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Thread: Sinatra: An American Original (1965)

  1. #1

    Sinatra: An American Original (1965)

    Broadcast 16th November 1965 on CBS

    TV Documentary

    Host : Walter Cronkite

    Includes Interviews and features "September Of My Years" recording sessions. specifically "It Was a Very Good Year" which features much of interest with regards to Sinatra studio techniques.

    Also features a young Nancy Sinatra "enjoying" (if that's the right word) a dinner with Frank and his friends.

    Music includes : Fly Me To The Moon & You Make Me Feel So Young
    sooner or later we all make the little flowers grow

  2. #2

    Sinatra: Off The Record

    I vaguely remember this TV special from 1965, I was 16 and probably didn't watch it. I just got the tape today and what a treat it was!

    I sat open mouthed and mesmerized for 45 minutes. Frank must have sung at least 5 complete songs, including the complete recording studio rendition of 'It Was A Very Good Year'. It was facinating watching and listening to what went on in the studio in 1965. The sound is great on this B/W tape, too bad you can't see his blue eyes.

    There is some great footage of Nancy talking about her father. FS answers a lot of questions asked by interviewer Walter Cronkite. I just loved the whole thing, it was fantastic. Its Frank as I remember him, at the top of his career.

    My question is, why did he do it? He let CBS follow him around for 6 months with a camera and a sound crew. He didn't need the publicity. He certainly never did it again after 1965. One thing I liked is they didn't edit it to pieces like they do now. It wasn't 14 different shots every 30 seconds, it had continuity, it told a story.

    This is a priceless piece of FS history and I'm amazed that I had never seen it. I'll watch it again and again. Nancy looks like a breakable porcelain doll, what a cutie..

  3. #3

    1965 CBS documentary

    Phil, I recorded that in 1998 when CBS re-played it on a Dateline special and I just last week reviewed it for the first time in nearly seven you said, it's great stuff and "must see" for any Frank fan. p.s. Is your Mrs. a fan also??
    When You're Here, It's Family

  4. #4
    it's great stuff and "must see" for any Frank fan. p.s. Is your Mrs. a fan also??>>

    Its better than great stuff, it really a snapshot of FS from 1965 and I'm so glad he did it. I feel like I've discovered buried treasure today, and it wasn't really buried at all. Thanks to Sarbo for telling me about it. (now he'll want something from me in return. I'm afraid, very afraid..)

    My wife is into all the new age churchy music crap that I can't stand. She knows this, so of course she hates anything I like just for spite. Her father and brother are Baptist ministers and she used to be the pianist in her church. Oh well..

  5. #5
    When the TV special, which was called "Sinatra-An American Original" was screened on November 16, 1965 at 10pm on CBS, it became the only broadcast ever to outrate the popular series "The Fugitive" at primetime, by number of people watching.


  6. #6


    Phil, it seems that Frank Sinatra granted a lot of access to writers and other media sources during his 50th birthday year. Early in that year, there was the LIFE magazine feature article that he contributed himself, with the title "Sinatra Sounds Off." There was also the lengthy ESQUIRE magazine feature story late in the year in which he allowed Gay Talese to follow him over the course of several days, if not weeks, in many of his social situations, from recording studio to nightclub to NBC for the production of "A Man and HIs Music." The Talese feature, "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold," was printed several times in many publications since the original publication in Esquire. And then there was the CBS special you describe, which aired in the fall of 1965 before the airing of "A Man and His Music" on NBC.

    It seems Mr. Sinatra wanted his activities within this 50th year to be well documented. When you evaluate the general themes of "September of My Years," it was almost as if he werre dealing with his own mortality. That must have played a profound role in his granting of access in 1965. One of the most interesting aspects of the CBS show is the closing credits, in which the writer of the documentary is identified as "Andrew Rooney."

    Best regards,

    Russell Kishi
    Glendale, California

  7. #7

    Thumbs up

    Yep, it's a real treat! I taped it in late '98 when it was on PBS one night. I too am glad to have it.

  8. #8

    Sinatra Off the Record

    You Guys,

    I just had a couple of friends buy me a book called :

    It is put together by the guys that did that LIFE magazine
    spread back on Franks 50th Birthday....
    Photographs by John Domis and Text by Richard B. Stolley.
    They followed him around for 6 or more months.

    It is a fabulous Book.



  9. #9

    "He allowed Gay Talese to follow him"

    I don't think so. Talese was not granted an interview and decided himself to follow Sinatra around and try to talk to Sinatra's associates.

  10. #10


    Thanks for the iinput, Ron. It has been awhile since I read this rather lengthy feature. I stand corrected on that. I was thinking of a passage in the story describing a late night recording session, and it was my memory of that description that created the thought in my mind that access was granted. I believe my memory is correct that Talese described the attendees at that recording session, including the late Don Drysdale, who was still a member of the Dodger pitching staff at the time. I have vague recollections also of Talese describing situations leading up to the taping of "A Man and HIs Music,' which also led me to recall that this was a result of free access to Mr. Sinatra.

    Best regards,

    Russell Kishi
    Glendale, California

  11. #11
    I agree as well. it is GREAT! I was in a suncoast video store about 3 years ago, I rarely looked at VCR as I was buying everything on DVD, I looked over and saw it, bought it and LOVED IT!

  12. #12

    Is it on video?

    I would love to see this...was it released on video?



  13. #13
    yes it was release on video but never on cd

  14. #14
    A recent thread in the "general FS section" discussing this show:


  15. #15
    bumping as merging seems to have removed the thread from TV section. Thanks.
    sooner or later we all make the little flowers grow

  16. #16

    believe this picture may belong here

    as indicated elsewhere it may relate to the period of the shows shooting.

    sooner or later we all make the little flowers grow

  17. #17
    The above photo, as mentioned on the other thread, is from John Dominis' "Sinatra - An Intimate Portrait Of A Very Good Year" (published in 2002). Dominis followed around Sinatra for several weeks in 1965, quite similar to the CBS project that lead to the TV special, doing many photos intended for the famous special edition of LIFE magazine that year.

    I don't remember offhand if the above scene (FS watching a TV performance of his son Frank jr.) also appears on the CBS special.


  18. #18
    Hi Marty,

    on quick-scan I couldn't detect the scene in the CBS special... anyway, sorry for the double-entry, I didn't realise this here thread on the CBS TV special now winds up in the general FS section, I think it should be transferred to the Sinatra TV section.


  19. Phil,

    You Hit the nail on the head, this is who Sinatra truly is an amazing Man, who truly is to Genius for some to understand. I saw it and loved it.

  20. #20

    Cool 1965

    you are so right phil...i also noticed the continuity of this piece and loved it. i really hate how they do stuff these days. wish the powers at be would also take notice and see how much better these projects would be if they revirted back a step or two.

    vinny b.