Loretta Lynn Wasn’t Too Scared to Tell Frank Sinatra to ‘Get the Show on the Road’

Of all the icons of old Hollywood, Frank Sinatra was supposedly one of the toughest. But that didn’t stop country music’s legendary singer, Loretta Lynn, from telling him to “get the show on the road.”

So, how did Sinatra, who was rumored to have a bit of a temper, respond to her demand? And why did she make it in the first place?

(l) Frank Sinatra in a black suit, singing into a microphone; (r) Loretta Lynn in a floral dress, singing into a microphone
(l) Frank Sinatra | NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/ Getty Images; (r) Loretta Lynn | American Broadcasting Companies/Getty Images

Loretta Lynn taught herself to sing and perform

According to Lynn, she wasn’t interested in becoming a performer as a child. That was in part because she got married and started having children as a young teenager. In fact, performing wasn’t something she knew she had a talent for until she was in her late twenties. By then, she already had four of her six kids.

Notably, she also taught herself to write her own songs and to play the guitar for her performances. To most observers, her natural talents are extremely impressive — even without knowing the music legend didn’t really seem to start nurturing them until she was almost 30.

Eventually, Lynn’s star was on the rise and she caught the ear of Sinatra. And he invited her to sing with him.

Loretta Lynn wanted Frank Sinatra to ‘get the show on the road’ because Dean Martin was drinking

On Watch What Happens Live, Lynn told Andy Cohen she loved working with Sinatra for television specials like 1977’s Sinatra and Friends. In that show, she sang a rendition of “She’s Got You” to pay tribute to her friend, Patsy Cline. Then, Sinatra joined her on the stage for a duet of his song, “All or Nothing at All.”

But she recalled worrying that Rat Pack singer, Dean Martin, would be unable to perform because he wasn’t exactly sober. “Frank, we gotta get this show on the road,” Lynn told the legendary singer. When he asked her why, she said, “Dean Martin’s getting drunk.”

It was a somewhat brave move considering Sinatra’s reputation. According to BBC, “Like the best medieval kings, he was also easily irked, prone to temper tantrums over perceived slights and sometimes blackballed previously close friends. He was a man of high standards, fond of telling people off for breaches of etiquette.”

Stories about the crooner indicate people around him were sometimes afraid to speak up. But in response to Lynn’s helpful suggestion, Sinatra told her not to worry about Martin, assuring her he would eventually “save the show” that night. And Lynn said he did, three times.

Loretta Lynn refused to sit in Dean Martin’s lap because she thought it was ‘bad manners’

Dean Martin laughing during the taping of 'The Dean Martin Variety Show' circa 1967 in Hollywood, California.
Dean Martin | Martin Mills/Getty Images

In Lynn’s autobiography, Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner’s Daughter, she recalled visiting The Dean Martin Show and being asked to sit in Martin’s lap. But she told whoever asked her no, in part because she had been married to Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn since she was 13.

“I wasn’t raised to sit in other men’s laps, not even for television,” she wrote. “I don’t sit in Doolittle’s lap in public; it’s just bad manners.”

Though she remembered “the Hollywood people” looking at her like she was “crazy,” she felt it came down to right and wrong. “Finally they said I didn’t have to, which was a good thing, because there was no way I was going to,” she concluded.

The next day, she got a dozen roses from the producer with a request to “meet the woman who wouldn’t sit on Dean Martin’s lap.”

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