Japan Today : ‘The Way It Was’ taps aging Sinatra’s highs, lows.

By Douglass K Daniel

Frank Sinatra’s prime years as a singer were long behind him when Eliot Weisman managed his career. Yet even into his 70s “the Voice” could deliver what fans wanted or were willing to settle for. The challenge Weisman soon faced was how to showcase the best of a septuagenarian Sinatra while playing down the ravages of time and handling the unexpected — like Golda Meir’s Uzi.

Anecdotes are the diamonds and lessons about problem-solving the gold to be mined in “The Way It Was: My Life with Frank Sinatra.” Weisman and co-author Jennifer Valoppi recount his 20-year relationship with Sinatra, one based on business and nurtured with trust and friendship. Other celebrities pop up, notably Liza Minnelli and Sammy Davis Jr, but the authors know who sells books even two decades after his death and salt Weisman’s memoir with Sinatra minutiae.

About that Uzi: Weisman became accustomed to the idea that Sinatra often carried a concealed handgun while touring. But he didn’t expect to find a submachine gun, a gift from the grandmother of Israel, hidden aboard Sinatra’s jet.

In the early 1980s Weisman built his talent management company around Sinatra, who kept Weisman busy overseeing his career and finding venues for him at home and abroad. Sinatra needed the work if he wanted to keep flying on private jets, frequenting the best hotels and restaurants, picking up checks, bestowing jewelry on his wife and slipping money to friends and strangers enduring tough times.

Near the end of their book Weisman and Valoppi write, “These are the stories that are rarely told about icons … the stories of decline.” Like the time Weisman discovered Sinatra trimming his toupee and explaining, “You can’t believe how fast it’s growing.”

Actually, much of “The Way It Was” is a story of decline. For years age had been taking a toll on Sinatra’s vision and hearing. More and more often he forgot lyrics. There were fears that weaning Sinatra off an antidepressant blamed for his memory loss would lead to belligerent fits. For safety’s sake someone filed down the firing pin on his handgun.

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