Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley


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By Mahnuel Muñoz

On May 12, 1960, the “Frank Sinatra Timex Special” was broadcast on the ABC network. Frank’s guests on this extraordinary historical show were Elvis Presley, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Nancy Sinatra, and Joey Bishop. Magnificent in his military uniform, The King makes his first appearance alongside Frank after completing his military service. The show is full of indelible moments, but without a doubt, the duet between the two kings of popular music will go down in eternity, performing “Love Me Tender” and “Witchcraft.”

Frank Sinatra and Elvis maintained a complicated relationship, a natural consequence of being the two greatest singers of the 20th century and belonging to different generations. The controversy has served for years to confront fans, in a sterile and sometimes harmful debate. Why choose?

Sinatra – to whom the entertainment world gave numerous nicknames, among them “the chairman of the board” – never understood or appreciated rock or its creators, just as Elvis had his reservations about the new sounds that emerged in the decades 1960s and 1970s, although both benefited from their contributions. With this the issue should be settled.


When Elvis exploded in 1956, the whole world turned upside down. Frank’s attitude was one of disdain and paternalism, but it was nothing personal against the King; Like almost every great artistic figure, Sinatra detested anything that took away the public’s attention, and let’s not forget that in that glorious year Frank was back on top after a painful and high-profile artistic “resurrection” in 1953, with an Oscar for “From Here To Eternity” and a contract with the Capitol Records label that made him a living legend in a matter of two albums.

But The Voice had to swallow its arrogance in 1960 when it realized that inviting Elvis to its television show, “The Timex Show,” when the Tupelo boy returned from military service was an extraordinary opportunity to get a good audience. Furthermore, Frank declared to the press: “(…) After all, the boy has been away for two years, and I have the feeling that he really believes in what he does.” Frank, not fond of praise and clichés, somehow gave his blessing to Elvis.

Frank Sinatra y Elvis Presley

The return of Elvis was the event most anticipated by the public and show business. Rock and roll was in crisis and everyone wanted to know where their king was going. For Presley, beyond stylistic labels, that program helped him obtain the approval of the most conservative public, and it gave Frank many viewers: almost seventy percent of the American audience tuned in to the show to see the monarchs of music together. for the first and only time.

At that time, Elvis began dating actress Juliet Prowse, just after an engagement between her and Frank Sinatra broke off. Over the years, it has been said that Frank got angry at Elvis for dating Juliet, which is not true. Sinatra was not in love with her, her engagement was a publicity stunt and even while they were “engaged” he didn’t mind her dating others, as long as she was discreet and didn’t put him in an awkward situation.

“She wants to sleep with Elvis Presley? Well, there she is – Frank commented to one of his collaborators -. But she’s going to be really disappointed after being with me. Ha!” Frankie…genius and figure…

In May 1965, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley met again at a public event in which the King donated $50,000 to the Film Relief Fund. Sinatra and actress Barbara Stanwick picked up the heel.

Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley

On May 1, 1967, Elvis and Priscilla went to get married in Las Vegas aboard Frank’s private jet.

In 1969, after his incredible return to Las Vegas, Elvis attended the Nancy Sinatra premiere at the International Hotel and was photographed with Frank and Fred Astaire. At that point Elvis already belonged in his own right to the highest spheres of entertainment, those that shone beyond fashion.

At the end of August 1975, Elvis was admitted to the hospital to treat various health problems, aggravated by his exhausting schedule in Las Vegas. During his admission, he received a call from Frank, who told him not to let “those bastards” kill him. Elvis understood that he was referring not only to Las Vegas, but to the entire delirious network that surrounded him.

In 1977, when Elvis’s former bodyguards, Red and Sonny West, wrote an infamous book that aired dirty laundry, real or imagined, about the star, Sinatra’s entourage proposed taking matters into their own hands and preventing publication. Elvis declined the offer.

In 1979 Frank was immersed in the recording of his ambitious project “Trilogy”, a triple album with standards from the Great American Songbook, contemporary pop songs and an ambitious orchestral suite. Among the selection of pop songs was a respectful and emotional version of “Love Me Tender” that harmoniously closed a circle that began two decades ago, precisely with that same song. In the duet with the King, Frank went over the song with a certain lightness. In 1979, Sinatra performed with heart and solemnity, I like to think that as a tribute to a man with whom he had a lot in common and who, perhaps in other circumstances, he would have been a good friend.

Article written and provided by Mahnuel Muñoz


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