The Sinatra Files: The Secret FBI Dossier

Tom Kuntz, Editor, Phil Kuntz, Editor
Tom Kuntz, Editor, Phil Kuntz, Editor Three Rivers Press (CA) $19 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8129-3276-8
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-307-55974-6
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Frank Sinatra, with his mob ties, his ardent New Deal politics and his friendship with John F. Kennedy, was a natural target for J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, which spied on countless citizens. The Bureau's secret 1,275-page dossier on the singer was released in 1998 in response to Freedom of Information Act requests. This compilation of excerpts, supplemented by other declassified documents and explanatory commentary, certainly shocks. Sinatra fans will be livid to learn how their idol was spied on, harassed, even smeared by the FBI over the years. Journalist brothers Tom Kuntz and Phil Kuntz (of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, respectively) present evidence that scandalmongering journalists fed the bureau unsubstantiated, damaging rumors that the FBI pursued; in exchange, the FBI occasionally doled out dirt on Sinatra to the press. Charting the crooner's metamorphosis from prominent supporter of left-leaning causes to conservative campaigner for Reagan and Nixon, this dossier reveals that for a year Hoover investigated Sinatra's alleged Communist affiliations, but came up empty-handed. The FBI documents provide many glimpses of Sinatra's associations with mobsters, his rendezvous with prostitutes, his extramarital affair with Ava Gardner (who became his second wife). Readers learn that the budding star, to get an exemption from military service, told draft-board doctors that he had an irrational fear of crowds. Dean Martin, Marilyn Monroe, JFK, Peter Lawford, Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana and his girlfriend, singer Phyllis McGuire, also turn up in these memos and transcripts. The book's most explosive sections reveal the sleazy underside of Camelot. Photos not seen by PW. (July)
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