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Family Feud Over Sinatra Fortune

Feuding members of the Frank Sinatra family are preparing to carve up a multimillion dollar financial empire that includes businesses, pricey real estate and a lucrative musical catalogue.

"Sinatra Inc." flourished in the final years of the entertainer's life through sales of two top-selling duet albums, reissues of old hits and licensing of Sinatra's name and image to appear on products ranging from ties to Korbel champagne labels.

But as the sales have grown, so has a rift over control of his business interests that has divided Sinatra's two daughters and his widow, Barbara Sinatra.

"It's not a little rift. They are at each others throats," a source close to the family said on the condition of anonymity.

Sinatra spokeswoman Susan Reynolds declined to discuss the will or relationships between Mrs. Sinatra and the singer's children. Sinatra attorney Harvey Silbert and investment advisor Milton Rudin did not return calls seeking comment.

Sinatra died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Thursday night after suffering a heart attack. A private funeral Mass was scheduled for noon Wednesday at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Beverly Hills and a private vigil service was planned for Tuesday night. Burial will be private.

A source said that Sinatra is leaving substantial resources to Mrs. Sinatra, his fourth wife, and his three children, Nancy, Tina and Frank Sinatra Jr.

Mrs. Sinatra inherits his real estate, including a Malibu beach house and a Beverly Hills estate, as well as a lucrative Budweiser beer distributorship. The children get Sinatra's music catalogue.

Whether the will's distribution of assets settles the family's continuing feud remains to be seen. The rift began several years ago. As Sinatra's health failed, Mrs. Sinatra began to assert more control over his finances. Daughters Tina and Nancy began to fear they would be left with nothing, the source said.

"The problem is there is a desperation factor as far as the kids are concerned because Frank didn't really take care of them, spoil them," the source said. "Nancy had to borrow money from her mother about 10 years ago and she had to pose for Playboy to make ends meet. Nancy has said publicly that she is not an heiress."

J. Randy Taraborrelli, who wrote the unauthorized biography Sinatra Behind the Legend said the daughters didn't understand that Sinatra wanted his children to earn their own way.

"They have had to work hard to earn a living," the author said. "The stress between Barbara and the children is the anxiety the kids felt over the years over having to carve out their own niche and this feeling she was going to get the money they had a right to."

"These people aren't paupers, mind you. But they have not been treated as grand heirs to a fortune. It's not been as easy as the public may think. Frank probably could have avoided all this if he habeen a little more generous," Taraborrelli said.

In other Sinatra developments:

  • Restaurants have been sending food to the Sinatra estate in Beverly Hills for the stream of well-wishers calling on Mrs. Sinatra. Visitors included Kirk Douglas, Robert Wagner and Robert Stack. Fans continue to leave flowers and notes at the mansion gates. "The family is feeling a wealth of love," said Ms. Reynolds.
  • John Travolta will play Sinatra in a Martin Scorsese film based on the Nicholas Pileggi Dean Martin biography Dino, Travolta said in a statement.
  • During a November 1965 CBS-TV special on Sinatra, which will be broadcast again Thursday on the show 48 Hours, the entertainer was asked how he wanted to be remembered.

    "Well, I think I would like to be remembered as a man who brought innovation to popular singing a peculiar, unique fashion that I wish one of these days somebody would learn to do so it doesn't die where it is," Sinatra responded.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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