Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms house in Palm Springs has many visitors, but how long since anyone opened the mailbox? A very long time, judging by the big jam-up inside. Of course, we had to open everything. Here’s a sampling:
- Letter from Dean Martin about his son’s singing group, Dino, Desi & Billy, being more successful than Nancy and her Boots. “All right, let’s admit, both of them got a nice start in the business because you own Reprise Records. And Lee Hazlewood was in the middle of it all. Yes, Nancy’s the better-trained one. But Dino’s an original talent. The fact that his career faded so soon can be summed up in a line from the Good Book: ‘No prophet is accepted in his own country.’”
- Gold record. It was Hello Dummy,” by Don Rickles, who had lacquered the LP from a spray can and included a note saying, “I got one, too!”
- Spiegel catalog, addressed to Ava. She had sent off a subscription card to Der Spiegel, the news magazine from Hamburg, but the postmaster thought her German deficient and arranged the tasteful panoply of women’s fashion instead.
- Letter from Frank to Elvis marked, “Return to Sender, No Such Person.”
- Bill from the City of Indio after Frank and Ava’s gin-soaked excursion there at two-thirty in the morning, which entailed the firing of snub-nosed .38s at traffic signals, streetlights, and store windows from a Cadillac convertible. As it turns out, the $30,000 “bail” that publicist Jack Keller paid was so far off the books that the unwitting City continued to seek damage compensation for decades.
- Note on City of Palm Springs stationery from Frank Bogert, the cowboy mayor, for endowing the place with perpetual glitz.
- I.O.U. from Peggy Lee. “How can I ever repay you for putting me on your jet after my open-heart surgery? You brought me home from New Orleans to L.A., called St. John’s hospital all those times to check on me, and then came to visit me with white flowers in hand.”
- For-sale solicitation from Howie Hughes. “I’m about dead from general decrepitude and drug abuse, so I’m offering you my tri-level on Rim Road. The view is much better than you had at Twin Palms. Also, if you keep things original, the mint-green wall oven will be a knockout in about 40 years. We shared Ava and Lana. Now we can share a house.”
- Photos from Catherine G. Clapsaddle, of Elyria, Ohio, and her brindled mastiff. There were two 8x10s. The mastiff, Prunella, had just defeated a standard poodle, a Weimaraner, and a pair of double dapple dachshunds in a steeplechase and wore her blue ribbon with assurance. Catherine had dressed in checked wool with a little paisley silk at the neck and Tiffany on the lobes. Her handwritten message made it very clear what she wanted of Frank. She wanted him to to get her and Prunella onto Johnny Carson’s show.
- Card from Liberace: “Damn your tuxedos, Frank! I so wanted to see you in lamé and feathers.”
Next week: Overlooking Ava’s rough approximation about Frankie’s enormousness, what might we find in Sinatra’s drawers?
* Thank you to biographers James Kaplan and James Gavin.