Liberal Democrat

Liberal Democrat
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Thursday, April 4, 2013

My Travel Clips: Biography of The Rat Pack

This piece was originally posted at FRS Daily Journal: My Travel Clips: Biography of The Rat Pack

A group of some of the best and funniest entertainers of all-time. In Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, you’re talking about two of the top singers and certainly comedic actors ever. Guys who were also great at dramatic comedy as well. Men who were also two of the top vocalists of all-time. And when you add their off the cuff humor and dramatic ability, to go with the singing and you’re about guys who were born to entertain and act. Guys who combined many different role and styles of entertainment, in their entertainment routine. Of singing, acting and comedy. That is how you get the title of Chairman of The Board, as Frank Sinatra more than earned. Because he was the top man in Hollywood and the entertainment business.

Add Peter Lawford, who was a tall muscular 6’2, I would add better looking Frank Sinatra. Who was perhaps the best all around actor in this group that also had Joey Bishop and Sammy Davis in it and you’re not just talking about good friends and partners. You’re talking about Hollywood’s real-life version of the firm, or an exclusive private club which they were. Where it doesn’t take being at the top of your game to get in. But the top of the Hollywood game. To not be in your prime, but to be the best of the best in Hollywood. Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, are probably the two most famous and successful members of this club. But this was a club, a great club, where every member more than deserved to be part of.

And of course Sammy Davis. A great and talented musical comedian, who was great at both, who was only a little man in physical stature. Who accomplished so much in a fairly short life. Despite being a horrible victim of racial and ethnic discrimination, because he was both African and Jewish. Who lost business and work opportunities, simply because he married and Nordic-Swedish women, May Britt. But the fact that a guy like Sammy Davis is part of The Rat Pack, is two credits to The Rat Pack, but also Sammy. Sammy being good enough to be part of this group. But that The Rat Pack, was a business and the only color that good business’s are interested in is the color green. And I’m not talking about the Irish, but the color of money. Race, ethnicity and color, were not of interest to The Rat Pack.

Actor/comedian Joey Bishop, who I’m not as familiar with and that’s probably my fault, was also a great member of this group. If you watch The Rat Pack movie Ocean’s Eleven, not a great movie, but a very good movie and certainly better than all the Ocean’s that came after it, Joey Bishop was very good in that. Playing the right-hand man of the guy who puts their casino operations together. This group also had honorable members to it. People who weren’t official members, but did a lot of work with them and close friends of them. Actress Angie Dickinson, one of the top Hollywood Goddess’s of all-time both physically, but a hell of an actress, (and Police Women as well) was one of the non-official members of this group.

Of course Ava Gardner, was also part of this group as an honorable member and add Lana Turner to this list, Janet Leigh at least to some extent. The Rat Pack truly was a whose who of Hollywood. People who were very talented and very successful, but also all came with a lot of baggage. Where it almost looked like they lived the lives of people they played in films. Or others played in films. They literally lived made for Hollywood lives. Perhaps especially Frank, Ava and Lana. The Rat Pack was their own talent agency. If you’re just friends and associates of this group, you knew you made it. Because only people who’ve already made it, or in Sammy Davis’s case had a great talent that simply was overlooked (for whatever reasons) by Hollywood, were going to be part of this group.

To paraphrase in what Harry Smith said early in this video. The Rat Pack defined cool in Hollywood. They were what cool was in a time where that word generally wasn’t used in pop culture terms that it is today. And generally just used to describe ones laid back personality. They defined what cool was, because they set the trends and were the only people that they knew how to be which was themselves. They did what they wanted to do when they wanted to do it and how they wanted to do it. The classic individuals in a very collectivist trendy industry where performers were supposed to all be a certain way and always act that way. Or risk losing work. But no one owned The Rat Pack themselves. And they were very successful at being themselves and always doing what they wanted to do when they wanted to do it. And they could get away with that, because of how good and popular they were.