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What Happens in Vegas...


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...on January 28th, 1959, Frank Sinatra joined Dean Martin on stage at the Sands Casino in Las Vegas for the first time. It would evolve from there into an act that would play out over a period of time, drawing huge numbers.

When Sinatra was in town, nothing else mattered. He owned Vegas.

What was once known as the 'Clan', became known as 'The Rat Pack'. (It is rumoured that Frank actually came up with this name, because of the racial overtones 'Clan' had. How true this is is anyone's guess.) Dino and Frank, along with Sammy Davis, Jr., and to a lesser degree, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop, formed the Pack.

A year later, almost to the day, January 26, 1960, the Rat Pack began filming Ocean's Eleven in Vegas. For the next 2-3 weeks, after filming, every night, Dean, Sammy, and Frank worked their act onstage, combining comedy, alcohol, and wonderful music to a packed house.

But, their act wasn't just about having a good time, (although they were pretty good at that), they also worked in some social commentary along the way, thumbing their nose at racism.

At that time of the 20th century, black men were still sitting at the back of the bus. And yet, here was Sammy, on stage, in on the joke. He would jump into Dean's arms, and Dean would say, "I'd like to thank the NAACP for this award."

Frank said if Sammy didn't go on stage, neither would he. Sinatra and Sammy Davis were the best of friends, with Frank moving Sammy into his (Frank's) home to recover after an automobile accident in 1954 (I think), cost Sammy his left eye.

But I digress...getting back to the show...

I've seen footage of these infamous shows, and it is plain that these men were born entertainers. And that wasn't iced tea they were drinking, either. Those cats knew how to party. The ease with which they played off of each other, and the natural way they made one another laugh, well, I wish I could have caught one of those shows. These guys exuded what cool was all about. They set the tone.

I have some of the music from their shows in Vegas, and in my opinion, while they all could sing, Sammy easily had the most powerful voice.

I just ordered The Rat Pack Live at the Sands today, and I hope to get it Monday or Tuesday. That was a magical time in music history, one that will never be repeated. I think, the reason it was so perfect, was that these guys were just being themselves. They weren't 'putting on a show' for the audience, insomuch as they were just friends, entertaining themselves, and people just got it, you know?


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I found out some other interesting things while reading about these shows, as well.

Frank Sinatra had a 7% interest in the Sands, given to him by the owner. (I forget his name) The owner knew Sinatra was money in the back, and accomodated Frank and his entourage free of charge, because he knew any time Frank was in town, he was sure to turn a huge profit.

As far as filming Ocean's Eleven during the day, and doing the shows and partying at night, I have also read they did the shows, then shot the film all night into daylight, and slept during the day. So, I am not sure which is true, but since a lot of the movie takes place at night, I would imagine they filmed at night, after doing their shows.

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