October 06, 1975 12:00 PM

“We know it’s a great party,” said Frank Sinatra, kicking off a Democratic fundraiser on the eve of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in January 1961. “Who else could run up a debt of $2 million in three months without a credit card?” For his services as emcee, the not-so-Old Blue Eyes was allowed to take the gloved hand of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, new First Lady, at the star-studded “Inaugural Gala” in Washington’s National Guard Armory (top).

Alack-a-day, in time rumors about his unsavory connections got Sinatra banished from Camelot. Never mind. When the other party came back to rule, the fading Voice was prominent among the court entertainers of Richard M. and Spiro and the California baron, Ronald.

A sometime queen can forgive and forget. For there they were again, entering New York’s “21” Club, one living legend on the arm of another—Jackie Onassis, widow of President and Greek shipping magnate, and Sinatra, Italian-American tough guy and unmatchable artist. The occasion was an edible encore to Sinatra’s triumphant return to Broadway after 35 years. With two other musical immortals, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie, the erstwhile kid from Hoboken had rewritten White Way history with a record gate of $1,088,000 in two weeks.

Why had the frequently retired Sinatra risked it? “He’s broke,” whispered a crony. “Those Vegas gambling debts!” Jackie, too, had a remedy for the kind of poverty peculiar to the very rich. Rather than struggle along on the $250,000 annuity Ari left her, she has taken an estimated $200-a-week job as a consulting editor with Viking Press. But, bottom line aside, for a moment they were the top.

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