WEIRDLAND: RIP Barbara Sinatra, Ava: A Life in Movies

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

RIP Barbara Sinatra, Ava: A Life in Movies

Barbara Sinatra passed away on Tuesday at her home in California. The former model and fourth wife of Frank Sinatra was 90, and had been in declining for several months. Barbara became one of the most famous women in the world when she married Sinatra in 1976, spending 22 years with the singer before he passed away in 1998 at the age of 82 from a heart attack. She leveraged the fame afforded to her by way of her marriage to raise funds and rally support for a number of charitable causes, most notably the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center at Eisenhower Medical Center.

Barbara divorced Zeppo Marx in 1973, at which point she and Sinatra had already made a very public display of their relationship. She said it her way: The star, seen here in 2005, wrote about Frank in her tell-all autobiography "Lady Blue Eyes" (2011). Barbara converted to Roman Catholicism before marrying Frank in 1976, with the two enjoying a long and happy union. Barbara had previously told the Desert Sun she was never sure why Frank wanted to marry her instead of another star like Ava Gardner or Mia Farrow. 'I’ve tried to analyze it,' she said. 'I think it’s because we were friends before anything romantic happened. He would call and chat, but it wasn’t romantic until later. It’s something you can’t explain why or how it happened.'

There is no one Frank trusted more however, which was made very clear in his final will and testament, which left almost everything to Barbara. She received over $3million, three California mansions (in Beverly Hills, Malibu and Palm Springs), the rights to Sinatra's legendary 'Trilogy' recordings and complete control over her husband's name and likeness. Source:

For more information about Barbara Sinatra, please read my previous post Frank Sinatra biographies: Mr. Ol' Blue Eyes and Lady Blue Eyes

Ava, a Life in Movies (2017), a new biography by Kendra Bean and Anthony Uzarowski, delves into the late screen siren’s colorful life, on and offscreen.  From her wild affair and marriage with Sinatra to her other rocky romances here are some of the most fascinating details about the woman who won the hearts of movie audiences and some of Hollywood’s most famous leading men. She was divorced twice before the age of 25.

“She was more than just a sex symbol or Mrs. Frank Sinatra or this crazy hard-drinking person,” Bean says. Bean’s co-author Uzarowski echoes this sentiment: “She was a real person, and she was an actor as well. There is a legacy there that needs to be looked at. It’s not just image.” For Gardner, image and glamour are central to her identity; after all, it was a photograph that first earned her a ticket to Hollywood. The authors compare her to Marilyn Monroe in this regard, with Uzarowski noting, “There exists this very one-dimensional view of her as just this unbelievably beautiful person.” “She just had a really keen sense of humor. She didn’t take life too seriously,” Bean says.

Sinatra was still married when he dated Ava, and the book recounts a time when an insistent Gardner made the crooner drive to his house, where he phoned his wife Nancy asking her to confirm to the actress that he had asked her for a divorce. Though Nancy initially refused to give in, she eventually granted Sinatra a divorce and he married Gardner in 1951. She had two abortions while married to Sinatra: While the two traveled to Nairobi for Gardner’s role in Mogambo, Gardner became pregnant with Sinatra’s child and chose to have an abortion after Sinatra left, without telling him. 

Sinatra was reportedly crushed when he found out about the abortion, but the two continued to try to make their difficult relationship work. When Gardner became pregnant again and decided to terminate it, Sinatra was there when she woke up with “tears streaming down his face.” The two would go on to have multiple affairs with others before divorcing in 1957, though they remained close friends until her death in 1990. By merging the image of a woman renowned for her physical beauty with a nuanced study of her life and career, the book forces readers to look beyond Gardner's exterior star persona. “It puts her in a wider cultural context, and that was very important for us,” Bean says. Source:

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