Remembering Frank Part 2
Recently there have been a number of flicks on the tube starring Frank Sinatra. They reminded me of the many times I interfaced with the singer in Reno, Tahoe and Vegas. The most memorable follows:
An interesting side note to the local press was that unbeknownst to any of us, an enterprising young reporter Walt MacKenzie availed himself of a room service waiter’s uniform and delivered some drinks to Frank’s room. As far as I know he was the only member of the press who got a glimpse of Frank during his stay. Another newspaper item that broke during Frank’s stay at the hotel occurred when I was called to figure out how to get Frank outside for some exercise. From his room we went to the back of the hotel where the freight elevator was located and took it to the kitchen of the Skyroom at the top of the building. From there we took the short flight of stairs to the roof. We walked around the roof of the hotel for about 45 minutes. During that time Frank was fairly noncommittal and kept staring at the easily visible mountains saying, “He’s up there somewhere, Harry.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the FBI agent had confided in me that the longer the boy was missing, the less likely was the chance that he would be found alive.
As it turned out later Frank, Jr. was nowhere near Lake Tahoe. At the time he was abducted he was appearing at Harrah’s South Shore and his captors were able to get out of the lake area before the roads were closed. They were hiding Junior at their secret hideaway in sunny Southern California rather than the frigid confines of Lake Tahoe.
As far as Frank’s physical appearance was concerned, he looked gaunt and haggard and a very concerned parent. I thought to myself that he was suffering from a triple whammy in that his former good friend President Kennedy had been assassinated, he had lost his gaming license, and now the final blow – the kidnapping of his son. Shortly after our first trip to the roof the top photographer in Reno, the late Don Dondero, showed up in my office. He said that he had a juicy assignment from the wire service to see if he could get a picture of Frank senior. I told him that I would be walking Frank on the roof the next morning and that I would give him a call when we were about to go up there. I suggested he position himself near one of the large windows in the men’s restroom on the 14th floor of the First National Bank building across the street from the Mapes which would afford him a commanding view of the roof of the hotel. When the appointed time came I maneuvered Frank to the north side of the roof and we stopped there for a brief moment. Later I got a call from Dondero and he said he had gotten a perfect shot. The next morning a photo that covered half of the front page of the San Francisco Examiner featured the roof of the Mapes with two tiny figures. Frank was the one wearing the hat.