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Rat Pack Confidential: Frank, Dean, Sammy, Peter, Joey and the Last Great… (1998)
by Shawn Levy
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385495765, Paperback)If you're not inclined to read individual biographies of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr., Shawn Levy's Rat Pack Confidential is a perfect one-stop resource. Less a group biography than a series of impressionistic snapshots, the book is loaded with can't-miss material--the dirt on the making of Ocean's Eleven, information about Sinatra's wild stint as a casino owner, deep background on Peter Lawford's habit of introducing Jack Kennedy to glamorous starlets, wiretap transcripts of mobsters Sam Giancana and Johnny Formosa discussiong Dean Martin's lack of respect.
Levy, whose previous book, King of Comedy, is a serious consideration of Jerry Lewis's life and career, offers similarly well considered insights into the members of the Rat Pack. He covers Davis's lifelong struggle against racism and the complicated intertwinings of the Kennedy political machine and "the Clan," as the performers preferred to be called (they often denied anything like the Rat Pack even existed and resisted collective references).
The book's debts to its predecessors are often apparent; much of the material on Sinatra's friendship with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, for example, appears to have been gleaned from recent Bogart biographies. The writing style, which tries to capture the ring-a-ding-ding feel of the era, also owes serious debts to Nick Tosches by way of James Ellroy, while only intermittently reaching their level of mastery. But these are minor quibbles. As a synthesis of thirty years worth of journalism and celebrity biography, Rat Pack Confidential succeeds in portraying the supernova blowout of old-school showbiz in all its dazzling glory.
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:36:15 -0400)
January 1960. Las Vegas is at its smooth, cool peak. The Strip is a jet-age theme park, and the greatest singer in the history of American popular music summons a group of friends there to make a movie. The marquee of the Sands Hotel announces their presence simply by listing their names: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop. Around them an entire cast gathers: actors, comics, singers, songwriters, gangsters, politicians, and women, as well as thousands of starstruck everyday folks who fork over pocketfuls of money for the privilege of basking in their presence.
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