The Sinatra Trail

Michael Freedland presents a four-part series looking at the life of Frank Sinatra as seen through the eyes of those who knew him.

It's a tiny tombstone sunken into the ground.

Once a fortnight, someone comes and puts flowers on the grave.

Another visitor regularly makes the outline of a heart - with copper cents.

Above it, a small American flag.

The inscription is very simple: Francis Albert Sinatra, 1915-1998.

And the words: "The best is yet to come."

With the song of that title, we will begin our journey along the Sinatra Trail - the journey that the Chairman of the Board took during his 83 years of life.

The Trail in this story is the one that was viewed by 'fairly' ordinary people who will tell of their connection with Ol' Blue Eyes.

This will not be a series featuring stars, the obvious names of a few remaining contemporaries who like to think some of Sinatra's glory will rub off on them.

Instead, accompanied by appropriate music, Frank's biographer Michael Freedland will talk to people whose lives were influenced by him - even if he did not know it himself.

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Michael Freedland presents a four-part series looking at the life of Frank Sinatra as seen through the eyes of those who knew him.

It's a tiny tombstone sunken into the ground.

Once a fortnight, someone comes and puts flowers on the grave.

Another visitor regularly makes the outline of a heart - with copper cents.

Above it, a small American flag.

The inscription is very simple: Francis Albert Sinatra, 1915-1998.

And the words: "The best is yet to come."

With the song of that title, we will begin our journey along the Sinatra Trail - the journey that the Chairman of the Board took during his 83 years of life.

The Trail in this story is the one that was viewed by 'fairly' ordinary people who will tell of their connection with Ol' Blue Eyes.

This will not be a series featuring stars, the obvious names of a few remaining contemporaries who like to think some of Sinatra's glory will rub off on them.

Instead, accompanied by appropriate music, Frank's biographer Michael Freedland will talk to people whose lives were influenced by him - even if he did not know it himself.Michael starts his journey at Frank's birthplace - Hoboken, New Jersey - and talks to former Hoboken mayor Steve Cappiello, restaurateur Joe Spacavento, longshoreman Tom Kennedy and Hoboken historian Bill Miller.

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Michael visits Grimaldi's Coal Brick Oven restaurant where Sinatra would go for his favourite pizza - and Frank's granddaughter AJ Azzarto pops in.

He crosses the Hudson river to New York to soak up the Sinatra magic from some of the bobbysoxers who screamed for him at the Paramount Theatre and chats with his accompanist Monty Alexander.

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Michael heads for Las Vegas and talks to Sinatra's pianist and musical director Vincent Falcone.

He also goes to Sinatra's former country club at Lake Tahoe and chats to the owner of Cal Neva, Bill Hanley, as well as to Frank's barber Gaetano Benza.

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Michael goes to Hollywood to talk to James Bacon, the doyen of local columnists, and to chat with Gloria Franks, widow of one of Frank's favourite songwriters, Sammy Cahn.

At the end of the trail in Palm Springs, Michael walks around the Sinatra house with butler George Jacobs, and visits the cemetery where the singer is buried.