SINATRA AND HOGAN
In July of 1953, Sinatra made an overseas trip to Scotland. Battling a career slump – he had been dropped by his record label the year before, although he had already found a new home with Capitol Records – and his popularity waning as he moved away from his teen-dream years, the series of concerts in Glasgow, Ayr and Dundee came at a particularly crucial time.
In fact, the Dundee concerts might have been one of his lowest points. At one show, he played to a crowd of approximately 500 in the 3,000-seat Caird Hall, inviting those in the cheap seats to move down closer to the stage.
But the trip wasn’t a total loss.
While in Scotland, Sinatra found time to attend The Open Championship in Carnoustie. He wanted to support Ben Hogan, who was making his first – and only – start at The Open Championship. Hogan had won the first two majors that season and Sinatra, having been bitten by the golf bug, was curious to see if Hogan could win the third leg.
Sinatra was on hand Thursday morning to see Hogan shoot 71 in the second round (the last two rounds were played on Friday) and declared that “all America is rooting for Hogan.”
Perhaps the Hogan magic rubbed off on Sinatra.
Three months later, the movie “From Here to Eternity” was released. It would win eight Oscars, including Sinatra as supporting actor. (Parts of the movie, incidentally, were filmed at the beach near Waialae Country Club, host course of the Sony Open in Hawaii.) Sinatra’s first Capitol record, “Songs for Young Lovers,” was also released, yielding several classics amidst critical acclaim.
With his career revived, Sinatra was now starting the next phase of his legendary career.
Meanwhile, his admiration for Hogan never wavered. According to Golf Digest, Sinatra once hired Hogan to be the teaching pro at his club in Palm Springs.
Sinatra’s home – or Compound, as he preferred to call it – in Palm Springs was near one of the fairways at Tamarisk Country Club.
Across the way was the home of another entertainer, Zeppo Marx and his wife, Barbara.
That’s where Sinatra first saw her.
Eventually, Barbara’s marriage to Marx dissolved (she was 26 years younger), and she started dating Sinatra. They eventually married in 1976, and she remains the host of his charity event.
CELEBRITIES & CHARITY
There is another golf tournament that currently has Sinatra’s name attached to it.
The Frank Sinatra Celebrity Invitational is scheduled for Feb. 18-20 next year at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California. The two-day celebrity-amateur tournament, which will be played on the Eagle Falls course, was founded in 1988.
Barbara Sinatra, Sinatra’s fourth (and final) wife, is the hostess (along with co-host Joe Mantegna, the actor currently starring in TV’s Criminal Minds), and the event raises funds for the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California. So far, it has raised more than $9 million for victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse.
Not surprising, along with the golf, there is a fashion show and a black tie gala, along with three nights of parities. Sinatra, who died in 1998, would have approved.
GOLF CART ACCIDENT
One last sort-of golf-related Sinatra story …
For more than a decade, Sinatra was connected with the Sands hotel in Vegas (he first started performing there in October of 1953). That’s where he liked to gamble, and if he suffered losses, the hotel would forgive them. After all, Sinatra was a draw, and hotel management knew that other high-rollers loved to rub shoulders with Sinatra in the same casino.
But after Howard Hughes bought the hotel in the mid-1960s, he decided to limit Sinatra’s credit line. Sinatra didn’t know about it until he tried to establish credit one night when he was entertaining some Apollo astronauts. He promptly got into a fight with one of the hotel’s executives.
Afterwards, he stormed off with his wife Mia Farrow. As they headed out of the hotel, he spotted a golf cart that the hotel utilized to shuttle around VIPs. The two jumped in the cart and an angry Sinatra stomped on the accelerator.
“We were headed straight for the shiny plate-glass window,” Farrow said in the book, “Sinatra: Behind the Legend.” “I knew it was pointless to say a word. In the final instant, we swerved and smashed sidelong into the window.”
Neither Sinatra nor his wife was harmed, but the damage to his relationship with the Sands was irreparable. He soon jumped ship to Caesar’s Palace.
No word on the fate of the golf cart.