Nancy Sinatra Sr, the childhood sweetheart of Frank Sinatra who became the first of his four wives and the mother of his three children, has died. She was 101.
Her daughter, Nancy Sinatra Jr, tweeted that her mother died on Friday.
My mother passed away peacefully tonight at the age of 101. She was a blessing and the light of my life. Godspeed, Momma. Thank you for everything. 😢💙
— Nancy Sinatra (@NancySinatra) July 14, 2018
Nancy and Frank Sinatra had been dating as teenagers and married at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic church in Jersey City, New Jersey, on February 4, 1939, just as Frank’s singing career was about to take off.
Three years before marrying the former Nancy Barbato, he had landed a 15-minute radio show on local station WAAT.
During the marriage’s early years, the Sinatras lived in a modest apartment in Jersey City, where their two eldest children were born. For a time she was employed as a secretary while her husband worked as a singing waiter.
After Sinatra became a pop-music sensation in the 1940s, the couple moved to Los Angeles, where the singer would also become a movie star, raconteur, man about town and notorious womaniser.
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Rest In Peace Nancy “Barbato” Sinatra, Sr., 1917-2018 The beloved Sinatra matriarch, beloved mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Sinatra’s greatest morale boosters. ❤️🎙🎶 📸: She died Friday, according to her daughter Nancy. "My mother passed away peacefully tonight at the age of 101. She was a blessing and the light of my life. Godspeed, Momma. Thank you for everything," she tweeted Friday. The cause and setting of the death was not given. Nancy Barbato met Sinatra, then a little-known jazz singer from Hoboken, N.J., in the summer of 1934 in Long Branch, N.J., and they were married on Feb. 4, 1934. Together the three had three children, @nancysinatra Born, 1940- Francis Wayne, “Frank Jr.” (1944-2016) and Tina Sinatra, 1948-. Sinatra leaves behind three grandchildren, Michael via, Frank Sinatra, Jr., and AJ Lambert and Amanda Erlinger (Lambert) Via Nancy Jr. And two great-grandchildren. She is also survived by one sister.
That latter accomplishment led Sinatra to leave him after an affair with actress Ava Gardner became public knowledge. Weeks after the pair’s divorce became final in 1951, Sinatra’s ex-husband married Gardner, while Sinatra went on to raise the couple’s three children: Nancy, Frank Jr and Tina.
After the gossip over the divorce and Gardner marriage died down, Nancy Sinatra devoted herself to family and numerous celebrity friends, largely withdrawing from the spotlight.
She not only outlived her husband, who died in 1998, but her son, who died in 2016.
She is credited, under the name Nancy Barbato, on the Internet Movie Database with just two TV and film appearances, in her daughter Nancy’s 1975 concert film, “Nancy and Lee in Las Vegas,” and in 1974 on her friend Dinah Shore’s talk show.
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RIP to Nancy Barbato Sinatra (1917-2018), the first wife of legendary performer Frank Sinatra (1915-1998), who has passed away at the age of 101 😞🙏🏼💖. The mother of Sinatra’s 3 children, 2 of whom survive her, she was married to Sinatra from 1939 until 1951. Prayers for her friends and family 😞🙏🏼💖. #nancybarbato #nancysinatra #nancysinatrasr #nancybarbatosinatra #rip #gonebutneverforgotten #gonebutnotforgotten #oldhollywood #classichollywood #vintagehollywood #franksinatra
In later years she would become known as Nancy Sr, especially after daughter Nancy became a 1960s singing star in her own right with “These Boots Are Made For Walking” and other hit songs.
She also remained friendly with her ex-husband, the latter being said to have put in requests over the years for pasta and other Italian food dishes she was known to be an expert at preparing. She never remarried.
“There is no bitterness, only great respect and affection between Sinatra and his first wife,” Gay Talese wrote in 1966, “and he has long been welcome in her home and has even been known to wander in at odd hours, stoke the fire, lie on the sofa, and fall asleep.”