Frank Sinatra loved women and women loved him. And his romances became the stuff of legend.
As he crooned his way into the world's hearts in the 1940s and changed the course of popular music, the skinny kid from Hoboken, New Jersey, became the idol of millions of swooning female fans -- the "bobbysoxers" as they were known for the short white socks that they wore.
Girls fainted in the aisles at concerts, hid in his dressing room and sneaked into his hotel rooms long before there was an Elvis Presley or the Beatles.
"Sinatramania" hit new heights in October 1944 as 27,000 mostly teen-age female fans lined the streets outside the Paramount Theatre in New York City to hear the kid sing.
Friends said Sinatra's mixed signals towards women, swinging between showering affection and neglect, was a result of his roller coaster childhood.
His Sicilian-born father was a fireman and an amateur boxer and encouraged his son to box. His indomitable mother, born in Genoa, Italy, was a strong-minded woman who dabbled in politics and was reputed to be a back street abortionist.
The other women in his life were:
- Ava Gardner. Sinatra's stormy and widely publicized affair with Ava, who was considered his greatest match in terms of brazenness and impetuousness, spelled the end of his marriage to Barbato. He married Gardner in 1951 but the marriage lasted less than six years.
- Mia Farrow. He married wife number three, Farrow, in 1966, when he was 50 and she was 21. They separated the following year and were divorced in 1968.
- Lauren Bacall. Bacall dated him after the death of her husband Humphrey Bogart.
- Juliet Prowse. He was briefly engaged to Prowse but broke it off abruptly in 1962.
- Barbara Marx. The singer's fourth wife, Marx, a former model and dancer who had been married to Zeppo Marx, of the Marx Brothers, had a calming effect on her husband.
When asked by biographer Bill Zehme what was the most important thing to look for in a woman, this was Sinatra's reply: "A sense of humor. When looking for a woman, it always helps to find a woman who is also looking."
"Make her feel appreciated, make her feel beautiful. If you practice long enough, you'll know when you get it."
By SUE ZEIDLER