Over the years, many things have been associated with Christmas. Music is perhaps one of the focal points of the festive season, and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas will certainly be on repeat. The man who sang the song, known as the chairman of the board and nicknamed Ol’ Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra, has become something of a Christmas legend.
His personality, many argue, could defy this: he was seen as indifferent and steely, known as much for his efforts to drink to excess as he was for his musical talent.
Throughout his career, the singer, who passed away in 1998, released numerous songs and albums with Christmas at their heart, including the 1948 release, Sinatra Christmas Songs.
On it were eight traditional Christmas songs, including the legendary White Christmas, a song he first recorded four years earlier, and O Little Town of Bethlehem, reputedly the president’s favorite song.
His daughter Nancy, who has forged her own brilliant music career, commented on how much her father loved the holiday season during an interview with Variety magazine in 2017.
He observed that “nobody embraced Christmas like [Sinatra] He did it”, describing how all his friends would “come over late on Christmas Eve, after a night of revelry, and just throw tinsel on the tree”.
She continued: “And my mom and I would undo it afterwards and make it into what you see in those pictures.”
Tina, Sinatra’s youngest daughter, also spoke about the tradition, adding: “Things got a little awry. But that tree was my mother’s pride and joy. She and Nancy, like goofballs, just stood there for I don’t know. how many hours.adding a few strands at a time.
“I used to be amazed that they had the patience, but they did. Dad used to be there on Christmas Eve night, with (songwriter) Jimmy Van Heusen or some friend, and that also used to be when what I call the ‘little’ the elves would get naughty. The next morning they would still be there.”
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Later, he signed a multimillion-dollar contract with ABC to headline The Frank Sinatra Show, a drama and variety series, and when Christmas rolled around, things got festive.
The deal closed in 1957, and when Sinatra took over to run the show, he made sure to include a special holiday episode. The show’s producer, William Self, spoke about the singer’s influence at the Museum of Television and Radio in 2003.
Mr Self continued: “He was a guerrilla, if he wanted to lead, [he would direct]. It was Frank’s idea to do a Christmas show with Bing. [Crosby]. He had a lot of respect for Bing…they got along really well, and Frank just said, ‘I’m going to run it,’ and I said, ‘Yes, sir!'”
Crosby is another Hollywood and music legend who is remembered as one of the Godfathers of Christmas, thanks to his version of White Christmas.
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Released in 1942, the iconic classic not only won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, but sold an estimated 50 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling single in history.
Tina also noted how much Christmas meant to her father and discussed it further with her sister Nancy.
After Nancy showed her a photo of her father on the Christmas special, Tina said, “I think this show exemplifies that he loved this time of year.”
Even after Sinatra divorced his first wife, and the children’s mother, Nancy, in 1951, the My Way hitmaker continued to put Christmas firmly at the center of his family’s holiday plans.
Nancy continued, “We’d spend Christmas Eve and the morning in Los Angeles and then drive to [Palm Springs] in the afternoon and spend Christmas night there. Families that are divorced usually have that kind of tradition.”
Tina added: “Mom often came over (to the desert) too and she was always very friendly and family-oriented.”
But Nancy recalled a “particular Christmas in Las Vegas” when she was with her husband, dancer and choreographer Hugh Lambert, in town for two Christmas Eve shows.
She added: “Dad sent his plane for us. The last show was at midnight, so when we got to Palm Springs it was probably 3, and we were really tired. When we got to the airport, we saw a small crowd on the runway. It turned out to be mom and dad and a mariachi band, singing ‘Jingle Bells’ as we got off the plane.”
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