Frank Sinatra, Landau Eugene Murphy, and Me (conclusion)

September 16, 2011

Congratulations to Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr. for winning America’s Got Talent with Frank Sinatra’s signature song “My Way.”

Concluding Wednesday’s blog excerpt from Bringing Back The Old Hollywood:

“Sinatra told me that he felt that he could only repay my father through his son so he had transferred his gratitude from my father to me. That certainly explained all the great gifts, culminating in that amazing Corvette out in the driveway.

Frank was not very close at that time with his own son. It’s really eerie for me when I look at my relationships with Sinatra, Ronald Reagan, Ray Stark, and Dino de Laurentiis, all of whom had sons who had either tragically died or from whom they were estranged.

My Dad had died, I was not close with my stepfather, and these amazing men appeared in my life. Obviously, I benefited hugely from that transference.

Frank introduced me to Dorothy, his private secretary, and gave me a little business card with a private phone number on it. He told me that, by calling that number, I would always be able to connect with someone who could immediately reach him. Dorothy told me that she or someone else would update the number when it changed. For years to come, that is exactly what happened.

“Stephen, I know you’re a good kid but even good kids from Beverly Hills get into trouble.”

He then stared really hard at me, in an intense way that I had never experienced before. “If you ever, and I mean, ever, get into any kind of real trouble, you have to call me.”

He then leaned back a bit and said “I want you to see me as a kind of godfather. I need to be the one you call if the shit hits the fan.”

I was somewhat taken aback by his insistence, but I was also wildly flattered, honored, and thrilled that Frank Sinatra was going to look out for me. I remember feeling an invulnerable rush of adrenaline and blurted out “Yes, sir, absolutely. I promise.”

He then said “We’re going to have some fun together, you and I. Meet me tonight at The Daisy.”

The Daisy was the club at that time in Beverly Hills. It also had the dubious distinction years later of being the club where O.J. Simpson met his future wife Nicole.

Frank then gave me one of those patented Sinatra winks, we shook hands, and I raced off in my new Corvette.

Later that night, I met Frank briefly at The Daisy where he introduced me to the people at the door, the security guys, and anyone else he could find. He let it be known that I was family and that “Stephen” should be treated as such any time I wanted to come in. Frank, who had a certain formality about him, was the first person in my life ever to call me Stephen, rather than Steve, and I grew to love being referred to by my whole name.

Frank didn’t stay long that night and I felt a bit awkward and uncomfortable there without him, so my stay was brief, too, and I headed back up Beverly Drive for the brief trip to my parents’ home.

That was one of the great birthdays of my life.

I was totally stoked (yes, it was that era) that I had entered the nightlife of Sinatra’s world and that I had the ultimate get-out- of jail-free card from The Chairman of the Board.

I felt utterly invincible, never really believing that I would ever actually call on Sinatra for that kind of assistance.

After all, as Frank had said, I was a nice Jewish kid from Beverly Hills. How could I ever get into that kind of trouble?

I had no idea that, only a few years later, I would desperately need Frank’s help.

For the time being, however, I was eighteen years old, and Frank Sinatra had decided that I should have some adult fun. That was, as my stepfather was fond of saying, a hell of a lot better than being poked in the groin with an oyster fork.

That encounter with Frank in the summer of 1964 was the beginning of a fascinating five-year period with my “godfather.”

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