At an age when many folks are content to shuffle out to the shuffleboard on the patio behind the retirement home or tat doilies in the rocking chair on the front porch, legendary Frank Sinatra is still doing what he loves to do best - entertain and perform.
The last time he was in Salt Lake City for a professional engagement was June 15, 1957, at the old Utah State Fairgrounds Coliseum. Admission for that show ranged from $3 all the way up to $6 for reserved seating. That same weekend, Tony Pastor and his orchestra were in the spotlight at Saltair, and Billy Eckstine was featured in Lagoon's Patio Gardens.Thirty-four years later, Saltair's giant ballroom is preserved only in archival photographs or fading memories, Lagoon's "big band" struts smartly through the park instead of playing for moonlit dances, and the Utah Fairpark Coliseum is still the site for some concerts - arguably louder and probably more repulsive than anything Sinatra has ever done.
On Tuesday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. the Chairman of the Board himself, Ol' Blue Eyes, will return to Utah, bringing his stellar Diamond Jubilee World Tour to the Salt Palace Acord Arena, along with Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, comic Tom Dreesen and a 31-piece orchestra conducted by Frank Sinatra Jr.
Ticket prices this time are slightly more than they were in 1957, too - $35, $50 and top-of-the-line $75 for the VIP section. Tickets are available at the Salt Palace box office and all Smith'sTix outlets. To charge tickets by telephone to a credit card call 363-7681 or toll-free 1-800 888-7469. Some discounts are available, such as redeeming the ads from the "Les Miserables" programs for $5 off, and proceeds from some ticket sales will benefit both the Olympics project and the Utah Symphony.
The yearlong tour began Dec. 11, 1990, on the eve of Sinatra's 75th birthday, in the Meadowlands' Brendan Byrne Arena, just five miles from the singer's home town of Hoboken, N.J.
Sinatra's professional career - as a singer, actor, conductor, producer, director and general all-around superstar - has spanned more than five decades.
He has received nearly every entertainment industry award imaginable, including the Oscar (for his "best supporting role" in "From Here to Eternity"), Grammys, Emmys and the prestigious Peabody Award, along with presidential citations and dozens of humanitarian awards.
A previous record-breaking world tour, billed as "The Ultimate Event," co starred Sinatra with Liza Minnelli and Sammy Davis Jr. The concert next Tuesday night at the Salt Palace might not reach quite that stature, but it should be quite an event, nevertheless.
The evening will also mark the return of Frank Sinatra Jr., who was just a kid when he accompanied his dad to Salt Lake City in 1957 and then performed with his own band in April of 1965 at the Terrace Ballroom (with Helen Forrest and the Pied Pipers). And it will also be a comeback for Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, who last performed in Utah in the Tabernacle at Temple Square 12 years ago for the Utah Symphony's final concerts there (before moving into its new home in Symphony Hall).
The Salt Palace concert is drawing some international interest.
Bibis Samaranch, whose husband, Juan Antonio Samaranch, is president of the International Olympic Committee, is a big fan of Sinatra's. They're coming from Switzerland next week, not to tour Salt Lake's prospective Olympics facilities, but to attend the Sinatra concert.
Sinatra, who reportedly favors the Olympics being held in Utah, personally invited the couple to Salt Lake City for his concert. In addition, the backers of Salt Lake City's bid for the Winter Games didn't miss an opportunity to impress the head of the IOC. They've presented the Samaranches with a collection of all of Sinatra's movies available on videotape.
As president of the IOC, Samaranch doesn't vote, but his opinion is expected to carry considerable weight with the committee when it gathers in Great Britain in June to choose the location of the 1998 Winter Games.
A large-screen projection system will be installed in the arena for the Sinatra concert, enabling all patrons to enjoy a front-row perspective of the in-the-round presentation.
Reviews from the Diamond Jubilee tour have been raves.
The Boston Herald said, "Frank Sinatra's over-the-top performance at Great Woods last night was one of those shows where, once it's over, old-timers wink knowingly while newcomers can say they now understand why the man is considered to be one of the greatest performers of all time."
From Daily Variety: " . . . Sinatra can still belt; his dramatic performance of Rodgers & Hammerstein's lengthy, dramatic `Soliloquy' from `Carousel' was nothing less than triumphant and seems to gain impact with age."
The Los Angeles Times said, "In 1935, Frank Sinatra became a singer. By 1960, he was a legend. In 1990, he is a singer, a legend and an experience."