Frank Sinatra’s Beverly Hills A Tour of His Favorite Haunts
By Abbey Hood
Look at the photo of Frank Sinatra on the cover of Life Magazine.
We often hear it’s an iconic photo of the legend that went by “Mr. Sinatra” or to some, “Mr. S.”
He’s got a big smile underneath his trademark fedora.
Peeking out from his orange v-neck sweater is a white turtleneck.
Orange seemed to pop up everywhere in Sinatra’s life.
“It’s the happiest color,” he said. He incorporated the creamsicle color for his shag rugs in his Palm Springs retreat, the inside of his personal plane and even his office.
But from the iconic photo, you can’t smell the Dunhill cologne he loved to wear. You can’t watch him eat his Eskimo pie (one of his favorites), or chew a tootsie roll before heading to the studio to keep his throat from getting dry.
The picture shows readers a peek of his dark tan, but it hides his love for Coppertone Suntan Lotion.
The photo can’t show you the world that we say was, “Frank Sinatra’s and we just so happened to live in it.”
This world existed often in Beverly Hills: whether it was dining at his favorite Italian restaurant La Dolce Vita or hanging out at The Candy Store disco, which for a time belonged to Sinatra and his “rat pack.”
The Courier gives you this glance into Frank Sinatra’s Beverly Hills.
Edelweiss Chocolates of Beverly Hills
Yes, Frank Sinatra loved his Jack Daniels, his women and his song.
But Sinatra had another love—something that unlike the others, always loved him back: Maple Pecan Creams from Edelweiss Chocolates of Beverly Hills, a staple on Canon Drive since 1942.
Sinatra’s wife, Barbara Marx, and daughter, Nancy, still purchase those Maple Creams to send out during the holidays, according to the store’s current owner Madlen Zahir.
The chocolate store at 444 N. Canon was made famous in an episode of I Love Lucy where Lucille Ball and Ethel work in a chocolate factory. It was inspired by the confectioner machine that still operates in the back of the store. Edelweiss still remains the number one choice for chocolates for celebrities Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and even Madonna.
The Candy Store Disco
Those who have lived long enough in Beverly Hills to actually remember spotting Sinatra cruise Beverly or Canon drives, can attest to the fact that this City has never been one with a roaring nightlife.
But there was a well-known disco that changed things, at least for a little while.
It was called, “The Candy Store,” and accessible only to those with names like “Frank Sinatra.”
The Candy Store was a joint venture by Beverly Hills hairstylist Gene Shacove and actors Tony Curtis and George Hamilton, according to Sinatra’s right hand man, author George Jacobs.
“The Candy Store was the ‘disco of the moment’ and in Beverly Hills, the place to be,” states Jacobs his book, Mr. S: My Life With Frank Sinatra.
882 Doheny Drive
It looks as if time hasn’t touched the matte white, retro apartment building on the southeast corner of 882 Doheny Drive.
This is where Sinatra kept a “crash pad, to use as a home away from home,” according to Beverly Hills resident and entertainment news writer Hal Lifson.
“During these years, he always had a home in Beverly Hills,” said Lifson, who worked as Nancy Sinatra’s publicist for eight years.
Sinatra preferred very quiet, private times for himself and found it hard to come by at his homes, so he retreated to the crash pad, Lifson said.
“He stayed at the apartment quite a bit in the early ’60s when he was running with the likes of the Kennedys and the ‘Rat Pack.’”
Marilyn Monroe also had a residence at 882 Doheny; it was the last place she lived before that fateful move to the Brentwood home, where she died in 1962.
It was not her first time in the building, she had lived there once before in the 50s, when her marriage with Joe DiMaggio ended, said Lifson.
At the time, Sinatra redeveloped a relationship with Monroe and saw himself as sort of her protector, a brother type, according to Lifson.
Sinatra lived in his home at 915 North Foothill with wife Barbara in the late 1980s and 1990s; it was the home he died in, according to Lifson.
Of his three homes, Malibu, Palm Springs and Beverly Hills, his home on 915 Foothill was the one his children most often would visit because they too lived in Beverly Hills, said Lifson.
His daughter Nancy, in fact, purchased her first home in Beverly Hills off Coldwater Canyon on Betty Lane, according to Lifson. The home was featured in the 1967 television special, Movin’ With Nancy.
915 Foothill is now owned by grandson of the late American talent agent and studio executive Lew Wasserman, Casey Wasserman.
When Sinatra craved Chinese Food, he always went to a place called Ah Fong’s in Beverly Hills, according to longtime Beverly Hills resident Peter Bernard.
A Mandarin Chinese restaurant owned by the late actor Benson Fong, it was “very popular for celebrities in the 1940s and 1950s,” says Bernard.
“Everyone in Hollywood used to go there,” he says. “Sinatra and Fong were very close.”
Ah Fong’s was located at 424 North Beverly Drive, the current site of Aqua Lounge.
Good Shepherd Catholic Church
Although people close to Sinatra say the singer wasn’t very religious, they claim he went to Good Shepherd, 505 N. Bedford, during Academy Award season, states Jacobs.
When he died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in 1998, his wife Barbara held his funeral services at the Catholic church, according to Bernard.
He was buried, however, not in Beverly Hills, but his other favorite place, near Palm Springs in Rancho Mirage.
Good Shepherd Catholic Church is the City’s oldest church; it has been the location for many celebrity funerals including Sinatra, Rudolph Valentino and Merv Griffin.
La Dolce Vita
Enter into the dark building that looks more like a wine cellar then a restaurant on Little Santa Monica and you will unlock the world of Frank Sinatra.
Good food, good drinks, and good company: La Dolce Vita was Sinatra’s favorite Italian restaurant.
He loved the eggplant parmigiana and the Chicken picada, said Lifson.
He had two booths. One was located in the front of the room so he could get a birds-eye view of the diners and the other was a more private table nestled in the back, said Lifson.
After his death, the owner of La Dolce Vita hung a photo of Sinatra above the booth in honor of the legend.
Sinatra threw his daughter Nancy a record release party for These Boots Are Made for Walking when La Dolce Vita first opened in January of 1966, according to Lifson.
A very private restaurant with no windows and therefore remains a destination for many celebrities including young Hollywood types and the old school Nancy Reagans likes.
A whole new generation of Sinatra types-George Clooney and Brad Pitt have attached themselves to the Rat Pack legacy at La Dolce Vita, 9785 Santa Monica Blvd.
Top Five “Coolest Sinatra Albums” For Your Beverly Hills Frank Sinatra Listening Experience
1) Sinatra and Basie It Might As Well Be Swing (1964) This is a testosterone fueled swingin’ Frank album with arrangements by Quincy Jones, soaring Count Basie big band charts, and classic tunes like Fly Me To The Moon Wives and Lovers, and “I Believe In You.” A must for a drive down Wilshire Blvd!
2) Come Fly With Me (1957) Billy May’s creative and punchy arrangements are top notch. The best Sinatra concept album and the first stereo LP on Capitol in the ’50s. Includes Moonlight In Vermont Autumn In New York and Let’s Get Away From It All. Classic cover art with Frank reaching out for the hand of a lucky gal about to take jump on a TWA Big Bird with Uncle Frank!
3) Sinatra and Swingin’ Brass (1962) This album is one of my personal faves. It has arrangements by Neal Hefti (The Odd Couple Barefoot In The Park and TV’s Batman theme) and great songs that simmer and swing without hitting overdrive. Perfect album to listen to pool side at the Beverly Hills Hotel and classic water color art on cover a la LeRoy Neiman style. Includes I Get A Kick Out Of You and Tangerine. On older copies of this CD, you get the incredibly cool Frank single Everybody’s Twistin’ as a Bonus Track.
4) Come Dance With Me (1958) A Hard driving set with Billy May arrangements. The hardest swing album of the Capitol album series. Classic photo of Frank on the cover winking, with fedora on. Includes Too Close For Comfort Something’s Gotta Give and Bonus Track How Are Ya’ Fixed For Love? a playful duet with Keely Smith.
5) Francis Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim (1967) One of the best Reprise albums with incredible Bossa Nova arrangements by Claus Ogerman. A deluxe edition of this album and a later one done by Sinatra and Jobim was recently released. A must for the true Sinatra fan as this musical combination was truly inspired! Bossa Nova was born in the ’60s and Sinatra made this style his own here on this album.
Old school fans: A lot of great Sinatra music can be heard on our own Beverly Hills radio station Retro 1260 AM, which is also online at Retro1260.com. They play a lot of Frank’s catalog and other Great American Songbook artists like: Tony Bennett, Harry Connick, Jr. and Nat King Cole, with hardly any commercials. On weekends they go more “pop” and play a lot of ’60s music. The station is owned by Saul Levine, who is a loyal supporter of this genre.
-Compiled by Pop Culture Historian Hal Lifson. Lifson is an entertainment writer and Beverly Hills resident who served as Nancy Sinatra’s publicist from 1994 to 2002 and co-produced all the CD reissues of her classic ’60s Reprise label albums.