Nancy Sinatra Sr., First Wife of Frank Sinatra, Dies at 101

Nancy Sinatra Sr., the first of Frank Sinatra’s four wives and the mother of the legendary singer’s three children, died Friday. She was 101.

Sinatra’s daughter, pop singer Nancy Sinatra, who had a 1966 hit with “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” confirmed her mother’s death on Twitter and the Sinatra family’s website.

“Our mother was a fighter until the end when her brave, loving heart gave out. She is survived by her sister, her daughters, her grandchildren and her great grandchildren. She made a difference,” Nancy Sinatra Jr. wrote on Twitter Saturday morning.

Nancy Sinatra Sr. was 17-year-old Nancy Rose Barbato, the dark-haired daughter of a Jersey City, N.J., plastering contractor, when she met a skinny, 18-year-old fledgling singer from Hoboken in the summer of 1934 while they were vacationing on the Jersey Shore.

“I was a poor, lonely and discouraged kid when I met her,” Frank Sinatra told American Weekly in 1952. “In Nancy, I found beauty, warmth and understanding.”

Frank and Nancy were married Feb. 4, 1939, in a Catholic church in Jersey City, where they set up housekeeping in a three-room apartment.

The frugal young bride bargain-hunted at the grocery store and sewed her own clothes; she once cut up one of her dresses and used the material to make a bow tie for Frank that would match what he planned to wear on a singing job. During their early years, she later said, she made all of his bow ties.

As newlyweds, Nancy was working as a $25-a-week secretary and Frank was working as a $25-a-week singing waiter and master of ceremonies at the Rustic Cabin, a roadhouse in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

Several months after the wedding, trumpeter Harry James heard Frank sing and hired him to be the featured male vocalist in his new orchestra.

As Frank’s singing career took off and then soared — he was named top male band vocalist by Billboard in 1941 — Nancy gave birth to their children: Nancy in 1940, Frank Jr. in 1944 and Christina in 1948.

The Sinatras’ marriage, however, was a far cry from the storybook image presented in fan magazines.

Frank, whose work frequently took him away from home, was a legendary womanizer, and Nancy reportedly was frequently humiliated by her husband’s flings and affairs.

(Excerpt) Read more in: NOLA

Nancy Sinatra Sr., First Wife of Frank Sinatra, Dies at 101