Barbara Sinatra, widow of Frank Sinatra, has died
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Barbara Sinatra, the widow of singer Frank Sinatra, died today of natural causes at her home in Rancho Mirage, California. She was 90.
Frank and Barbara were married in 1976. She would be the last of his four wives and the marriage (his longest) would last for 22 years until the singer died in 1998. Sinatra’s previous wives included Nancy Barbato (the mother of Sinatra’s three children, Nancy, Tina and the late Frank Jr.), Ava Gardner and Mia Farrow.
A longtime philanthropist, Mrs. Sinatra along with her husband, founded the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center in 1986, to provide therapy and other support to young victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. In the years since, more than 20,000 children have been treated at the center in the desert city of Rancho Mirage and hundreds of thousands more throughout the world through videos it provides, according to the Associated Press.
In her 2011 memoir, “Lady Blue Eyes: My Life with Frank,” Mrs. Sinatra detailed her life with the iconic singer, but also gave readers a glimpse of her pre-Sinatra world — “from small-town Missouri to fashion model and entrepreneur, from Las Vegas showgirl to Palm Springs socialite. There are the failed marriages, including one to comedian Zeppo Marx during which she ultimately succumbs to the irresistible wiles of Sinatra,” according to a 2011 Sun-Times interview in which Mrs. Sinatra discussed the book.
“I had always been madly in love with his music, ever since I was a teenager. I met him for the first time when I was a showgirl in Las Vegas, and I didn’t like his attitude,” Mrs. Sinatra said in the interview. “I would read things about him and his reputation, and I didn’t want to get mixed up with him back then.”
Her attitude changed as Ol’ Blue Eyes eventually swept her off her feet. Sinatra would “propose” to her at the Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago.
“I wouldn’t call it a proposal,” Mrs. Sinatra said in the Sun-Times interview. “I’d given him an ultimatum before he left for Chicago for a series of shows. I was back in Las Vegas running a tennis tournament and he had me flown out to Chicago. When I got to the hotel I opened the door and the whole room was filled with flowers. He threw a big pear-shaped diamond and a huge emerald onto the bed and said go to Jeweler’s [Row] and have them set any way you want. So I went down the next day and had the diamond set as an engagement ring. I took it back to the hotel and I told him to put it on me. He didn’t do it. We went to dinner that night and he had put it in my champagne glass. I found it and I said again, ‘You put it on.’ And I stuck out all my fingers, and luckily he put it on the right finger. But still no proposal. We flew home to California and a few days later he just said “Don’t you think we should name the date?” And I finally realized that was the best I was going to get.”
Not even a pre-nuptial agreement could derail her love for him. “Well, of course I signed it,” Barbara Sinatra said in the 2011 Sun-Times interview, “because I knew we’d never divorce.”
Born Barbara Blakely in Bosworth, Missouri, in her memoir she recalled growing up poor and friendless. She moved with her family to Wichita, Kansas, when she was 10, and to Long Beach, California, at 18. Her first marriage, to a Sinatra-style singer, was brief as he struggled to find work. They split shortly after the birth of her son and she married Zeppo Marx (of the famed Marx Brothers) in 1959.
She is survived by her son, Robert Oliver Marx, and a grand-daughter, Carina Blakeley Marx.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Contributing: Associated Press