Frank Sinatra Has a Cold

"Frank Sinatra Has a Cold" is a profile of Frank Sinatra written by Gay Talese for the April 1966 issue of Esquire.[1] The article is one of the most famous pieces of magazine journalism ever written and is often considered not only the greatest profile of Frank Sinatra[2] but one of the greatest celebrity profiles ever written.[3][4][5] The profile is one of the seminal works of New Journalism and is still widely read, discussed and studied.[6][7] In the 70th anniversary issue of Esquire in October 2003, the editors declared the piece the "Best Story Esquire Ever Published".[1][8] Vanity Fair called it "the greatest literary-nonfiction story of the 20th century".[4]

Esquire Magazine Sinatra Has a Cold
The cover to Gay Talese's profile


Talese had spent the first ten years of his career at The New York Times. He felt restricted by the limitations of newspaper writing[4] and began searching for jobs with magazines. In 1965, he signed a one-year, six-story contract with Esquire magazine.[7] His first assignment from Esquire editor Harold Hayes was to write a profile of Frank Sinatra. It was a difficult assignment; Sinatra had turned down interview requests from Esquire for years.[3]

Sinatra was about to turn 50 and in the spotlight. Sinatra's relationship with 20-year-old Mia Farrow was constantly in the news. A CBS television documentary had upset Sinatra, who felt that his life was being pried into, and he was unhappy about speculation in the documentary about his connection to Mafia leaders. He was also worried about his starring role in an upcoming NBC show named after his album, A Man and His Music, and his various business ventures in real estate, his film company, his record label, and an airline. At the time, Sinatra maintained a personal staff of 75.[1]

Sinatra refused to be interviewed for the profile.[4][7] Rather than give up, Talese spent the three months, beginning in November 1965, following Sinatra and observing everything he could and interviewing any members of his entourage who were willing to speak.[6] Esquire paid nearly $5,000 in expenses over the duration of the story.[3] Talese was uncertain whether the story could be finished, but ultimately concluded, in a letter to Harold Hayes, that "I may not get the piece we'd hoped for—the real Frank Sinatra but perhaps, by not getting it—and by getting rejected constantly and by seeing his flunkies protecting his flanks—we will be getting close to the truth about the man."[4] Without Talese ever receiving Sinatra's cooperation, the story was published in April 1966.


Gay Talese by David Shankbone
Gay Talese in 2006

The profile begins with Sinatra in a sullen mood at a private Hollywood club. Stressed about all the events in his life, Sinatra, and many of his staff, are in a poor mood because Sinatra is afflicted by the common cold, hampering his ability to sing. The significance of the cold is expressed by Talese in one of the story's most famous passages:[4]

Sinatra with a cold is Picasso without paint, Ferrari without fuel—only worse. For the common cold robs Sinatra of that uninsurable jewel, his voice, cutting into the core of his confidence, and it affects not only his own psyche but also seems to cause a kind of psychosomatic nasal drip within dozens of people who work for him, drink with him, love him, depend on him for their own welfare and stability. A Sinatra with a cold can, in a small way, send vibrations through the entertainment industry and beyond as surely as a President of the United States, suddenly sick, can shake the national economy.[1]

The style of narrative writing, in this passage and throughout the piece, was alien to journalism at the time, and was considered the province of fiction writing.[6] Only a few other authors, such as Tom Wolfe, were using such techniques in journalistic writing. The piece employed techniques like scenes, dialogue and third-person narrative that were common in fiction, but still rare in journalism.[7]

While Sinatra was near the heights of his fame in the 1960s the world of music was changing. The arrival of bands like the Beatles and the accompanying cultural change was threatening to Sinatra.[4] This is illustrated in a scene with the writer Harlan Ellison who is wearing Game Warden boots, corduroy slacks, a Shetland sweater and a tan suede jacket in a club. Sinatra confronts and insults Ellison about his clothing. After Ellison is cajoled into leaving the room, Sinatra tells the assistant manager, "I don't want anybody in here without coats and ties."[1]

Though never speaking with Sinatra, Talese cast light on the singer's mercurial personality and internal turmoil. The story also detailed Sinatra's relationship with his children and his former wives, Nancy Barbato and Ava Gardner. Through a series of scenes and anecdotes, focusing on the people surrounding Sinatra, the article "reveals the inner workings of the climate-controlled biosphere the singer had constructed around himself—and the inhospitable atmosphere coalescing outside its shell."[4]

The article ends with a passage indirectly demonstrating Sinatra's unquenchable thirst to remain relevant:[4]

Frank Sinatra stopped his car. The light was red. Pedestrians passed quickly across his windshield but, as usual, one did not. It was a girl in her twenties. She remained at the curb staring at him. Through the corner of his left eye he could see her, and he knew, because it happens almost every day, that she was thinking, It looks like him, but is it? Just before the light turned green, Sinatra turned toward her, looked directly into her eyes waiting for the reaction he knew would come. It came and he smiled. She smiled and he was gone.[1]

Influence on New Journalism

The article was an instant sensation. The journalist Michael Kinsley has said, "It's hard to imagine a magazine article today having the kind of impact that [this] article and others had in those days in terms of everyone talking about it purely on the basis of the writing and the style."[6]

After Tom Wolfe popularized the term "New Journalism" in his 1973 anthology The New Journalism, Talese's piece became widely studied and imitated.[7]

The piece is often contrasted to modern magazine profiles in which the writers spend little time with their subjects or when writers fabricate elements of their story, such as Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, or Janet Cooke.[3][5][6]

Talese has come to reject the label of "New Journalism" for this reason. He told NPR: "The term new journalism became very fashionable on college campuses in the 1970s and some of its practitioners tended to be a little loose with the facts. And that's where I wanted to part company. I came up with the New York Times as a copy boy and later on became a reporter and I so revered the traditions of the Times in being accurate."[6]

The story continues to receive acclaim and is cited by Talese as one of his best works.[9][10] The story, which continues to be widely read, has been republished in multiple anthologies.[9][11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Without question, picking The Best Story Esquire Ever Published is a fool's errand..." Esquire. 2003-10-01. Archived from the original on 2008-07-05. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
  2. ^ "The Master's Voice". The Economist. 2005-07-16.
  3. ^ a b c d "King of the day-glo, stiff-spined, wise-guy shiny sheets; In the world of glossy magazines, Esquire was to the 1960s what Vanity Fair was to the 1980s — the wittiest chronicler of its time". The Independent. 1997-02-08. Archived from the original on 2007-11-25. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Frank DiGiacomo (January 2007). "The Esquire Decade". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
  5. ^ a b Peter Carlson (2001-05-22). "Esquire's Celebrity Dish: Artificial Flavoring". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Writer's Story on Sinatra Sparked a New Genre of Reporting". Day to Day on National Public Radio. 2003-09-09. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Lecture: Gay Talese". NYU Bullpen. Archived from the original on 2007-02-05. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
  8. ^ Charles McGrath (2006-04-23). "Notes From Underground". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
  9. ^ a b Gay Talese (2004). Retha Powers and Kathy Kiernan, ed. This Is My Best; Great Writers Share Their Favorite Work. San Francisco, California: Chronicle Books. pp. 480–516. ISBN 0-8118-4829-9.
  10. ^ "So What Do You Do, Gay Talese?". 2004-04-27. Retrieved 2007-05-22.
  11. ^ "Greatest! stories! ever! sort of: Esquire celebrates its best in a new book 70 years in the making". Ottawa Citizen. 2004-01-11.

External links

All-Time Greatest Dorsey/Sinatra Hits, Vol. 1-4

All Time Greatest Hits, Vol. 1-4 are four compilation albums, issued by RCA of early 1940s Tommy Dorsey tracks featuring Frank Sinatra.

The albums contain hits such as "I'll Never Smile Again" and "I'll Be Seeing You".

Concerts of Frank Sinatra

This is a list of concerts performed by Frank Sinatra from 1940 to 1995.

Frank Sinatra: Live in Japan (July 3, 1974)

Frank Sinatra: At the USS Midway (July 4, 1974)

Frank Sinatra: Live at Melbourne Festival Hall (July 9, 1974)

Frank Sinatra: At Sydney (July 16, 1974)

Frank Sinatra: Live at Madison Square Garden (1st Show) (October 12, 1974)

Frank Sinatra: Live at Aryamehr Stadium, Tehran, Iran (24 November, 1975)

Frank Sinatra: The Jerusalem Concert (November 27, 1975)

Frank Sinatra: New Year's Eve at the Chicago Stadium (December 31, 1975)

Frank Sinatra's 40th Anniversary Concert (June 14, 1979)

Frank Sinatra Live in Rio de Janeiro (February 2, 1980)

Early life of Frank Sinatra

Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, on December 12, 1915. He grew up in a tenement with his parents, who had emigrated from Italy.

Fame and Obscurity

Fame and Obscurity: A Book About New York, a Bridge, and Celebrities on the Edge was a 1970 book by Gay Talese. The book was a collection of many of Talese's works for Esquire about New York City, and also includes his most famous celebrity profiles: "Joe Louis: The King as a Middle-aged Man", "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold" and "The Silent Season of a Hero".

Frank Sinatra Conducts the Music of Alec Wilder

Frank Sinatra Conducts the Music of Alec Wilder is an album of compositions by Alec Wilder, conducted by Frank Sinatra, released in 1946.

Frankly Sentimental

Frankly Sentimental is the fourth studio album by Frank Sinatra, released on June 20, 1949 as a set of four 78 rpm records and a 10" LP album.

The tracks were arranged and conducted by Axel Stordahl and his orchestra.

The album is composed of eight songs recorded in eight separate sessions in 1946 and 1947.

List of 2015 This American Life episodes

In 2015, there were 33 new This American Life episodes.

Episode 544 – "Batman"

air date: 2015-01-09

Act 1: Batman Begins.

Act 2: The Dark Knight Rises.

Episode 545 – "If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS"

air date: 2015-01-23

Act 1: Ask Not For Whom The Bell Trolls; It Trolls for Thee.

Act 2: Freedom Fries.

Act 3: Words of Prey.

Act 4: Mailer Demon.

Episode 546 – "Burroughs 101"

air date: 2015-01-30

Act 1: Burroughs, Part One.

Act 2: Burroughs, Part Two.

Episode 547 – "Cops See It Differently, Part One"

air date: 2015-02-06

Act 1:

Act 2:

Episode 548 – "Cops See It Differently, Part Two"

air date: 2015-02-13

Act 1: Inconvenience Store.

Act 2: Comey Don't Play That.

Episode 549 – "Amateur Hour"

air date: 2015-02-27

Act 1: Theater of War.

Act 2: And Baby Makes 0011.

Act 3: Commander In Brief.

Episode 550 – "Three Miles"

air date: 2015-03-13

Act 1:

Act 2:

Episode 551 – "Good Guys 2015"

air date: 2015-03-20

Act 1: Takes One To Know One.

Act 2: Heels On The Bus.

Act 3: No Man Left Behind.

Act 4: The Test.

Episode 552 – "Need To Know Basis"

air date: 2015-03-27

Act 1: Full Disclosure.

Act 2: Total Eclipse of the Son.

Act 3: The Favorite.

Episode 553 – "Stuck In The Middle (2015)"

air date: 2015-04-03

Act 1: Do You Hear What I Hear?

Act 2: Sunrise, Sun-Get.

Act 3: Contrails of My Tears.

Episode 554 – "Not It!"

air date: 2015-04-10

Act 1: Como Se Dice "Not It"?

Act 2: Last But Not Least.

Act 3: The Big Crapple.

Episode 555 – "The Incredible Rarity of Changing Your Mind"

air date: 2015-04-24

Act 1: Do Ask, Do Tell.

Act 2: Crime Pays.

Act 3: Glacial Change

Episode 556 – "Same Bed, Different Dreams"

air date: 2015-05-01

Act 1: Dream Weevil.

Act 2: Smell You Later.

Act 3: The Haunter Becomes the Haunted.

Act 4: Overnight Flight.

Episode 557 – "Birds & Bees"

air date: 2015-05-15

Act 1: Some Like it Not (On the Neck).

Act 2: If You See Racism Say Racism.

Act 3: About that Farm Upstate.

Episode 558 – "Game Face"

air date: 2015-05-29

Act 1: 200 Dog Night, featuring Blair Braverman.

Act 2: Funny Face.

Act 3: Who Put the Face in Game Face?

Act 4: Frankly Miss Scarlet.

Episode 559 – "Captain's Log"

air date: 2015-06-26

Act 1: Cookies and Monsters.

Act 2: Romancing the Phone.

Act 3: A Quiet Street in Richmond.

Act 4: A Brief History of Us.

Episode 560 – "Abdi And The Golden Ticket"

air date: 2015-07-03

Act 1:

Act 2:

Episode 561 – "NUMMI 2015"

air date: 2015-07-17

Act 1:

Act 2:

Episode 562 – "The Problem We All Live With"

air date: 2015-07-31

Act 1: The Problem We All Live With PART ONE.

Act 2: The Problem We All Live With PART TWO.

Episode 563 – "The Problem We All Live With - Part Two"

air date: 2015-08-07

Act 1: My Secret Public Plan.

Act 2: What’s It All About, Arne?

Episode 564 – "Too Soon?"

air date: 2015-08-14

Act 1: But Wait, There's More!

Act 2: Pink Slip.

Episode 565 – "Lower 9 + 10"

air date: 2015-08-28

Act 1: First Stop.

Act 2: Second Stop.

Act 3: Third Stop.

Act 4: Fourth Stop.

Act 5: Fifth Stop.

Act 6: Sixth Stop.

Episode 566 – "The Land of Make Believe"

air date: 2015-09-11

Act 1: Overboard.

Act 2: The Lyin' Kings.

Episode 567 – "What's Going On In There?"

air date: 2015-09-18

Act 1: I Can Explain.

Act 2: RSV-Pa.

Episode 568 – "Human Spectacle 2015"

air date: 2015-10-02

Act 1: I Am The Eggplant.

Act 2: I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me.

Act 3: The Big Break.

Episode 569 – "Put A Bow On It"

air date: 2015-10-09

Act 1: The Room Where It Happens.

Act 2: The Wedding Crasher.

Act 3: Drivers Wanted. Really Really Wanted.

Episode 570 – "The Night In Question"

air date: 2015-10-16

Act 1: The Night.

Act 2: The Morning.

Episode 571 – "The Heart Wants What It Wants"

air date: 2015-10-30

Act 1: Jesse’s Girl.

Act 2: My Love Is Blue.

Act 3: Unbreak My Heart.

Episode 572 – "Transformers"

air date: 2015-11-06

Act 1: Optimus, Way Past Her Prime.

Act 2: Streetwise.

Act 3: Richard Pierce.

Act 4: Trailbreaker.

Episode 573 – "Status Update"

air date: 2015-11-29

Act 1: Finding the Self in Selfie.

Act 2: Mon Ami Ta-Nehisi.

Act 3: There Owes the Neighborhood.

Act 4: 76-Year-Old Quarterback Throws Hail Mary Pass.

Episode 574 – "Sinatra's 100th Birthday"

air date: 2015-12-11

Act 1: Frank Sinatra Has a Cold.

Act 2: One Sinatra Fan ... Versus All Of Network TV.

Act 3: History Lesson.

Act 4: The Death of Frank Sinatra.

Act 5: Chairman of the Block.

Episode 575 – "Poetry of Propaganda"

air date: 2015-12-18

Act 1: Guerrilla Marketing

Act 2: Not Our Town

Act 3: The Spy Who Didn't Know She Was A Spy.

Act 4: Party On!

Episode 576 – "Say Yes To Christmas"

air date: 2015-12-25

Act 1: Christmas On A High Wire.

Act 2: Oily Potter and The Gobble of Fire.

Act 3: The First Noel.

Love Songs (Frank Sinatra album)

Love Songs is a 2001 compilation album by Frank Sinatra, that contains 15 love songs he recorded from Columbia Records.

Lucky Numbers (album)

Lucky Numbers is a 1998 compilation album by Frank Sinatra.

Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back

Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back is a 1973 album by the American singer Frank Sinatra.

Sinatra returned from his brief retirement with the appropriately titled Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back. Released amidst a whirlwind of publicity, the album was a commercial success, earning gold status and peaking just outside the top-ten on the UK and Billboard album charts.

The album was accompanied by a television special, Magnavox Presents Frank Sinatra, which reunited Sinatra with Gene Kelly.

Genuine first pressings of the LP came with a bonus photo of Frank inside the cover.

Sinatra's Sinatra

Sinatra's Sinatra is an album by American singer Frank Sinatra, released in 1963.

Ten of the album's twelve tracks are re-recorded versions of songs that Sinatra had previously released, with "Pocketful of Miracles" and "Call Me Irresponsible" being first-time recordings for Sinatra.

Sinatra's two previous record labels, Columbia Records and Capitol Records, had both successfully issued collections of Sinatra's hits; this album was the attempt of his new label, Reprise Records, to duplicate this success by offering some earlier songs in stereophonic sound, which by 1963 was an exploding recording technology.

The album was arranged and conducted by frequent Sinatra collaborator Nelson Riddle.

Sinatra's Swingin' Session!!!

Sinatra's Swingin' Session!!! is a 1961 album by Frank Sinatra.

Six of the tracks on the album are re-recordings of a batch of songs that Sinatra had previously recorded on the Columbia album, Sing and Dance with Frank Sinatra.

It was released on compact disc as Sinatra's Swingin' Session!!! And More.

Sinatra, with Love

Sinatra, With Love is a 2014 compilation album by Frank Sinatra, consisting of 16 romance songs from Capitol Records and Reprise Records.

Sinatra and Strings

Sinatra and Strings is a 1962 album by Frank Sinatra consisting of standard ballads.

Super Hits (Frank Sinatra album)

Super Hits is a 2000 compilation album by American singer Frank Sinatra.

The Concert Sinatra

The Concert Sinatra is an album by American singer Frank Sinatra that was released in 1963. It was the first album he made with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra. The audio was recorded on 35mm film in a large Hollywood movie stage. Many of the songs are showtunes.

This Is Sinatra!

This Is Sinatra! is a compilation album by Frank Sinatra, released in 1956.

This is the first collection of Sinatra's singles and B-sides with Nelson Riddle. This album is now available on CD (Bluemoon CD 803) All of the tracks also appear on the box set The Complete Capitol Singles Collection

and various Capitol reissues. A second collection, entitled This Is Sinatra Volume 2, was released in 1958.

Both albums were part of Capitol's This Is series. The albums highlighted past hits by artists like Sinatra, June Christy, Dean Martin and Nat "King" Cole as well as newly released (and hopefully hit-making) singles.

This Is Sinatra Volume 2

This Is Sinatra Volume Two is a compilation album by American singer Frank Sinatra, released in 1958.

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