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George Jacobs (With Bill Stadiem): Mr. S: My Life With Frank Sinatra


Mr. S: My Life With Frank Sinatra

Author: George Jacobs (With Bill Stadiem)
Publisher: HarperCollins

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George Jacobs and Bill Stadiem's gloriously lurid Mr. S belongs to that peculiar subset of literature written by (or, as is more often the case, ghostwritten for) otherwise-ordinary folks whose jobs give them intimate access to major icons. Jacobs worked as Frank Sinatra's valet and right-hand man for 15 years, and even though Sinatra fired him and brusquely exiled him from his inner circle, Mr. S is more a love letter than a hatchet job. Jacobs clearly adores Sinatra, who hired him away from super-agent Irving "Swifty" Lazar at a low ebb in the crooner's career, just before From Here To Eternity catapulted Sinatra back onto the A-list. Jacobs' job afforded him a front-row seat to pop-culture history in the making as he watched Sinatra buddy up to mobster Sam Giancana, get seduced and betrayed by the Kennedys, resurrect his sagging music and film career, and enter into an ill-advised marriage with Mia Farrow, who ultimately cost Jacobs his job after he was photographed dancing with her at a nightclub. That's just the tip of a gossipy and salacious iceberg. Through it all, Sinatra pines for lost love Ava Gardner, knocks back Jack Daniel's, engages in Olympian bouts of whoremongering, explodes into fits of rage, and treats Hollywood like his own private brothel. Mr. S features enough betrayal, seduction, and intrigue for a decade's worth of soap-opera plots, but Jacobs makes it clear that Sinatra's weaknesses were matched by his boundless generosity, talent, and loyalty to his friends. As he tells it, being Sinatra's flunky was a lot more exciting and rewarding than being the boss of nearly everyone else. After all, not many jobs offer such perks as watching Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich make out, getting high with Mia Farrow, babysitting Marilyn Monroe, or stumbling upon JFK snorting cocaine, an act that would have horrified the famously drug-hating Sinatra. Mr. S offers a curious sort of double-voyeurism, with Jacobs inviting readers to vicariously experience his own vicarious access to the life of one of pop-culture's preeminent icons. Sinatra's story is so compelling and larger-than-life, though, that even a secondhand account like Jacobs' packs a powerful punch.