Long before she became Mrs. Frank Sinatra, a girl named Barbara Blakeley grew up poor in smalltown Missouri—scraping and saving to help her family and others endure the Great Depression.
While she managed to wind up as far as one could be from that scenario, the vivid memory of those desperate times would continue to define her.
Founded in 1986 by Barbara and Frank Sinatra, the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center in Rancho Mirage, California is dedicated to, “ensuring every child’s right to a normal, healthy and secure childhood,” by providing individual, group and family therapy along with special programs that address issues associated with children suffering from abuse and neglect.
Like many other girls of the era, Barbara Sinatra grew up listening to Frank’s voice on the radio. Barbara later moved to Las Vegas, became a showgirl and ended up marrying Zeppo Marx, of the Marx Brothers. Eventually she and Marx divorced, and she found herself in a friendship with her childhood idol. That friendship evolved into so much more, and Barbara married Frank Sinatra in 1976. Despite his infamously turbulent personal life, Frank’s fourth marriage proved to be his longest, as the couple endured until his passing in 1998.
In the years since, Barbara had put her heart and soul into the Children’s Center.
“What I began all those years ago and what Frank wholeheartedly supported has helped so many children recover from the most heinous of crimes and given them the opportunity to go out into the world with a restored sense of trust and purpose,” Barbara said, adding, “Long may it continue.”
Barbara Sinatra passed away earlier this week, at the age of 90.
Frank once referred to the Beatles’ “Something” as “the greatest love song of the past 50 years.” Given the staggering volume of love songs that Frank Sinatra has sung, that’s a fairly weighty compliment. We share his cover of that beautiful song today, to celebrate the “Something” that he and Barbara found in each other.