His Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra
© 1986 Kitty Kelley
His Way is a gossipy biography of Frank Sinatra, one full of drama and interest, but more tabloid-like than serious. Most biographies of Sinatra follow the same course: his childhood, his explosive initial popularity in the early 1940s, his crash at the end of the decade, and then a revival with From Here to Eternity, after which point he became – until the late sixties – the most prominent entertainer in America. Kelly’s own account focuses much on personal drama, like Sinatra’s countless (literally) romances, and his ferocious temper, which was often expressed in the form of punched reporters and thrown objects. It makes for fun reading, but having read James Kaplan’s magnificent two volume set on Sinatra, I was disappointed in Kelley’s incredibly superficial mentions of Sinatra’s actual music. Although the Voice phoned in many of his movies, he was the serious, consummate artist where his music was concerned, and even listened to Beatles and Elvis albums to try to understand their appeal. Kaplan’s own’s treatment of Sinatra’s evolving musical styles spoiled me, I think, and so while I enjoyed this review of Sinatra’s life well enough, I don’t think it contributes anything new or substantial. Perhaps it did at one point, highlighting Sinatra’s shortcomings, but Kaplan addressed those in addition to his other strengths.