May 15, 1998 12:00 PM

A talent like that comes along once in a lifetime. Why in my lifetime?

—Bing Crosby

He’s the kind of guy that, when he dies, he’s going up to heaven and give God a bad time for making him bald.

—Marlon Brando

When he dies, they’re giving his zipper to the Smithsonian.

—Dean Martin

I was not impressed by the creeps and Mafia types he kept about him.

—Prince Charles

In Hoboken, when I was a kid, I lived in a plenty tough neighborhood. When somebody called me a ‘dirty little Guinea’ there was only one thing to do—break his head. When I got older, I realized you shouldn’t do it that way. I realized you’ve got to do it through education—maybe with a few exceptions.

—Frank Sinatra

Women, I don’t know what the hell to make of them, do you? Every day I know less. Maybe that’s what it’s all about. Maybe all that happens is you get older and you know less.

—Frank Sinatra

I was about to sign [Frank Sinatra] when I learned I could get an act called the Three Smoothies for the same money. Well, I wasn’t born yesterday. If I could get three people for the same money, what would I want with that skinny kid? So, I took the Smoothies. Frank has never forgotten that. Every Christmas I get a gift from him with a note thanking me for not doing for his career what I did for the Smoothies.

—George Burns

He’s the only man in town I’d be afraid to fight. I might knock him down, but he’d keep getting up until one of us was dead.

—Robert Mitchum

There have been countless words written about Frank in the past, and surely a lot more will come—but whatever they say about him, the thing I know about him is that he’s a real, complex, perplexing, loyal and generous man, and if he is in fact a son of a bitch, he’s a true one and not a pretender.

—Richard Zanuck, then president of 20th Century-Fox

Among the characteristics which impress me about Frank are his unfailing loyalty to his friends whether they are up or down, his refusal to be anybody but himself, as distinguished from other celebrities who cannot resist putting on airs, and his unfailing candor and honesty in dealing with the media.

—Richard Nixon

Just continue to print lies about me, and my temper—not my temperament—will see that you get a belt in your vicious and stupid mouth.

—Frank Sinatra, in a telegram to Hollywood columnist Erskine Johnson

He has the image of a tough guy, but he’s a very misunderstood man.

—Tony Bennett

Our driver, as it happened, was a black man, and the guy in the diner wouldn’t serve him. [Frank] reached across the counter and grabbed this nine-foot giant by the front of his shirt and said, “You’re serving coffee for three.” After a beat, the man said, “Yes.” It was a mosquito vs. a gorilla. Frank made the score with sheer force of character.

—Orson Welles, describing Sinatra’s handling of a racist waiter

I remember Frank reaming out his manager, Bobby Burns, in front of everyone one night—screaming and yelling and cursing him up one side and clown the other. He never apologized, because Frank cannot say ‘I’m sorry.’ But the next day Burns found a brand-new Cadillac in the driveway from Frank. Is that generosity or simply extravagant reparation? I don’t know.

—Mitch Miller

They fly in his plane, eat his food, drink his whiskey, get fantastic gifts, are entertained internationally, and with all the friends, he has always been a complete loner.

—attributed to a “close companion” in Look magazine, 1965

He gets the same reaction in Norway as he does in Newark!

—Steve Lawrence

One hundred times as many guys as I’ve had broads.

—Sinatra’s wish, from the stage of Caesars Palace, for his newborn granddaughter

Hell hath no fury like a hustler with a literary agent.

—Frank Sinatra

Drink, drink, drink. Smoke, smoke, smoke. Schmuck, schmuck, schmuck.

—Frank Sinatra, chastising himself, during a TV rehearsal, after having stayed out late the night before

This is my friend, and you can stick it in your ear if you don’t like it.

—Frank Sinatra, on the public furor after Sammy Davis married Mai Britt. Sinatra served as best man.

I admire his guts. I am rather astounded at the number of investigations that take place on Frank Sinatra. I find him guilty of being impulsive and a great artist.

—Kirk Douglas

Never Mind the Dog, Beware the Owner

—Sign on Sinatra residence in Rancho Mirage, Calif, circa 1980

To use if you need it.

—A note from Sinatra that accompanied a blank check sent to tough-guy actor and friend George Raft when he went on trial for tax evasion

On locations I use a mobile home to travel to the set. The first requisite is not coffee or tea or an air conditioner or a heater but a selection of Sinatra tapes for our recorder.

—John Wayne

The dago’s lousy, but the little Jew is great.

—Sinatra’s comment when he first saw Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis perform together, at the Copacabana in 1948

I think Frank is suspicious of most women. He thinks they only go for him because of who he is. That’s why he likes Nancy, his first wife. She knew him when he was nothing, and he trusts her absolutely.

—Raquel Welch

That Sinatra—no one can touch him.

—Jim Morrison, of the Doors

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