Lady Blue Eyes

Celebrity tell-alls are not necessarily my cup of tea, but when I saw that Barbara Sinatra was coming out with the book Lady Blue Eyes, I was interested. Barbara was not only Frank Sinatra's fourth and final wife (staying married to him until his death in 1998) but she was married to Zeppo Marx as well for a number of years. I'm a big Marx Brothers fan and there are a number of fun Chico, Harpo and Groucho anecdotes through this book. Apparently Groucho (in his 80s at the time) was one of the few people who criticized Frank to his face when Barbara decided to divorce Zeppo and live with Frank.

Barbara Sinatra grew up in a small town in Missouri and was able to parlay her tall blonde looks into a modelling career in Las Vegas. She would eventually move to L.A. to marry Zeppo, who was actually her second husband (though her only child, a son, came from the first marriage). Zeppo was much older and Barbara tells us that this was a marriage for financial security, though she expresses very few ill feelings towards Zeppo. Frank Sinatra was a neighbor and over time the two of them became close, allowing Frank to woo her away from Zeppo and eventually marry her.

Obviously, the reason to pick up this book is for the anecdotes, and while Barbara provides plenty of them, they mostly focus on an older crew. Sinatra's buddy Jilly is a major part of the stories as is Frank Sinatra's mother (both of whom died in tragic accidents at an advanced age). Frank's supposed ties to organized crime are addressed as is his drinking and occasional foul moods, but for the most part this is a feel-good love story. Frank truly seemed to find the right woman at the right time.

The latter half of this book is essentially devoted to Frank's domesticity. After retiring from performing in the mid-seventies he was eventually lured back on the road, though you get the sense that his skills were declining in his last decade of performing. Barbara Sinatra has been focused on charitable activities in the latter part of her life and she details these, along with Frank's contributions. While the first half of the book certainly has plenty of drinking, fighting, carousing and practical jokes, you won't get to see the raucous mob-connected Sinatra portrayed in other biographies.

What I loved most about this book was it's portrayal of a bygone time when stars were stars. Dino, Sammy, Princess Grace, Cary Grant, Don Rickles, Gregory Peck and many other Hollywood and entertainment greats continually pop up as part of the entourage. It's fun to imagine what hanging out with Frank and Sinatra would have been like, although Frank's ability to stay up all night might exhaust a person in no time! This is a breezy and generally involving read for anyone interested in Sinatra and his associates.

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