The Sinatra family and Hudson County recently mourned the loss of our own Nancy Barbato Sinatra, who passed on July 13 at the age of 101.

Born in Jersey City, Nancy Rose Barbato was the daughter of hardworking Italian immigrants. In 1939 she was a secretary, and married some guy from Hoboken who was working as a waiter and singing part time. The ceremony was at Our Lady of Sorrows in Jersey City.

The rest is history… and infamy…

But through it all, Frank and Nancy forged and reportedly maintained a warm relationship that persevered beyond the tumultuous years of Frank’s ascendancy—and their subsequent divorce.

Frank would go on to marry three more times. Nancy did not.

The New York Times recounts the perfect answer she gave our friend Pete Hamill, when he asked why she had never remarried.

“After Sinatra?”

Fair enough.

Knowing what we know about the Frank and Nancy saga, there have always been lingering questions about his famous recording of the song title “Nancy (With The Laughing Face).” Was it written about his former wife, or about his famous daughter?

As it turns out, it was neither.

“Nancy” was composed in 1942, with music by Jimmy Van Heusen. The lyrics, by Phil Silvers, were originally “Bessie (With The Laughing Face)”—written for the wife of songwriter Johnny Burke.

It went over so well that they tweaked it for other female birthday events. When they sang it as at little Nancy Sinatra’s birthday party, Frank reportedly broke down and cried, thinking it had been written especially for his daughter.

No one bothered to correct him, and Frank recorded it for Columbia in 1944.

As for honoring the memory of Nancy Barbato Sinatra, the Sinatra Family has asked that donations in her name be made to the Amanda Foundation or the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.


Authored by: hMAG