The Corner

Culture

Sinatra, the Exhibit

Forgive the short notice, but if you are in or near New York City, please run to see “Sinatra: An American Icon.” Today is the last day to see this superb exhibit at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts, nestled between the Metropolitan Opera House and the Vivian Beaumont Theater. The library is open from Noon to 6:00 p.m.

This exhibition moves next to the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles — from October 21 through February 15, 2016 — and then to Miami, dates TBD. 

December 12, 2015 would have been Francis Albert Sinatra’s 100th birthday. Lincoln Center has been celebrating his centennial year with a display of artifacts and performance clips from across the legendary entertainer’s stunning career. From his humble roots in Hoboken, New Jersey, through his years at the pinnacle of show business in the 1950s and ‘60s, through his latter days in Palm Springs, where he spent hours playing with toy trains, this retrospective has plenty to enthrall fans and intrigue newcomers to Sinatra’s story.

Highlights include sheet music and stage designs from his early days with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, the special Academy Award he won in 1946 (at age 30) for an anti-racism short-subject film titled The House I Live In, multiple Grammy Awards, and posters from many of his motion pictures, both the still memorable and the long forgotten. Two small mixer boards empower each visitor to impersonate a sound engineer and produce customized versions of several songs, adding and subtracting drums, bass, piano, and Sinatra’s voice to suit individual tastes.

Amid many audio and video samples of Sinatra’s artistry, my favorite captures the finest male vocalist of the 20th century singing a duet with his female counterpart, Ella Fitzgerald. The Chairman of the Board and the First Lady of Song swing their way through “The Lady is a Tramp” with elegance, grace, good humor, professionalism, and perfect creative chemistry. Watch that footage and weep for what yielded to Miley Cyrus.

Sinatra excelled as a singer, actor, dancer, comedian, philanthropist, businessman, and even showed considerable talent as an abstract painter, as several of his oils demonstrate. He also was married four times, partied most nights until daybreak, brawled with paparazzi, and associated with organized-crime figures.

By the time he passed away at age 82 — as it happened, during the May 14, 1998 series finale of Seinfeld — few human beings, if any, could rival Sinatra’s gift for packing so much achievement, joy, sorrow, and excitement into one journey on Earth. As Sinatra said, and this splendid exhibit confirms, “You only live once, and the way I live, once is enough.”

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor, a contributor to National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.

Recommended

The Latest