The Best Is Yet To Come: Frank Sinatra’s Sendoffby L-Johnson
In the mid 90′s, Frank Sinatra was showing signs of dementia and his heart was in bad shape. The beginning of the end was in 1994, when Ol’ Blue Eyes was singing My Way on stage in Richmond, Virginia when he suddenly collapsed. He fell off his stool, hit his head on the speaker, and landed on the floor. After a heart attack a few years later in 1997, Frank stopped making public appearances. He never knew where he was due to his dementia, and had lost his motor skills.
On May 14th, 1998, Frank had a heart attack just after 9 p.m. and was rushed to the hospital. After arriving at the hospital, his wife Barbara hugged him and told him to “Fight, fight fight.” He whispered, “I’m losing,” which were his last words as he closed his eyes and died.
A statement announcing his death was put up by his family on their website along with a recording of Frank’s version of Softly As I Leave You.
Frank Sinatra had/has millions of fans worldwide. Many sendoff tributes were held after his passing. On the night that he died, the Empire State Building in New York, N.Y. was lit up in blue lights in his memory. The next night, the Las Vegas strip lights were dimmed for 10 minutes in his honor.
The Cadillac division of GM took out a full page ad in the New York Times. It had a picture of a classic 1950′s era Cadillac along with a picture of Frank, and the caption “Thanks for the Ride”.
President Bill Clinton made a statement saying that after getting to know Frank, he had “come to appreciate on a personal level what millions of people had appreciated from afar.”
Sir Elton John stated that Sinatra was “simply the best; no one else even comes close.”
Frank Sinatra’s funeral was held on May 20th, 1998 in Beverly Hills, California. 400 mourners were in attendance as well as hundreds of fans outside. The mourners were addressed by Gregory Peck, Tony Bennett, Robert Wagner, and Frank Jr.. The pallbearers included Don Rickles and Steve Lawrence. At the service, Frank’s song Put Your Dreams Away was played. The church was filled with white roses and cherry blossoms. Little Mass cards were handed out that had a picture of Frank holding a puppy.
Frank was dressed in a blue suit and his casket was covered with 1000 gardenias. Mia Farrow placed in his casket a ring that said “Dream”. Nancy Sinatra placed in Frank’s pockets some Tootsie Rolls, BlackJack gum, and cherry Life Savers. She also slipped a mini bottle of Jack Daniels into his casket. Additionally placed in the casket were a pack of Camels cigarettes, a Zippo lighter, and 10 dimes. The meaning of the dimes is that Frank never wanted to get caught unable to make a phone call.
Frank’s burial vault is bronze lined, with the grave marker bearing the epitaph “The Best Is Yet To Come”.