Frank Sinatra’s Daughter Said Her Parents Worried About Kidnapping — and Their Fears Came True

Though she grew up with a massively famous father, Nancy Sinatra said that being Frank Sinatra’s daughter didn’t make her childhood very strange. Sinatra rose to prominence after Nancy was born, meaning that her early years were relatively normal. She said that things didn’t change all that much even after he began selling records. Fame made Sinatra and his wife, Nancy Barbato, worried that someone would kidnap their children, however. They eventually learned that these fears were not unfounded.

A black and white photo of Frank Sinatra and his daughters Tina and Nancy, and his son Frank, standing with their arms together.
Frank Sinatra and his children Tina, Nancy, and Frank Jr. | Bettmann/Contributor via Getty

Frank Sinatra’s daughter said her childhood was relatively normal

Sinatra’s youngest daughter Tina explained that her childhood was relatively normal, even though her father was a celebrity.

“Your parents are everything to you,” she told AZ Central in 2015. “Mine was just a parent from a bit of a greater distance. He was at times very normal and at times when we would go see him perform, you’d realize, ‘Whoa, this is not what every other kid’s dad does.’ I think there was a little bit of awe. But then again, he was the guy you didn’t want to find out that you broke a window. He was a normal father.”

She explained that their mother was much more strict with the kids, so they often relied on their father to lessen their punishments.

“Mom was the taskmaster. She was the majordomo. She didn’t let us get away with anything. So actually Dad was somewhat of a run-to to get out of a four-month grounding and reduce it to three weeks.”

Frank Sinatra’s daughter said her parents worried about their children getting kidnapped

Sinatra became famous after Nancy was born.

“He wasn’t quite on the map when I was a baby,” she told The Guardian in 2008. “He was on the road all the time with the band. We were living in a flat in New Jersey when I was born. They didn’t have any money. But once he hit, he really hit.”

The family moved to a nice house, but fans soon discovered where the singer lived. This terrified Barbato.

“Later, we moved to Hasbrouck Heights and had a lovely little house there, but you could get to the windows from the street — once people knew he lived there, they would come to get a glimpse, which worried my mother because I was a tiny little toddler, and she didn’t want anybody stealing me from the front yard.”

The singer’s son was actually kidnapped

Her concern was not without reason. In 1963, three men kidnapped Sinatra’s son, Frank Jr. They ambushed him after a show and held him hostage in a California suburb. The kidnappers demanded a $240,000 ransom, which Sinatra paid. Once they received the money, they let Frank Jr. go. 

Several days later, the FBI captured the kidnappers and reclaimed nearly all of the ransom money. While they were initially sentenced to life in prison, they all served less than five years in the end.

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