by Sandi Berg
Attention all Sinatra fans! Frank Sinatra once confided in daughter Nancy Sinatra that if he had a second chance, he wouldn’t have left her mother for Ava Gardner, she says in an interview with Mo Rocca for CBS Sunday Morning With Charles Osgood.
Sinatra and the former Nancy Barbato married in 1939. But he made headlines when he left Nancy to be with film star Ava Gardner. Sinatra and Gardner married in 1951. The marriage of the two Hollywood heavyweights lasted only two years, leaving Frank devastated, daughter Nancy tells Rocca. “I asked him once if he had it to do all over again, would he leave mom for Ava? And he said, ‘no,’” Nancy tells Rocca.
After Sinatra and Gardner split, he poured his heart into his music, Nancy said. “I think he hit rock bottom pretty much at that period, in terms of work and emotion,” she said. “And it was tough.”
Her mother, who is now 97 years old, had one great love of her life, Nancy tells Rocca, and that was her father, who would have turned 100 this year. Nancy and her sister, Tina, recently helped turn a hall at the University of Southern California into an exhibit of Frank Sinatra history.
“He had an appeal to both men and women,” Tina tells Rocca. “I think that men could identify with him. My mother always said, ‘And women wanted to feed him.’ That’s one way of putting it.”
Frank Sinatra, Jr., who served as his father’s musical director, said the common denominator with Sinatra was truth. “When Sinatra sang, you believed him,” he said.
Nancy, Tina and Frank Sinatra, Jr. also share with Rocca stories about their father’s career, his generosity, working with their legendary father, and life away from the cameras.
Sandi Berg is also a freelance journalist and writes about television for several magazines including Written By (Writer’s Guild of America), Life After 50 and Whole Life Times Magazine.