Frank Sinatra's Death: The Aftermath, And How Seinfeld Was Involved
Left: Frank Sinatra sings on his 75th birthday. Right: Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Michael Richards in the 'Seinfeld' finale. Sources: Bettmann via Getty Images; IMDB.
The night Frank Sinatra died, America was busy watching Seinfeld. It was May 14, 1998, and Ol' Blue Eyes was going to the great Vegas showroom in the sky, but nobody could win this ratings battle -- Sinatra's finale vs. the Seinfeld finale. Talk around the office watercooler the following day wasn't focused on the Chairman of the Board, it was all about Seinfeld's bizarre and controversial ending, which found the show's characters arrested in a small town and put on trial for failing to help a person being mugged. Sinatra got his due, belatedly, as the unsatisfying (to many viewers) sitcom finale was quickly forgotten and the monumental career of the beloved entertainer became the subject of tributes and celebrity comments.
Over the last several years of his life, Sinatra was hospitalized for heart and breathing problems, pneumonia, high blood pressure, and bladder cancer. He had also been diagnosed with dementia. However, his former manager said that the antidepressant he was on for years, Elavil, was responsible for his failing health. He continued to believe that he would continue to live. Five days before Frank Sinatra’s death in 1998, he asked his daughter Tina how much longer it would be until the new millennium,. When she responded that it was coming in 18 months, he said he could do that; he was determined to celebrate it despite his health problems. However, he died at the age of 82 on May 14. The cause of death: a heart attack.
Sinatra Died On The Night Of The Seinfeld Finale
On the night he died, the Seinfeld finale was being aired. Much of the country was home watching the two-hour spectacle of two back-to-back episodes "The Chronicle" and "The Finale." The west coast feed was airing at the precise time an ambulance was racing to Sinatra's home to pick him up and spirit him to Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Traffic on the highways was therefore quite light, and the ambulance was able to pick up Sinatra and arrive at Cedars-Sinai in record time. He arrived at the hospital around 9 p.m. Once there, the doctors tried for over an hour to save him, but to no avail. His wife Barbara was by his side. Reportedly, he spoke his final words, “I’m losing,” to Barbara. Reports differ as to whether his children were there as well. According to some reports, Barbara did not tell his children that he had been hospitalized. According to his daughter Tina, she received a call from Rex Kennamer at 11:10 p.m. to inform her of his death. She called Nancy, and they drove to the hospital.
The World Grieved
His death led to an outpouring of grief from fans as well as friends, as varied as Bill Clinton and Bono, who said “Frank Sinatra was the twentieth-century, he was modern, he was complex, he had swing and he had attitude. He was the boss but he was always Frank Sinatra. We won’t see his like again.” President Clinton spoke to reporters about his death, remarking, “I think every American would have to smile and say he really did it his way.” New York City and Las Vegas honored him the night after his death: the lights on the Empire State Building were illuminated blue, and the lights on the Las Vegas Strip were dimmed for him. The casinos also stopped spinning for a minute.
Six days after his death, his funeral was held at Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills. There were 400 people in attendance at the church, as well as thousands outside during the service. Sinatra’s son, Frank Jr., as well as Gregory Peckand Tony Bennett spoke during the service. At the end of the service, they played “Put Your Dreams Away”. He was buried in a blue business suit with a bottle of Jack Daniels, a pack of Camels, a zippo, and a roll of dimes, as well as other mementos at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City under a gravestone that says “The best is yet to come.” Incidentally, that was also the last song that he ever performed live, at his final concert in 1995, at the Palm Desert Marriott Ballroom in California.
His Story Lives On
After his death, Billboard reported an increase in his record sales. In Hoboken, the Frank Sinatra Memorial Park was opened, and there is a walking tour of Sinatra related sites in the city, including his birthplace.
Tags: Frank Sinatra | Jerry Seinfeld | RIP (Famous Deaths) | Seinfeld | 1990s News
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