Frank Sinatra Once Urinated on the Grave of an Enemy Journalist

TL;DR: 

  • Despite his fame, Frank Sinatra was a very private person.
  • Frank Sinatra had a contentious relationship with the press and once urinated on a grave.
  • His comments about the Australian media nearly left him trapped in the country.
A black and white photo of Frank Sinatra wearing a suit.
Frank Sinatra | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

In his lifetime, Frank Sinatra was the subject of many rumors about his interpersonal relationships, political leanings, and explosive temper. While he likely got used to this given his level of fame, it didn’t mean that he liked it. He railed against the press, sometimes even escalating things beyond complaints. On one occasion, Sinatra urinated on the grave of a journalist he did not like.

Frank Sinatra valued his privacy

Though he was a massive celebrity for virtually all of his adult life, Sinatra was a private person. He gave surprisingly few interviews and tried not to show vulnerabilities, even with the people closest to him. His fourth wife, Barbara, wondered if this was because of his upbringing.

“I think that’s very Italian,” she told The New York Times. “He didn’t like anything that hit it on the nose or made things too obvious.”

In her memoir Lady Blue Eyes: My Life With Frank Sinatra, she explained that he never wrote a memoir because of this. He likely would not have divulged too much private information if he had.

“My husband was also extremely private and never wrote his memoirs, although he did consider it for a while,” she wrote. “I think if he had, though, the reminiscences would have been much more about the music than about the life.”

Frank Sinatra once urinated on the grave of a reporter he disliked

Sinatra had a notoriously short-fused temper, and he particularly did not like it when journalists wrote about him in a way that he deemed unfair. Per Rolling Stone, he was known to insult reporters and even make vague threats against them. In an example of a not-so-indirect threat, Sinatra mailed a gossip columnist a tombstone with her name on it.

In 1947, Sinatra physically attacked journalist Lee Mortimer, who he said had been “needling” him for two years in the press. Mortimer explained that he was leaving a restaurant when Sinatra attacked him.

“I saw red,” Sinatra said, per the San Pedro News Pilot. “I hit him. I’m all mixed up. I’m sorry that it happened, but I was raised in a tough neighborhood where you had to fight at the drop of a hat and I couldn’t help myself.”

Though Sinatra expressed regret, the bad feelings between himself and Mortimer did not fade. Sometime after Mortimer’s death in 1963, Sinatra and his friend drove to the writer’s grave. There, Sinatra unzipped his pants and urinated on it.

“He talked against me, wrote articles, caused me a lot of grief,” Sinatra said, per the book Hello Goodbye Hello by Craig Brown (via Vanity Fair). “I got back at him.”

The singer’s comments about the press nearly left him trapped in Australia

Sinatra’s dislike of the press nearly left him trapped in Australia during a tour. He explained to the media that he would conduct no interviews while in the country. Still, journalists swarmed him as he reached his hotel. At a concert later that night, he launched into a tirade that ended with derogatory comments about female journalists.

“They keep chasing after us,” he said, per the Sydney Morning Herald. “We have to run all day long. They’re parasites who take everything and give nothing. And as for the broads who work for the press, they’re the hookers of the press. I might offer them a buck and a half, I’m not sure.”

The Australian Journalists’ Association demanded an apology, which Sinatra refused to give. Eventually, though, trade unions refused to assist him until he apologized. When airport workers refused to help him, he issued a halfhearted apology. It doesn’t seem that his feelings toward journalists ever softened, though.

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