Frank Sinatra, who was born 100 years ago today, is best known for his singing, but he also made significant contributions to movies. Many of those films have been shown at the Michigan Theater and the Redford Theatre as part of their classic film series.

Those screenings have provided many memorable images:

  • Singing and acting with Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh (1945) and On the Town (1949).
  • Performing “Ol’ Man River” at the end of Till the Clouds Roll By (1946). Only Sinatra could pull off the feat of wearing white formal clothes in a pristine studio setting while singing a song that was written for a black boat hand.
  • Wisecracking his way through Guys and Dolls (1955).
  • Belting out “The Lady is a Tramp” to a bemused Rita Hayworth in Pal Joey (1957).
  • Investigating political intrigue in The Manchurian Candidate (1962).
  • Vainly chasing a train at the end of Von Ryan’s Express (1965).
  • Most memorably, his Academy Award-winning performance as the free-spirited and tragic Maggio in From Here to Eternity (1953).

Sinatra also was a popular draw at area theaters when his movies were first released, including November 1957, when The Pride and the Passion screened at the Redford and Pal Joey opened at the Michigan in downtown Detroit.

But Sinatra is best know for his music, and the Barton theater organs at the Michigan and Redford have been used for excellent performances of songs that he made famous.

These performances have included selections from the album Come Fly with Me by Henry Aldridge at the Michigan. Over at the Redford, John Lauter has performed “I Have Dreamed” and Justin LaVoie has done “Here’s That Rainy Day.”

It’s the Christmas season, so a fitting way to end this birthday tribute is a selection from Sinatra’s beautiful 1957 Christmas album:

Detroit Movie Palaces Home Page

Copyright © 2015 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.


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