How Frank Sinatra Went from Skinny Kid to Pop Idol

Learn how MCA acquired Frank Sinatra—even though he was under contract to someone else—in a deal that was fantastic even for show business.

A young Frank Sinatra and a microphone
(Wikimedia Commons)

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Early talent spotters dismissed Frank Sinatra as a “skinny, funny looking guy,” not noticing how he always made the girls in the audience swoon.  As David G. Wittels points out in his 1946 article in the Post, “The smart boys apparently chalked him off as one of those freaks, riding briefly on the popularity of a band.”

Slowly, however, they started to catch on. Wittels writes:

Emanuel (Manny) Sacks, vice-president in charge of talent for the Columbia Recording Corporation…heard Sinatra in California in 1940 and then watched the reaction of the audience when Sinatra sang with Dorsey’s band in the Earle Theater in Philadelphia in 1941. Sacks somewhat resembles Sinatra, and on that day he was wearing a bow tie. When he left the theater, scores of young girls, screaming, ” Frankie! Frankie! ” almost literally tore his clothes off.

Wittels’ story details how the music giant MCA missed The Voice the first time around, but didn’t make that same mistake twice, using hardball tactics to lure him from another agency.

Sinatra, who had been making $150 a week, was soon making $1 million a year.

Read “Star-Spangled Octopus” from the August 24, 1946, issue of the Post.

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