Nancy Sinatra Sr., First Wife of Frank Sinatra, Dies at 101
The New Jersey natives were married from 1939-51 and had three kids. Ten days after their divorce, he married Hollywood glamour girl Ava Gardner.
Nancy Sinatra Sr., the first of Frank Sinatra's four wives and the mother of the legendary entertainer's three children, has died. She was 101.
She died Friday, according to her daughter Nancy. "My mother passed away peacefully tonight at the age of 101. She was a blessing and the light of my life. Godspeed, Momma. Thank you for everything," she tweeted Friday. The cause and setting of the death was not given.
Nancy Barbato met Sinatra, then a little-known jazz singer from Hoboken, New Jersey, in the summer of 1934 in Long Branch, New Jersey, and they were married on Feb. 4, 1939.
They moved into a tiny apartment in Jersey City, New Jersey — her hometown — and a few months later the singer enjoyed a huge career boost when he cut his first record with famed trumpeter Harry James.
The Sinatras' first two kids were each born in Jersey City: Nancy ("These Boots Are Made for Walkin'") on June 8, 1940, and Frank Jr. on Jan. 10, 1944.
Later in 1944, the family moved west to Toluca Lake, California — their neighbors included Bob Hope and Bing Crosby — and daughter Tina was born on June 20, 1948.
The Sinatras separated in September 1950. Just days after their divorce was finalized, Frank married sultry actress Ava Gardner — who earlier had been married to actor Mickey Rooney and bandleader Artie Shaw — on Nov. 7, 1951.
"It would take him two years to ask Mom for a divorce, and they were two of the roughest, most insecure years of Dad's life," Tina wrote in her 2000 book, My Father's Daughter: A Memoir. "His career was faltering, his bank account dwindling. What money he had went to Mom to care for us. He was pursuing the highest-maintenance woman in Hollywood [Gardner], and one who freely traveled the world to boot."
Nancy Sinatra never remarried. Frank separated from Gardner in 1953, and their divorce became official in 1957.
In December 1963, the family endured a terrible ordeal when Frank Jr., then 19, was kidnapped from a hotel room in Lake Tahoe and held for a $240,000 ransom. He was released unharmed.
"Fellas, do you mind if we go now?" she told a pack of reporters who had gathered on the street outside her home after her son was freed. "I want to feed him."
Frank Sr. later was married to actress Mia Farrow from 1966–68 and then to former showgirl Barbara Marx from 1976 until his death on May 14, 1998.