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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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 collectables: Sheet Music

If you’re looking for Frank Sinatra collectables, one of the most available items is vintage sheet music.  On ebay alone, there are currently twelve pages of Sinatra sheet music for sale, and there are many other sources on the Web as well.  Among the best known Sinatra titles, you can find copies of collectable sheet music for songs like Witchcraft, All The Way, Young At Heart, Strangers In The Night, My Way and New York, New York 

And then there are also many copies out there of lesser known songs like Paper Doll, Lily Belle, I Couldn’t Sleep A Wink Last Night, A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening and The Huckle-Buck.  All feature different photos of Frank Sinatra on the cover.

One sheet music displays two Sinatras, father and daughter, in a playful pose.  It’s  Frank and Nancy on the cover of the sheet music for their number one 60’s duet, Something Stupid

Today’s sheet music doesn’t have much color or artwork on the covers, unlike the vintage kind that had pictures of the artists and more elaborate designs, making them suitable for framing.  Of course, some of the vintage sheet music copies for sale are beat up or torn, and may have the name of a previous owner written on them, but they’re priced accordingly. 

For the higher budget, one site displays a copy of My Way autographed by FS that’s listed at a price of $1,777. 95.   Well, at least they offer free shipping. 

Witchcraft and Something Stupid from the collection of Monty Aidem, who performs a Frank Sinatra Impersonator Tribute show.

See a performance of Something Stupid at the YouTube Frank Sinatra Tribute.

Published in: on July 25, 2010 at 9:52 AM  Leave a Comment  

Actor Lee J. Cobb’s benefactor, Frank Sinatra

Lee J. Cobb and Marlon Brando

1954’s Academy Award winning best picture of the year was On the Waterfront, for which its star Marlon Brando also won the best actor award.  Brando’s co-stars included Rod Steiger, Karl Malden, Eva Marie Saint, and as the film’s memorable bad guy, actor Lee J. Cobb.

Lee J. Cobb started making movies in 1934 and continued for 42 years, through 1976.  Among his many film credits were 12 Angry Men, The Three Faces of Eve, Exodus, How The West Was Won, and The Exorcist

A low point in the life of Lee J. Cobb came when he was hounded by the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee investigating what it called communist subversion in the movie industry in the late 40’s and early 50’s.  Cobb had been named as a supposed communist, but refused to testify before the committee.  During this time, his wife suffered a mental breakdown and had to be institutionalized, and Cobb’s career nosedived.  Finally, he gave in and appeared before the committee.  Shortly after, he suffered a heart attack.

During the ordeal, Cobb credited Frank Sinatra with saving his life.  When no studio would hire Cobb, Frank got him a part in his film The Miracle of The Bells.  In addition, knowing that Cobb was broke, Frank paid his hospital bills, and then opened his home to Lee until renting him a luxurious apartment.  And what makes this generosity even more noteworthy is that Frank did all this for someone he barely even knew. 

In addition to his film roles, Lee J.  Cobb also created the stage role of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman.  And although he was known as a great dramatic actor, he was equally adept at comedy, making his mark as James Coburn’s befuddled boss in Our Man Flint and In Like Flint.  And in 1963, he co-starred in another comedy, appearing in the film version of Neil Simon’s first play, Come Blow Your Horn.  It was a part he probably enjoyed.  He co-starred with Frank Sinatra, playing Frank’s father, in spite of the fact that in real life, he was only four years older than Frank.   

From the Frank Sinatra Impersonator Blog at WordPress and the Frank Sinatra Impersonator website.

Published in: on March 14, 2010 at 8:58 PM  Leave a Comment  

A Frank Sinatra Concert Opener

If you attended a Frank Sinatra performance during most of his later years, you probably saw him open the show with I’ve Got The World On A String.  It was a great sentiment to get things underway.  The song also happened to be Sinatra’s first collaboration with his master arranger Nelson Riddle.

The song was originally heard in 1932 as part of the Cotton Club Parade, a musical production at Harlem’s famous Cotton Club, and it was introduced by Cab Calloway and Bing Crosby.  Over the years, it was recorded by artists including Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee.  More recently it was recorded by Tony Bennett, Barry Manilow and Michael Buble.  And Celine Dion, an admirer of F.S.,  performed it in her Las Vegas show from 2002 until 2007.

And, needless to say, it’s still a great opener when you’re presenting a Frank Sinatra Tribute show for the audience as a Frank Sinatra Impersonator.

Published in: on November 29, 2009 at 8:20 PM  Leave a Comment  

Becoming Frank Sinatra’s Opening Act

Tom Dreesen

Tom Dreesen

In 1982, comedian Tom Dreesen was appearing with Smokey Robinson at Caesar’s Palace in Lake Tahoe while Frank Sinatra was working a few doors away at Harrah’s.  Tom wanted a chance to see Frank’s show up-close, so he called over to Harrah’s, where he had worked with  Sammy Davis Jr. and asked if he could watch the show from backstage.

When he arrived, he was called over by Harrah’s executive Holmes Hendricksen, who was standing with another man.  Hendricksen said “Tommy, this is Mickey Rudin”, who Tom recognized as Frank’s lawyer and manager.  Then Hendricksen said “Mickey, this is Tom Dreesen.  I think Tom would make a great opening act for Frank”.  Rudin, to be funny, said “Hey kid, if I gave you a week with Frank, would you want more than $50,000?”  Tom said “Let me put it this way, Mr. Rudin.  If you gave me a week with Frank, would you want more than $50,000?”  Rudin burst out laughing and said “I like this kid”. 

A few days later, Tom’s manager got a call, and before long, Tom was preceding Frank on stage in Atlantic City.  Following his second performance, Frank invited Tom to join him and his wife Barbara for dinner.  In the middle of the meal, Frank put down his knife and fork and said “I like your material and I like your style.  I’d like you to do a few other dates with me if you’re interested”.   

Dreesen Sinatra250  And that led to an exciting job that lasted fourteen years, and a warm personal relationship that lasted  until Frank’s passing in 1998.   Tom and Frank are pictured together here.

For this writer and Frank Sinatra Impersonator, it’s great to have a friend like Tom Dreesen, a Sinatra confidant, and one of America’s finest comedians.

Published in: on July 19, 2009 at 1:01 AM  Leave a Comment  
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