Francis Albert Sinatra was an American singer who is considered one of the finest vocalists of all time, renowned for his impeccable phrasing and timing. Many critics place him alongside Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley and The Beatles as one of the most important popular music figures of the 20th century.
Sinatra launched a second career as a dramatic film actor, and became admired for a screen persona distinctly tougher than his smooth singing style. Sinatra also had a larger-than-life presence in the public eye, and as The Chairman of the Board became an American icon, known for his brash, sometimes swaggering attitude, as embodied by his signature song My Way.
He was born in Hoboken, New Jersey. He was the only child of a quiet Sicilian fireman father, Anthony Martin Sinatra (1894-1969). Anthony had emigrated to the United States in 1895. His mother, Natalie Della Gavarante (1896-1977), was a talented, tempestuous Ligurian, who worked as a part-time abortionist. She was known as Dolly, and emigrated in 1897. Although it is part of the Sinatra folklore that Frank had an impoverished childhood, he was actually brought up in middle-class surroundings, due to his father's secure job as a fireman, and his mother's strong political ties in Hoboken.
Frank Sinatra decided to become a singer after hearing Bing Crosby on the radio. He began singing in small clubs in New Jersey and eventually attracted the attention of trumpeter and band-leader Harry James.
After a brief stint with James, he joined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra in 1940 where he rose to fame as a singer. His vast appeal to the bobby soxers, as teenage girls were called, revealed a whole new audience for popular music, which had appealed mainly to adults up to that time. It was as a featured singer with Dorsey that Sinatra made his earliest film appearances, such as the 1942 Eleanor Powell/Red Skelton comedy, ''Ship Ahoy'' in which the uncredited singer performed a couple of songs.He later signed with Columbia Records as a solo artist with some success, particularly during the musicians' recording strikes. Vocalists were not part of the musician union and were allowed to record during the ban by using ''a capella'' vocal backing. Sinatra's singing career was in decline in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Sinatra had begun appearing in movies in the early 1940s, but usually in musicals, often undistinguished ones. He also appeared on a weekly television show on CBS for two years from 1950-1952 (and would try again for one year on ABC from 1957-1958). Sinatra then launched a second career as a full-fledged dramatic actor by playing scrappy Pvt. Angelo Maggio in eve-of-Pearl Harbor drama ''From Here to Eternity'' (1953), for which he won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. This role and performance became legendary at the time as the key comeback moment in Sinatra's career.