NEW YORK—No one but the rattiest member of the Rat Pack would have dared call the Chairman of the Board a porn star to his face, but biographers get to say whatever they want, as long as the subject is no longer alive. That’s apparently the case with Frank Sinatra biographer Darwin Porter, who spent decades researching Frank Sinatra: The Boudoir Singer, which was released Nov. 8.
According to the Daily Mail, Porter writes in the bio that as a homeless and hungry youngster, the future Ol’ Blue Eyes was persuaded to appear in a blue movie.
“He was paid $100 for his contribution to a 1934 movie called The Masked Bandit at the age of 19, and spent the rest of his life hoping it would stay a secret,” the paper reported.
People close to the world famous singer and actor knew about the existence of the skin flick, however, and it was one of those who told Porter.
“[Porter] says he was told about the film by British actor Peter Lawford, one of the five members of the Rat Pack—Sinatra’s gang of movie pals from the 1960s which also included Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jnr.” Davis, said Lawford, had somehow acquired a copy, and in 1972 he played a trick on Sinatra by “inserting footage of the movie into a reel of the porn film Deep Throat, which he then screened for a guest list that included Sinatra.
“Because Sinatra was masked, nobody at the private screening except Lawford, Davis and Sinatra knew who the skinny teenager frolicking with two naked actresses was,” reported the Mail. “The Rat Pack often played pranks on each other but Sinatra wasn’t amused. He masked his anger to keep the secret and, says Porter, was going to ‘cut Sammy Davis Jnr off for life, but then realized Davis might reveal his secret.’ Davis later agreed to destroy his copy of The Masked Bandit.”
Lawford also writes that Bandit surfaced years later when the makers of a documentary on Hollywood stars who go the flesh route before hitting it big planned to use a segment from the Sinatra movie.
“When Frank heard about this, he called his friends in the mob,” wrote Porter. “The bandit loop never resurfaced.”
Some suggest it did not resurface because it never existed in the first place. Another Sinatra biographer, James Kaplan, author of Frank: The Making of a Legend, said he has not heard about the Sinatra porn movie and theorized that Lawford, who had a famous falling out with the singer in the 1960s, may have made the whole thing up.
Unless an actual copy of that ancient skin flick is unearthed, we may never know if the star of From Here to Eternity and the heart throb of his day was also the James Deen of his day.
It may just warrant an Indiana Jones-like excursion down into the AVN catacombs (which twist and turn for miles beneath the unsuspecting streets of Chatsworth) to look through the cobwebbed 1930s shelves for The Masked Bandit. I just hope Frank isn’t down there waiting for me.
Photo: The real rat pack: (l. to r.) Lawford, Martin, Davis, Sinatra. Joey Bishop was busy that day.