyebrows posing nude for Playboy magazine, an event that preceded the release of a comeback album, One More Time, and a book about her father titled Frank Sinatra: An American Legend. Nearly ten years later, with yet another comeback album, Nancy Sinatra, the singer seemed to finally score the respect she had sought during her whole career. Featuring songs by Bono and the Edge of U2, Morrissey, and Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, Sinatra's self-titled album earned admiring reviews and revealed the lasting impact of her legacy on musicians of later generations.
Daddy's Little Girl
Sinatra was born on June 8, 1940, in Jersey City, New Jersey, around the time her father began singing with legendary swing-era bandleader Tommy Dorsey. Within a few years, Frank Sinatra was singing to large crowds of swooning female fans, and Nancy Sinatra had gained two siblings, Frank Jr. and Tina. Nancy expressed an interest in music and performance from an early age, studying dance, piano, acting, and voice. She made her professional debut in May of 1960, appearing on a television special starring her father and another wildly popular performer, Elvis Presley. Sinatra briefly attended the University of Southern California, but within a year of appearing on television with her father she had dropped out of college, married singer and actor Tommy Sands, and signed a recording contract with her father's record label, Reprise.
While some children of celebrities wish to distance themselves from their famous parents when pursuing a similar career path, Sinatra embraced her connections, made the most of them, and expressed great appreciation for her father's assistance. "I definitely had a leg up on other people, and I've always been grateful," she told Karen Heller of Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service in 1995. "I told my father, when he got his own record label, `Just give me a chance. I'm your kid. If I don't have a hit, I'll go away.'" Sinatra's early musical efforts failed to reach the charts in the United States, though they achieved some success overseas. Meanwhile she earned roles in a number of lightweight teen movies, including For Those Who Think Young and Get Yourself a College Girl in 1964.
Walkin' All Over the Charts
With the help of a talented songwriter, a shift in her singing style, and a new look, Sinatra struck gold with her 1966 album Boots, a success that coincided with the end of her marriage to Sands. Advisors had suggested that she pitch her voice a bit lower and retool her image to combine a tough and alluring attitude with sweet femininity, what Heller described as "a sex-kitten-who-had-studied-catechism look." More than these changes to her vocal and personal style, Sinatra's partnership with songwriter Lee Hazlewood contributed significantly to her recording breakthrough. Hugely influential as both a songwriter and a producer, Hazlewood penned a number of songs for Boots, including "I Move Around," "So Long, Babe," and the song that would remain a classic of American pop music for decades to come: "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'." Sinatra's suffer-no-fools attitude in "Boots" made her an icon and sent the song to the top of the charts. The album reached number five on Billboard's pop albums chart. With the meteoric success of "Boots" came a trademark look for Sinatra: for many years afterward she rarely appeared without her signature miniskirt and tall go-go boots.
Sinatra's partnership with Hazlewood continued with her next album, released in 1966, How Does That Grab You?. For that recording, Hazlewood added his gravelly, cowboy-style vocals, teaming with Sinatra on "Sand." The unusual combination of the two singers struck a chord with listeners, giving rise to a recording duo that would produce a number of hits over the next several years. Sinatra and Hazlewood sang a duet on Nancy in London, also released in 1966, scoring a hit with "Summer Wine." They went on to record albums as a duo, including Nancy and Lee in 1968. That album included a number of successful songs, such as "Some Velvet Morning" and "Lady Bird." More than 30 years later, in 2004, the duo would reunite to record Nancy and Lee 3. Sinatra also had a reliable duet partner in her father; the pair recorded several songs together, including the hit "Somethin' Stupid," recorded as a single in the late 1960s.
In addition to recording her popular albums, Sinatra also continued to act in films, including 1966's The Last of the Secret Agents? and The Wild Angels, and 1968's Speedway, which costarred Elvis Presley. She also appeared on occasional television programs, including Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In and The Dean Martin Show. Sinatra contributed songs to films as well, notably the title song to the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice.
A Retreat, and a Return
In spite of her numerous hit songs, Sinatra was dismissed by many music critics and fellow musicians as a purveyor of nothing more than lightweight fluff, a singer who owed much of her success to her famous father. After marrying choreographer Hugh Lambert in 1970 and giving birth to two daughters, Angela Jennifer, or A.J., and Amanda, Sinatra opted to spend her time raising her children rather than recording albums. In 1985 she reminded the world of her presence with the publication of a loving biography of the elder Sinatra, Frank Sinatra: My Father. In an attempt to set the record straight about her father's supposedly explosive temperament, Sinatra examined her father's weaknesses but asserted that the media's portrayal of him had been exaggerated. A review of the book in Time magazine pointed out the stark contrast between Sinatra's memoir of her father, in which "a daughter extravagantly admires her father," and many other tell-all confessionals of familial bitterness. The year of her book's publication also marked a personal tragedy for Sinatra: Lambert, her husband of fifteen years, died of cancer in August of 1985.
Ten years later, after her daughters reached adulthood, Sinatra again entered the limelight, attempting to rekindle a career in show business. Prompted by a longheld desire to return to performing as well as a need to make a living after the death of her husband, she embarked on a series of projects in 1995. She published another biography of her father, a lavish coffee-table book called Frank Sinatra: An American Legend. She released a comeback album, One More Time, which earned some praise but made little impression on the listening public. In the spring of that year Sinatra posed nude for Playboy magazine a few months shy of her fifty-fifth birthday.
Sinatra's re-entry into the music business proved to be a gradual one. Together with a band, she began touring small clubs and bars throughout the United States. Encounters with young fans at her shows revealed to her that, while she had failed to earn widespread respect from her peers, she had made a huge impression on a younger generation of music fans, as well as indie and alternative-rock musicians. In a 2004 article for the New York Times, Jody Rosen explained that many 1990s-era rockers had looked to the 1960s for inspiration, and some found what they were looking for in the songs that Sinatra had made famous. Their admiration extended beyond the creative songwriting of such artists as Hazlewood. These latter-day rock musicians also fell in love with Sinatra's vocals, which were, as Rosen described, "not always conventionally pretty, but bursting with personality and a sexual forthrightness that few white female vocalists of her time dared touch." One of Sinatra's most devoted fans turned out to be Morrissey, the influential and angst-ridden former lead singer of British rock group the Smiths.
During 2003 Sinatra's daughter, A.J. Azzarto, a musician and co-owner of a recording studio in New Jersey, began spreading the word among her contacts in the indie rock community that her mother was at work on a new album and looking for collaborators. A number of prominent musicians answered the call, with some performing on various tracks and many contributing songs to the 2004 release Nancy Sinatra. A number of the songs were composed especially for Sinatra, while others were chosen to reflect her style and personality. Morrissey supplied "Let Me Kiss You," a song that also appeared on his 2004 album You Are the Quarry. U2's Bono and the Edge contributed "Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad," a song originally written for Frank Sinatra. Jarvis Cocker of the British band Pulp and singer-songwriter Pete Yorn also supplied songs.
Tim Sendra of All Music Guide described Nancy Sinatra as "a resounding success." Rosen wrote that the album is "a tribute that invites audiences to look again at Sinatra, who has been misunderstood and underrated for much of her career." In a 2004 interview with Nancy Miller of Entertainment Weekly, Sinatra defended that career and expressed pride in her accomplishments: "Musicians in my generation don't pay attention to me. I was not `serious' in their minds. Maybe it's because the songs sounded frivolous, but they weren't frivolous, and the fact that they've lasted for 40 years proves that. I look back on that now and think to myself, Yeah, you did good."
by Judy Galens
Nancy Sinatra's Career
Began recording on father Frank Sinatra's label, Reprise, early 1960s; appeared in films For Those Who Think Young and Get Yourself a College Girl, 1964; released Boots, reaching number one with single "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," 1966; starred in The Last of the Secret Agents? and The Wild Angels, 1966; costarred with Elvis Presley in Speedway, 1968; released a number of successful albums on Reprise, including How Does That Grab You?, Nancy in London, and Movin' with Nancy, 1966-68; released first duo album with Lee Hazlewood, Nancy and Lee, 1968; released a comeback attempt, One More Time, 1995; released acclaimed star-studded tribute, Nancy Sinatra, 2004.
- Selected discography
- Boots Reprise, 1966; reissued, Sundazed, 1995.
- How Does That Grab You? Reprise, 1966; reissued, Sundazed, 1995.
- Nancy in London Reprise, 1966; reissued, Sundazed.
- Movin' with Nancy Reprise, 1968; reissued, Sundazed, 1996.
- (With Lee Hazlewood) Nancy and Lee Reprise, 1968.
- (With Lee Hazlewood) Nancy and Lee 3 Boots/WEA International, 2004.
- Nancy Sinatra Sanctuary, 2004.
May 11, 2006: Sinatra received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Source: USA Today, www.usatoday.com/life/people/2006-05-12-sinatra_x.htm, May 14, 2006.
- Entertainment Weekly, March 24, 1995, p. 63; September 24, 2004, p. 65.
- Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, April 19, 1995.
- New York Times, September 28, 2004.
- People, December 18, 1995, p. 89.
- Time, January 6, 1986, p. 92.
- "Frank Sinatra: Biography," Icebergradio.com, http://www.icebergradio.com/artist.asp?artist=465 (November 4, 2004).
- "Nancy Sinatra," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (November 4, 2004).
- Nancy Sinatra Official Website, http://www.nancysinatra.com/home.php4 (November 4, 2004).
- "Nancy Sinatra," RollingStone.com, http://www.rollingstone.com (November 4, 2004).