One-time model, showgirl, and widow of Ol' Blue Eyes Barbara Sinatra, 90, has died. She died earlier today.
Barbara eked out a living trying to support herself and her young son modeling and I believe even ran some kind of school, if I remember correctly reading her autobiography Lady Blue Eyes. While some would criticize her for being a golddigger, she did what many women of that era did because there weren't a lot of options. I cut Barbara a lot of slack here and didn't condemn her.
Sometime in the 1950s Barbara met and then married agent Zeppo Marx, who as we all know was the youngest of the Marx Brothers and was in their first five films, all made at Paramount (and were their best films). As I recall, he adopted her son. On the other hand, I think I remember reading something he didn't (it could have been Tina Sinatra's book), but her son took the last name of Marx. She was a great-looking woman, tall, thin, and blond, and she could have had any man out there she wanted, but she picked the rather nondescript Zeppo. Things went along okay for quite a few years, but she gradually took a liking to one of her neighbors, Frank Sinatra. They became friends, and by the early 1970s became more than friends. Zeppo simply couldn't compete with the much-younger Frank, who was 11 years older than Barbara but certainly closer to her own age.
The pair, Frank and Barbara, later shacked up and in 1976 got married. It was quite a feat nabbing Ol' Blue Eyes, one of the most infamous womanizers in show business history. But Frank didn't know what he was getting into. He had no idea she was more formidable than he was. Once she got her claws into him, it was all over for him. She kept him on a very tight leash. She was always with him when he toured all over the country in concerts. However, she didn't get along with his three children. If readers of this blog read Tina Sinatra's account of the marriage, Barbara Sinatra was the stepmother from hell. Barbara, on the other hand, mentioned the children only in passing in her own book. What she didn't say said a lot more than the little she did say.
I have to say reading Barbara's book that she did present a side of Sinatra not known to the general public. He loved animals, particularly dogs. The pair had numerous dogs over the years, especially Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, but Frank was known to adopt the occasional stray dog. He was also a great cook, whipping up his favorite Italian dishes. She said he couldn't stand for women to smoke, so she gave it up many years ago. His drinking wasn't a huge issue, except when he drank gin. She wrote at that point she would lock herself in her room because he could be very mean.
In the years after she married Frank, she busied herself with charitable causes, including cofounding with Frank the noted Barbara Sinatra Childrens Center, which is devoted to helping abused children. It is highly regarded. She was also involved in a long battle with his three children over his estate.
With her husband’s help, Ms. Sinatra founded the center in 1986 as a nonprofit organization to provide therapy and other support to young victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse.
In the years since, Mr. Thoresen said, more than 20,000 children have been treated at the center, in Rancho Mirage, and hundreds of thousands more throughout the world through videos it provides.