Nancy Sinatra Sr., Frank’s First Wife, Dead at 101

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Nancy Barbato Sinatra, the first wife of Frank Sinatra and mother of the singer who shares her first name, died Friday (July 13) at age 101. Nancy Jr., best known for her #1 1966 hit “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” confirmed, in a tweet, the death of her mother. The place and cause of death were not reported.

Nancy Jr. later followed up the initial tweet with one thanking fans:

“My sister and I thank you all for your very thoughtful messages of condolence. 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.”

Related: Sinatra’s last wife, Barbara, died nearly a year ago

Nancy Rose Barbato was born in Jersey City, N.J., on March 25, 1917. In 1934 she met Frank Sinatra, who lived in neighboring Hoboken and was working as a lifeguard on the Jersey Shore at the time. The couple married in 1939 and divorced in 1951, after Sinatra had experienced the first rush of his unprecedented fame.

They had three children: Nancy (born in 1940), Frank Jr. (born in 1944, died 2016) and Tina (born in 1948). Both Nancy Jr. and Frank Jr. became professional singers.

Related: Frank Sinatra Jr. dies at 72

Frank Sinatra would remarry three times, while Nancy Sr. never remarried. Even after their divorce, the former couple reportedly remained close until Frank’s death in 1998.

Although her husband’s lifestyle was not one with which Nancy felt comfortable, she traveled with him on tour, sewed his stage outfits and cooked for him on the road and at home. According to her obituary in the New York Times, she also traveled with him to Hollywood when Frank moved into motion pictures, and stuck with him through rumors of affairs. Frank ultimately left Nancy when he took up with actress Ava Gardner, who became his second wife in 1951. Nancy retained custody of the couple’s three children.

Following their divorce, the article states, the former Mrs. Sinatra led a quiet life and rarely discussed their marriage in public.

Frank Sinatra mistakenly believed that the Jimmy Van Heusen-Phil Silvers composition “Nancy (With the Laughing Face)” was written with his wife or daughter in mind. It was not (in fact, the woman in the title was originally Bessie), but the authors never told him that, and Sinatra always sang it with them in mind.

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  1. Carole
    #1 Carole 14 July, 2018, 13:59

    Frank didn’t divorce Nancy in 1951 when he got his first taste of fame (he had been a big hit in concerts, records, and movies for years by then) He divorced her because he was infatuated with Ava Gardner.

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