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Frank Sinatra did it his drunken, sex-crazed violent way, Paul Anka writes in new book filled with sordid details of Ol' Blue Eyes
In new memoir, former teen idol Anka gives the inside story of Mafia and music
By Sherryl Connelly / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Published: Sunday, March 31, 2013, 1:00 AM
Updated: Sunday, March 31, 2013, 1:00 AM
Michael Ochs Archives
Frank Sinatra (c.) and pals Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin ruled Las Vegas in the 1960s.
Paul Anka, in his new memoir "My Way," writes about his wild nights with Rat Pack.
In his searingly honest new memoir, “My Way,” Paul Anka tells tales and names names. And one that keeps cropping up is Frank Sinatra, the good, the bad, and the murderous.
The former teen idol had always been in awe of the uber-cool Sinatra, and when Anka got to Vegas in 1960, Ol’ Blue Eyes still ruled the Rat Pack and the town.
But Anka was around for the ugly years, too, when Sinatra’s star was fading and he was filled with impotent rage, once ordering a hit on a casino manager.
It was Anka who brought Sinatra back, writing what became the icon’s signature ballad, “My Way.” Its success relaunched Sinatra’s fabled career in 1969.
In the beginning, it was glorious.
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin both called actress and singer Angie Dickinson "the best in bed."
“From the first time I heard about the Rat Pack, I wanted to be around these guys and amazingly, they took me in,” Anka writes.
Long nights on the town would end at the health club, open in the wee hours only to Sinatra and company. The boys all wore robes that Sinatra had given them, thoughtfully emblazoned with their nickname. Sammy Davis Jr. was Smokey the Bear, Dean Martin was the Dago and Anka was the Kid.
“The food was great, the girls were hot, tiptoeing into the steam room giggling,” Anka writes.
Show girls would come in, strip, and wait. Or Sinatra would hire pros for the night, he says, “These beautiful women, standing there stark naked.” Massage rooms were available for any of the guys who wanted to take advantage. But no gangbangs — Anka says Sinatra was not into that.
And then there was Angie Dickinson. In later years, casino owner Steve Wynn asked the infamous swordsman, who, of all the women he’d known, was the best in bed? Dean Martin was there, too, and, Anka writes, they both agreed: “Angie!”
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Anka writes that sexy star Dickinson was also romantically linked to former President John F. Kennedy.
Anka doesn’t mention it, but Dickinson had also been linked to John F. Kennedy. What Anka does write about is Kennedy as a “wild and horny” senator.
“I saw the reality: Kennedy and the hookers, the women who hung around Frank, and the mob. . . . The things I saw and witnessed, it was all part of show business, but it was pretty wild. All the JFK escapades with show girls happened in Vegas.”
Even Johnny Carson was obsessed with Sinatra. “He was also a big drinker and a bad drunk,” Anka reports. Carson would hang around Jilly’s Saloon on W. 52nd St. in Manhattan hoping to connect to Sinatra, but Sinatra never paid him any attention.
One night a drunk Carson started pinching the backsides of a couple of woman at the bar. Unfortunately, they were “side dishes” — girlfriends of gangsters. Their boyfriends threw Carson down a flight of stairs. When he landed, the mobsters started kicking him, Anka says, and only the intervention of Jilly Rizzo, a close Sinatra confederate, saved Carson from far worse bodily harm.
Sinatra always had time for the mob.
Sinatra, seen here with new bride Mia Farrow in 1966, took the actress on a wild ride.
Anka admits he himself had a cozy relationship with the boys. No one tried to take him over, to run him, but they were friendly. He says he felt just a little more secure when the guys were around, but Sinatra was “fascinated” with the Mafia.
“Frank was tied up with the mob to the degree where he did favors for them,” Anka writes. “He liked the thrill of being involved with gangsters. Jules Podell, the owner of the Copa, told me that he acted as a bagman for the Mafia a number of times, but they eventually stopped using him because he always got caught.”
There was that time in New York he got stopped at customs with $3 million in a briefcase. Sinatra tried to bluff the agent who had opened the case, but what saved him was the growing line behind him. When the other passengers realized it was Sinatra ahead of them, they turned into a mob of fans pressing to get close. Things were nearly out of control when the decision was made to wave Sinatra through.
Certainly the FBI was interested in Sinatra’s close associates. Anka recalls being with Sinatra in Florida when the singer was fuming. There were holes in the walls and the floorboards from the bugs planted throughout the suite. Sinatra would have new phones installed, then the bugs would be back, and so on.
Finally, in the middle of the night, he told his pal Jilly to “get rid of this s---.” Jilly took the furniture from the penthouse and tossed it over the balcony onto the beach.
Frank Sinatra with John F. Kennedy at President's inauguration in 1961. Anka writes that Kennedy was "wild and horny" as a senator who had trysts with showgirls in Las Vegas.
As the ’60s wore on, crooners lost their appeal and even Vegas lost its cool. The always-volatile Sinatra turned ugly. Really ugly.
There was the night in 1967 when he ran up a $500,000 gambling debt at the Sands, where he was headlining, then disappeared for the weekend. He certainly didn’t come back apologetic.
Sinatra seized one of the golf carts used for luggage, plunked his wife, Mia Farrow, in the passenger seat, and drove it into the glass entryway, shattering it. Anka says Sinatra wasn’t angry at the moment, just very, very drunk. So drunk he kept trying to set fire to curtains in the lobby but couldn’t manage to start a blaze.
But soon afterward, Anka writes, Sinatra was furious enough to call for a hit on the manager of the Sands, Carl Cohen. Howard Hughes had taken over, and the game had changed. Sinatra was being refused his gratis markers, and he was used to getting $50,000 worth of free chips.
As Anka describes it, Sinatra jumped on a blackjack table, bringing all the action in the casino to a halt as he raged and cursed. Anka and Rizzo got him into the coffee shop, where Cohen showed up to make peace.
Harry Langdon/Getty Images
Anka reveals the sordid details of the Rat Pack in his memoir. He writes that Sammy Davis Jr. became addicted to porn and had a threesome with "Deep Throat" star Linda Lovelace and her husband Chuck Traynor.
The first thing Sinatra did was hurl a chair at Cohen’s security guard. Still, Cohen tried to calm him, explaining that Hughes was in charge and certain things couldn’t be done. Sinatra responded by ripping away the tablecloth, spilling scalding hot coffee into Cohen’s lap.
So Cohen punched Sinatra in the face — and the singer’s dental caps flew out of his mouth. Anka helped hustle Sinatra out before the cops arrived; he was quickly on a Learjet to L.A., where he got his teeth done and plotted revenge.
“He puts the word out to the boys he wants Carl dead,” Anka writes.
But the boys said no.
“You have to understand, the mob still ran the place, and Carl was one of the boys from Cleveland,” Anka writes. “Frank was a singer, who may have all these mob connections but he wasn’t a mob guy. He was an entertainer.”
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Paul Anka came a long way from his teen-idol days.
Sinatra started talking retirement. He was fed up and done. There would be one more album. Over dinner, he reminded Anka that long ago he had promised to write a song for him.
So with a dispirited Sinatra ready to cash in his chips very much on his mind, Anka wrote “My Way,” using the melody to a French song that he’d bought the rights to. Sinatra released it in 1969 — and Ol’ Blue Eyes was back.
But Sinatra was older and drinking harder this second go-round on the world stage. He grew increasingly tense about being publicly linked to the mob — though he wasn’t closing down private ties, not at all.
Anka relates a tale Rizzo told him of the summer night at the Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel: Things got out of control at Dean Martin’s birthday party, and a corporate executive came over demanding they quiet down. The guy ended up in the hospital, though he recovered and refrained from pressing criminal charges.
“Jilly, never one to rat on any situation, told me only just so much,” Anka writes. “He said Frank was very upset about it, very concerned that the guy was going to die, but not concerned enough that he tried to stop the beating up of the guy by his goons.”
Sammy Davis Jr., too, was in a strange place. He became addicted to porn, obsessed with Linda Lovelace of “Deep Throat” fame to the point that he got into threesomes with the actress and her husband, Chuck Traynor, Anka writes.
Davis would tell Anka about his bisexuality. “He would confide these things to me, how cool it would be to be involved with two women, with guys,” Anka says.
The show was definitely coming to an end, and the last act was sad. It got to the point where Anka stopped going to see Sinatra perform since it was too painful to watch him fumble for lyrics or forget to put on his wig as he did one night.
“It was a tragic end to a brilliant career,” he writes.
One of the last times they had dinner, Sinatra told him how much he had wanted to play Marlon Brando’s role in “The Godfather.” Sinatra got very worked up about it. “He had become a lost soul,” says Anka.