cover image SINATRA: An Intimate Portrait of a Very Good Year

SINATRA: An Intimate Portrait of a Very Good Year

Richard B. Stolley, John Dominis, , photos by John Dominis. . Stewart Tabori & Chang, $35 (144pp) ISBN 978-1-58479-246-8

Frank Sinatra generally didn't grant photojournalists an opportunity to follow him around for an evening, let alone four months. But in 1965, at the height of Sinatra's career return, Life magazine's Dominis was given the chance to shadow Sinatra, and this series of portraits (many of which Life had never before released) offers a surprisingly candid, human look at the great entertainer. In his brief intro, Dominis explains how he eased his way into Sinatra's life: "For the first few days after we were introduced, I didn't even carry a camera. I wanted to play it real cool." He first began by asking permission to take pictures—never using a flash—until he became almost invisible. And, indeed, these photos are rare glimpses into Sinatra's personal life. One series shows a self-consciously balding Sinatra shaving, with his head wrapped in a turban (forceps scars clearly visible below his ears); another shows him thin in his briefs and white tube socks, lying on a massage table. Intense photos of Sinatra performing are interspersed with photos of him noshing on hot dogs with the likes of Tony Bennett, Jilly Rizzo and a cigarette girl. Dominis's photos depict a suave Sinatra brainstorming with Count Basie and Quincy Jones (Stolley writes that while Sinatra told racist jokes as part of his routine, "The singer deplores racism and will not allow the n-word to be used in his presence"). Though they are revealing, these photos further deepen Sinatra's mystique. (Dec.)