Painting Frank Sinatra

Sinatra smile by Neira

The image of Frank Sinatra was captured in thousands of photographs over the years.  Some are on the album covers found in millions of record collections.  Some were on movie posters and in concert programs seen throughout the world.  And some fill the many books and magazines in which he was featured.  And then there is Frank Sinatra as art, brought to life by painters who chose for their subject this incomparable recording artist, actor, and concert performer.   According to a Sinatra expert, one such artist is Argentina’s Marcelo Neira. 

FrankLV by Neira - Copy

Marcelo worked first as an illustrator, with his work published in newspapers and magazines.  Then he turned to portrait painting, focusing on celebrities.  His collection of celebrity portraits includes movie stars like Al Pacino, Humphrey Bogart and Sean Connery.   

Among the jazz musicians Marcelo has painted are Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and Dizzy Gillespie.  Rock and roll musicians represented are Elvis, The Beatles and Prince, among others. 

Rat Pack serious by Neira

But the one celebrity to whom Marcelo really gravitated would be Frank Sinatra.  A true Sinatra aficionado, he has a large collection of Sinatra music and memorabilia, and has even hosted a Sinatra themed radio show.  However, when you see his beautiful paintings of the chairman of the board you’d probably agree that they pay the greatest tribute of all.  By the way, Marcelo’s Frank Sinatra collection, which is truly inspired, also includes wonderful paintings of Rat Pack co-stars Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.  To see and purchase some beautiful portrait art, visit Marcelo at  (Below:  Marcelo Neira)


Published in: on July 11, 2017 at 11:18 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Frank Sinatra – Young At Heart


It was a song, and the title of not one, but two movies, both Sinatra-related.  First came the song, in 1953, and Frank Sinatra was the first to record it.  It was so popular that it became the title of a film starring Frank and Doris Day, and the song was featured in the film’s opening and closing credits.

youngposterIn 1955’s Young At Heart, Frank plays a troubled musician thrown into the mix of several romantic entanglements.  Others in the cast included Gig Young, Ethel Barrymore and Dorothy Malone.  And the script was co-written by Lenore J. Coffee and Julius Epstein, Julius being the brilliant screenwriter who co-wrote Casablanca with his twin brother Phillip as reported by the Tribute Performers website.

In Young At Heart, Frank’s character Barney Sloan was supposed to kill himself, but because Frank’s characters died in his two previous films (From Here to Eternity and Suddenly) Frank preferred that his character live on this time, and the studio complied with his wishes.  As a result, there’s still a suicide attempt but it’s unsuccessful.

Fast forward forty years to 1995 when CBS presented a TV movie also called Young At Heart.  It starred Olympia Dukakis as Rose Garaventi, an Italian grandmother residing in Frank’s hometown of Hoboken New Jersey.  Like many women, as a teenager, Rose had a crush on F.S., and the crush continued on through her life to the point that when her husband Joe dies, she hears Sinatra’s voice in a dream, telling her to get on with her life, despite serious financial difficulties to overcome, left for her by Joe.

Finally, a financial crisis is averted, and Rose and family are gathered together as Young At Heart by Frank plays in the background.  Then, to everyone’s amazement, they discover that Frank is there in the flesh, at the age of 80.  Dressed in his signature tux, he presents Rose with, what else but a beautiful red rose.  And when she asks what he’s doing there, he replies with his only line, “Joe sent me”.  The movie also features other Sinatra recordings including Dream, and Someone to Watch Over Me.

As for the song Young at Heart, it was recorded over the years by many artists including Tony Bennett, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante, Bobby Vinton, and Rosemary Clooney, along with more contemporary performers like Barry Manilow, Gloria Estefan, Michael Buble, and even Bob Dylan.  But as a song, and a part of pop culture, Young at Heart will always be most associated with. . .Frank Sinatra.

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Published in: on December 3, 2016 at 12:11 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Frank Sinatra and The Girl From Ipanema


In 1967, Frank Sinatra recorded an album with Brazil’s Antonio Carlos Jobim.  It contained Bossa Nova style versions of some great standards.  Among them was the album’s first song, The Girl From Ipanema, which is believed to be the second most recorded pop song in history, behind the Beatles’ Yesterday. 

The Girl From Ipanema was orginally introduced by jazz musician Stan Getz and vocalist Astrud Gilberto in 1964, and their recording rose high in the charts that year.  Other female artists who recorded the song have included Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt, Shirley Bassey, Petula Clark, and Diana Krall, to name a few.   And with the exception of Astrud Gilberto, all of the female vocalists sang “The Boy from Ipanema” and changed the lyrics from “tall and tan and young and lovely” to “tall and tan and young and handsome“.


There actually was a girl from Ipanema, who inspired the song.  Her name was Heloisa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, but she has become known as Helo Pinheiro.  She was a statuesque young woman who frequented the Ipanema district of Rio de Janeiro, attracting many loving glances including those of the song’s composers, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vincius de Moraes.  Another song writing credit goes to Norman Gimbel who wrote the English lyrics.

As for Frank Sinatra’s version, it’s part of the album about which he remarked that he had never sung so softly before. And soft it was.  The gentle, sensitive quality of his vocals on the Sinatra/Jobim collection are truly memorable and another example of the unique talent of  Frank Sinatra.

Here, a leading Frank Sinatra impersonator pays tribute to Frank Sinatra and The Girl From Ipanema.  Monty Aidem does a full Frank Sinatra tribute show, and can be found on the web at

Published in: Uncategorized on April 25, 2015 at 11:33 AM  Leave a Comment  

A New Frank Sinatra Tribute CD

CD Cover 495x490_72dpi copy

 When making an album with vocals and instrumentation, the quality of the performance is essential, along with the technical aspects like the mixing and mastering.  But another important element is the song selection.  And getting that right was a priority for a new Frank Sinatra Tribute CD called Some Special Favorites, by Frank Sinatra tribute performer Monty Aidem.

The new release, on Vintage Hat Records, features 15 songs carefully selected to represent a cross-section of Frank Sinatra’s recordings, from different chronological periods, to different Sinatra moods, covering the swinging Count Basie sound, to the soft vocals of the Antonio Carlos Jobim/Frank Sinatra collaboration.

In producing the CD, the objective was to re-create the Sinatra vocal style, complete with the Sinatra arrangements.  Many of the songs included are songs that were performed in concert by F.S. like You Make Me Feel So Young, I Won’t Dance, and The Best Is Yet To Come.  And some of the other selections were featured on Sinatra TV specials, like The Girl From Ipanema, Baubles,  Bangles and Beads, and Love’s Been Good To Me, not to mention Paul Anka’s dramatic Let Me Try Again, performed by Mr. S. during his Madison Square Garden concert and TV special known as The Main Event.  And the song was also featured on the TV special Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back.

Also included in this collection is the tribute performer’s favorite Sinatra song, a lesser-known ballad called I Had The Craziest Dream.  The full list of tracks, and samples of each one are available at the Frank Sinatra impersonator Monty Aidem’s website, at his Frank Sinatra Tribute CD page

Published in: on July 7, 2014 at 2:17 PM  Comments Off on A New Frank Sinatra Tribute CD  
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Frank Sinatra’s Arranger: Nelson Riddle


When it comes to Frank Sinatra’s recordings, his success was no doubt a result of his song choices, his charisma, and his stunning vocal performances.  But another factor not to be forgotten is the arrangement or instrumentation heard under Frank on those songs, which completed the package for the listener.  Over the years, several musicians took part in arranging Frank’s recordings, but for most critics, one musician stands out.  Like Frank, he was a New Jersey native, and his name was Nelson Riddle.

Like Frank, Nelson also worked in the Tommy Dorsey orchestra, although it was after Frank had left the group.  Nelson learned arranging, and went on to some early successes with Nat King Cole’s Mona Lisa and Too Young.   Then, after joining the staff at Capitol Records, Nelson was paired with Frank for a recording session in April of 1953.  One of the songs they recorded was Nelson’s arrangement of I’ve Got The World On A String.  Frank was impressed, and it was the beginning of an historic collaboration, with Nelson arranging, and often conducting for Frank as well.

Popular Sinatra songs arranged by Nelson Riddle include All The Way, Witchcraft, Young At Heart, The Second Time Around, Nancy, In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning, Love and Marriage, Summer Wind, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, and Put Your Dreams Away, among many others.

Nelson also did the movie scores for Sinatra films High Society, Pal Joey, Robin and The 7 Hoods, and the original Ocean’s 11, plus other movies including Paint Your Wagon, 1974’s The Great Gatsby, and TV’s Batman, The Untouchables and Route 66 plus many other shows.  He also arranged music for artists including Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, and in later years Linda Ronstadt.  Nelson passed away in 1985 at the age of 64.

What was Nelson Riddle’s favorite project for Frank Sinatra?  It was Frank’s dramatic concept album called Only The Lonely. 

Learn more at Nelson Riddle’s website.   The above article was presented by Monty Aidem, who as a TV writer, worked on two TV specials with Mr. Riddle.

Nelson Riddle and Frank Sinatra

Nelson Riddle and Frank Sinatra



Published in: on October 9, 2013 at 6:08 PM  Comments Off on Frank Sinatra’s Arranger: Nelson Riddle  
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Frank Sinatra Impersonator Blog - Jilly Rizzo

Jilly Rizzo

Some people called him Frank Sinatra’s bodyguard, some people called him Frank’s right-hand man, and some said he was Ol’ Blue Eyes’ best friend.  They were all probably right about a man named Jilly Rizzo, who traveled the world with Frank and knew him better than almost anybody did.

Born Ermenigildo Rizzo on May 6th, 1917, Jilly was only a year and a half younger than Frank Sinatra and was seen at Frank’s side constantly over the years.  In fact, you’ll spot Jilly prominently at the beginning of Frank’s classic concert at Madison Square Garden called The Main Event, also produced as a TV special featuring a poetic introduction delivered by sportscasting legend Howard Cosell.

Originally, Jilly was a restaurant owner and the proprietor of Jilly’s Saloon in New York, which Frank and pals frequented.  Jilly’s establishment is memorialized in at least two Sinatra songs including the duet of Me And My Shadow with  Sammy Davis Jr., in which Frank sings the special lyrics “We’ll wind up at Jilly’s right after Toots Shor”.  And in the song Star, Frank sings “If they’ve got a drink with her name in Jilly’s bar, the chances are the lady’s a star”.

Jilly appeared several times on the TV series Laugh-In produced by longtime Sinatra friend George Schlatter, and on the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast of Frank.  And there were roles in several Sinatra films, including The Manchurian Candidate, Tony Rome and The Detective, plus Cannonball Run II.  And Jilly even had roles in some unrelated projects like the films Eternity and The Pick-up Artist, and TV’s Kojak starring Telly Savalas.

It all came to an end in 1992, when Jilly suffered an untimely death as his car was struck by a drunk driver in Rancho Mirage CA, killing Jilly on his 75th birthday.  Frank was understandably devastated by this event, which took away his longtime companion and confidant six years before Frank himself passed away in 1998. 

There may not be a Jilly Rizzo impersonator to go with the Frank Sinatra impersonators of today, but regardless, Jilly’s legacy lives on as a central member of Frank Sinatra’s inner circle.

Sinatra Impersonator - Jilly Rizzo, Frank, and Jackie O.

Jilly Rizzo, Frank Sinatra and Jacqueline Onassis in 1969

Published in: on May 21, 2013 at 7:55 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Frank Sinatra on the radio: Sirius or Pandora?

Frank Sinatra recording

An answer to the above question is offered by a Frank Sinatra tribute performer, or Frank Sinatra Impersonator in Los Angeles

Frank Sinatra is available on the radio primarily via either Sirius XM satellite or Pandora internet radio, and sampling both reveals some differences.  On Sirius, you must have a paid subscription, although many new cars come with free trial periods that vary in length.  On Sirius, you’ll find an existing channel, known as Siriusly Sinatra.  Pandora, on the other hand, is a free service via the internet and through an app for your smart phone, but as a result, there are occasional commercials within the program, both in the form of audio and graphics on your screen.  But theyre pretty infrequent and tolerable.  On Pandora, you create your Sinatra channel by selecting Frank Sinatra as your artist of choice, and a channel is initiated for you.

The Sinatra channels on both services feature primarily Frank Sinatra of course, along with other compatible artists like Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Buble, Harry Connick Jr. and many others.

Content-wise, I found some significant differences definitely exist between the two services when it comes to listening to a Frank Sinatra radio tribute.

The Sirius Sinatra channel seems to feature much more obscure Sinatra recordings, and in many cases, questionable choices in my opinion, like Mrs. Robinson and Bad Bad Leroy Brown, plus a preponderance of many very old and little known recordings that I didn’t find memorable, especially when drawn from the vast body of outstanding work recorded by F.S.   As well, the other artist choices weren’t pleasing to me, most notably when they were singing cover versions of Sinatra tunes that I would have preferred to hear by Frank.

On Pandora however, my Sinatra channel does a very good job of offering great Sinatra recordings, both the familiar and the slightly less known, surrounded by recordings by other artists, showcasing their best work.  And it seems to me that the Sinatra fan will hear a higher percentage of Sinatra on Pandora than on Sirius.  Further, on Pandora, the music is continuous without a host, whereas Sirius will sometimes feature a host offering commentary, as in one case in which I recall hearing an actress with virtually no connection to Frank, who was making innacurate statements.  Also, Pandora has a great interactive feature in which you can rate and skip songs during a listening session, allowing you to exert some influence over your experience. 

For the numerous and significant reasons listed above, between Sirius XM Satellite and Pandora, Pandora is my choice hands down when it comes to listening to Frank Sinatra on the radio.

(Article by Monty Aidem, performer of a Las Vegas stye Frank Sinatra Tribute also seen frequently in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and around the U.S.)


Published in: on December 5, 2012 at 2:44 PM  Comments Off on Frank Sinatra on the radio: Sirius or Pandora?  
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Frank Sinatra’s Opening Act Remembers

Opening the show for Frank Sinatra in Las Vegas and across America for the final thirteen years of Frank’s career was a great comedian named Tom Dreesen.  But Tom was much more than just an opening act.  He was a close friend and confidant of Frank’s.  And for the last few years, Tom has been sharing the stories of that relationship in a great show of comedy and reminiscences.  Tom’s show covers his own background, rising up from performing in small clubs, as a member of America’s first black and white comedy team, to eventually entertaining Frank Sinatra’s loving audiences in the largest arenas in the world. 

Tom is currently very busy working around the country, performing on stage, and competing in golf tournaments as one of the top celebrity golfers in America.  He’s also a frequent guest on The Late Show with David Letterman, and often serves as the emcee at the annual Frank Sinatra Golf Tournament in Palm Springs.  To learn more about Tom, visit  And read a personal reminiscence from Tom about Frank Sinatra’s last song in public, at the Frank Sinatra Impersonator site,

Published in: on July 17, 2012 at 12:02 PM  Comments Off on Frank Sinatra’s Opening Act Remembers  

Frank and Marilyn


There was a lot of affection between Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe.  And it’s believed by many that at times, it was more than affection.  Frank and Marilyn spent time together in Los Angeles, Marilyn was present for Frank Sinatra and Rat Pack shows in Las Vegas, and she made several visits to Frank at his Cal-Neva lodge in Lake Tahoe, an investment he later had to give up over charges of organized crime connections.

After Marilyn’s divorce from author Arthur Miller, Frank gave Marilyn a small white poodle to replace the dog she lost in the divorce.  Marilyn showed her sense of humor by naming the dog “Maf”, which was supposed to be short for Mafia.  It’s not generally known what Frank’s reaction was to that, but it’s known that they remained friends until Marilyn’s untimely death in August of 1962.  And it’s believed that Marilyn actually spent one of the last weekends of her life at Frank’s Cal-Neva lodge.

Frank and Marilyn are remembered in tribute shows including the Las Vegas Frank Sinatra Impersonator production called Frank and Marilyn; The Tribute, featuring two performers who live in Los Angeles.



Published in: on May 6, 2012 at 6:31 PM  Comments Off on Frank and Marilyn  

A Frank Sinatra Tribute in Bulgaria

Sofia Bulgaria was the setting for the first ever A to JazZ Festival celebrating American jazz which took place in the scenic Doctor’s Garden, an outdoor park in the heart of this historic Eastern European capital.  For three days, enthusiastic audiences were entertained with music performances featuring a collection of talent from Bulgaria and the U.S.  Concluding the three day event was a Frank Sinatra tribute performed by Monty Aidem of Los Angeles, a Frank Sinatra tribute artist, or “Frank Sinatra Impersonator“, and a multi-credited TV writer who actually wrote for Frank Sinatra on several occasions.  He was supported by Bulgaria’s outstanding big band, The Brass Association, under the direction of Angel Zaberski.  Zaberski is a highly regarded composer, conductor, jazz pianist and recording artist; one of Bulgaria’s finest.

Ambassador James Warlick

Lending support and encouragement to the three day cultural exchange was the U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria, James B. Warlick, a supporter of the arts as well as a positive influence toward the good relations between the United States and Bulgaria, where he is very popular.

Performing the Frank Sinatra tribute show, Monty Aidem offered 14 of Sinatra’s most popular titles, including Come Fly With Me, I’ve Got The World On A String, and Fly Me To The Moon, among others.  Some of the best acknowledgement came for the internationally acclaimed songs Strangers In The Night, My Way, and New York, New York.  Aidem even sang My Way on Bulgaria’s leading TV talk show, Slavi’s Show, hosted by Bulgaria’s popular TV personality Slavi Trifonov.  Since English is spoken by many Bulgarian residents, Aidem was even able to tell some jokes in English that were widely understood by the audience, eliciting laughs just as those jokes do in America.

Aidem was impressed with the Bulgarian orchestra, who played the charts flawlessly and with great style, following the lead of conductor Angel Zaberski, whose feel for the music is so instinctive it would most likely have impressed Sinatra himself.  But credit for the festival’s success must go to its creator and chief executive Peter Dimitrov, a man with a vision, plus the plans and determination to make his vision a reality, which he did with great results, as both participants and visitors to the festival would no doubt agree.

At the studios of Darik Radio Bulgaria with ( R.) radio host Niki Kanchev, the Jazz festival's Diana Todorova, Monty Aidem, and festival creator Peter Dimitrov, who's also a musician and radio host.

Published in: on July 30, 2011 at 1:41 PM  Comments Off on A Frank Sinatra Tribute in Bulgaria