The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin'

Bill Zehme, Author, Phil Stern, Photographer
Bill Zehme, Author, Phil Stern, Photographer HarperCollins Publishers $25 (245p) ISBN 978-0-06-018289-2
Reviewed on: 12/01/1970
Release date: 11/01/1997
Frank Sinatra is that rare American icon whose lifestyle has walked hand-in-hand with his art, the one impossible without the other. Like Elvis, he has seemed intent on living out the dreams his songs inspire, capturing the American public's imagination along the way. Sinatra's irresistibly romantic sensibility is the subject of this effusive book by Zehme, coauthor of memoirs by Jay Leno and Regis Philbin. Sinatra, who has retired from performing and is famous for his hatred of the press, allowed Zehme to ask him a number of questions about his philosophy of life, such as ""How stiff should a stiff drink be?"" and ""What is the most important thing to look for in a woman?"" Zehme sprinkles the questions and Sinatra's frank answers throughout chapters with titles like ""Broads,"" ""Pallies"" and ""Ring-a-Ding-Ding."" The result is a charming, entertaining look at Sinatra's life (which only incidentally involves music here) in the guise of a straight man's guide to living well. The book begins in a rush, with a Sinatra epigram (""Let's start the action!""); the final chapters, which deal with family, heartbreak and aging, are less fun to read, and the lessons the reader is supposed to learn from them are less obvious. Zehme does here what other, music-centered biographies of Sinatra do not do: he suggests the pattern behind something as seemingly unpredictable as the events of a man's life. Zehme seems to say that, no matter what has befallen him, Sinatra has acted and reacted his way. Photographs throughout. (Dec.)
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