Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop
Our esteemed Chairman has finally abdicated the board. Now that my man
Francis has bought the Big Casino, who are we gonna look to as our guide
for masculinity with style? Is there anyone out there who possesses the
cool and swagger that can act as a beacon for us to follow, or are all
the rest of 'em just a bunch of hapless clydes? Believe me baby, people
today are lookin' to 'em, 'cause interest in the Rat Pack is higher now
than any time since their late 50's-mid 60's Vegas heyday, as the flood
of Pack related books and the recent TV Land special can attest to. It's
'cause they set the standard for classy, adult entertainment while still
cutting up like frat boys. That's a feat that requires style to
pull off successfully. So what makes the Rat Pack the pinnical of style?
Grab a drink, light up a square, and enjoy the discourse, baby.
"We're not setting out to make Hamlet or Gone with the
Wind. The idea is to hang out together, find fun with the
broads, and have a great time. We gotta make pictures that
people enjoy. Entertainment, period." - Frank
Okay, suppose you're an
American male, circa early to mid 1960's, you're in your late twenties to
mid-thirties, who are you looking to as a cultural role model? A politican
perhaps? Back in those days, when our Presidents earned a bit more esteem
than they do now, it wouldn't have been unreasonable to expect them to
set an example for us to follow. But who did you look to? Eisenhower? Squaresville,
baby. The popular entertainers of the era? Remember, this was when Perry
Como and Danny Williams were extremely popular. Dullsville, clyde. You
thought you were maybe a little to old for Rock'n'Roll, or perhaps it's
style just didn't appeal to you...who ya gonna turn to baby?
Luckily, a group of show-biz buddies decide to turn their proclivity for
cutting up into a stage act. When the Rat Pack made the scene, adult males
at last had role models to show them you could project an aura of style
and sophistication and still have fun. They showed that you could dress
to the nines and still not come off as a stuffed shirt. They taught us
that acting a little chauvanitstic wasn't necessarily bad if you did it
with style. And as Francis told us in song baby, You gotta have
The era in which the Rat Pack came to prominence was one where people, were
expected to conform to a certain type of expectation.
The workin' nine to five, come home to your wife and 2.5 kids day in and
day out grind was not most men's idea of livin' life to it's fullest. They
couldn't buy into the younger generations notions of what constituted non-conformity,
their way of life being totally foreign to them. But when they saw men
their own age or close to it livin' life like the world was one big adult
playground, they could live vicariously through them.
And who wouldn't want live like that--dressin' in tux's, drinkin' like
fish, swingin' from one good lookin' broad to another, singin' to adorin'
audience's and getting paid to do it!
They epitomized raffish
cool. They possessed panache in spades. They told off-color jokes, boozed
and smoked and still looked like class personified. While the Pack
had attitude enough to spare, they came from an era where entertainers
didn't soley rely on attitude to carry their act. Today, far to
many entertainers lean on an "image" to get their message across. It's
as if they hope that all their bullshit posturing masks their innate lack
of any real talent. With most of them, when you look past the slick, prefabricated
veneer, you find a suprisingly shallow act underneath the surface. And
shallow isn't the word that comes to mind when you hear Frank sing.
Frank, Dino and Sammy always had genuine talent to carry them through
the act, the on stage hijinks simply being the package it was wrapped in.
Frank Sinatra, the undisputed entertainer of the century, and upon who's shoulders
the entire popular music industry was built, practicaly invented swagger
and attitude, two traits entertainers strive for today, but without having
the goods neccessary to make it authentic. His career spanned decades
when most entertainers are lucky to enjoy a few years of succsess. He was
the first solo superstar singer in popular music, inventing the phenomenon
of enthusiastic, screaming fans. He went from a singer that men resented
and couldn't relate to, to a legend every other man emulated. He did something
that was rare then and is practicaly unheard of this age of disposable
celebrities--he grew into his image.
And there was Dean Martin--otherwise known as Dag to the rest of the
Pack, a man so smooth he must have been born packed in grease. It was performing
with the rest of the Pack that Dino showed he was a hell of a lot more
than just Jerry Lewis' straight man. Dino was without a doubt, one of the
most naturally funny men to ever walk on to a stage. He wasn't afraid to
poke fun at his own image, and was one of the few men ever allowed to poke
fun at Sinatra's image. Dino
never cared much about being percieved as a serious artist. He was simply
trying to have a good time, while to letting his audience in on the fun.
He had what Frank called "gorgeous indifference", an attribute that made
everything seem to come so easy to him, which may explain why he's never
gotten his due for being the great entertainer he was.
Sammy Davis Jr., was one of the most versatile performers
in the history of show business. He could act, dance and sing. Man oh man,
could that cat sing. Anyone who remembers him for just being the
guy who sang the "Baretta" t.v. theme song would do themselves a great
service by discovering his musical catalog.
Is that all? Well of course there were Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop.
The Brit and the comedian and most aren't even aware of the fringe members of the Ratpack:
Shirley MacLaine, Juliet Prowse, Angie Dickinson, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh.
never official members of the Ratpack.
Then there is the "original" Holmby Hills Rat Pack. Comprised of Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall,
Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Sid Luft, Swifty Lazar, Jimmy Van Heusen, David Niven and
Whoa baby! We ain't finished yet. Their mystique was so powerful that the media draws
from the Ratpack whenever possible. The BratPack comprised of: Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe,
Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Mare Winningham,
kept the Pack's magic alive through the eighties.
By themselves, they were formidable showman, but when they joined
forces, they showed what comradarie and chemistry were all about.
Warning: include() [function.include]: URL file-access is disabled in the server configuration in /home/rareexc/public_html/Garden/RatPack/Swingers.php on line 198
Warning: include(http://www.rareexception.com/Garden/foot.asp) [function.include]: failed to open stream: no suitable wrapper could be found in /home/rareexc/public_html/Garden/RatPack/Swingers.php on line 198
Warning: include() [function.include]: Failed opening 'http://www.rareexception.com/Garden/foot.asp' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/lib/php:/usr/local/lib/php') in /home/rareexc/public_html/Garden/RatPack/Swingers.php on line 198