(PCM) Any follower of pop culture history will know that Frank Sinatra, our loving Ol’ Blue Eyes, definitely had his fare share of run-ins with the law. Sinatra was a true icon in the music industry and beloved by his millions of fans, however he was most certainly involved in some illicit activities with some rather shady individuals.
The FBI has an entire file dedicated to Frank Sinatra which the majority of its’ contents were finally made public back in 1998. The agency did black out certain passages in the released material and 25 pages were withheld, as the FBI cited privacy protection of other third parties mentions in the documents.
It is said that a letter was sent to J. Edgar Hoover on August 13, 1943 that alleged the popularity of Frank Sinatra was being used to prepare the masses to accept a new “Hitler”. This letter would end up inciting an FBI surveillance operation on Sinatra for the next 40 years.
The author of the letter, which can be read below, remains a government secret, but we do know it was sent from San Jose, California.
“The other day I turned on a Frank Sinatra program and I noted the shrill whistling sound, created supposedly by a bunch of girls cheering. Last night as I heard Lucky Strike produce more of this same hysteria I thought: how easy it would be for certain-minded manufacturers to create another Hitler here in America through the influence of mass-hysteria! I believe that those who are using this shrill whistling sound are aware that it is similar to that which produced Hitler. That they intend to get a Hitler in by first planting in the minds of the people that men like Frank Sinatra are O.K. therefore this future Hitler will be O.K.”
By today’s standards that letter may sound a bit far-fetched, however it was definitely taken seriously at the time.
On September 2, the author of the letter received the following reply,
“I have carefully noted the content of your letter and wish to thank you for volunteering your comments and observations in this regard.”
Sincerely yours, John Edgar Hoover, Director.”
Hoover and the bureau used the letter about a bunch of girls cheering to open file #62-83219 “for the purpose of filing miscellaneous information” on a subject the bureau would refer to over the next 40 years as “Francis Albert Sinatra, a k a Frank Sinatra.”
Frank Sinatra’s FBI file ended up becoming nearly six inches thick and contained 1,275 pages. Spanning five decades, the documents detail the curious and complex relationship between the nation’s greatest entertainer at the time and its most powerful law enforcement agency.
The documents in Sinatra’s FBI file look into his alleged mafia ties, his various claims of extortion and corruption, his excuse to avoid fighting in World War II and so much more! The files dig deep into Sinatra’s arrest records for charges of seduction and adultery and how he once offered his services as a FBI informer.
Many believed the Sinatra bribed a doctor in New Jersey to excuse him from active military duty, however it was discovered in the FBI files that Sinatra was actually properly rejected due to perforated eardrum and an unstable mental condition. That seemingly put the rumors to rest, however others don’t buy the mental condition diagnosis and Sinatra claimed he could not be around crowd, yet he was a performer who would put on shows for hundreds of people on stage each and every night. We are guessing that one will forever remain a mystery.
When looking at Sinatra’s ties to the mafia, the FBI were never able to come up with anything concrete. Sinatra always denied any involvement despite being chummy with known mobsters such as Jilly Rizzo, Joe Gallo and Carlo Gambino to name a few. Sinatra was never formally charged in any case.
Sinatra would become, in journalist Pete Hamill’s words, “the most investigated American performer since John Wilkes Booth.” at the time, however by the early 1950’s most of the FBI’s obsession with Sinatra would come to an end. As, the FBI could never prove anything criminal against Sinatra, however the rumors and accusations would forever haunt him for the rest of his days.