Updated: Oct 7, 2019
December 12, 1976
“I've got the world on a string,”Sinatra sang in his inimitable style to an adoring audience at the Circus Maximusin Caesar’sPalace Las Vegas. What a voice!
Frank Sinatra was a fastidious dresser, everyone knew that. They maybe didn’t know he had to pick out everything himself—the fabric, the color, the style. And it had to be top of the line. How he looked was as important to him as how he sang.
I was backstage where everything from his suit and shirts to his aftershave was laid out for him. I was waiting for him to finish his performance so I could present him several new suits I had just made of Italianbiella wool, very expensive and hard to get.
The stage lights dimmed, I heard the crowd clamor for an encore. He went out, took a bow, but that was it—he was done. Frank hurried off the stage, saw me, stopped, kicked off his shoes, and stepped out of his trousers.
“You sure killed ‘em with that last song.”
I hoped I said the right thing. Sometimes I didn’t. The trouble with Sinatra was he blew hot and cold, and you never who you’d get: Frank or Francis?
“Thanks, Umberto,” he said, handing me the slacks. “Crisp creases, right?”
“Of course, Frank.”
I carefully folded the pants and put them to one side. Dangling his coat on two fingers he thrust it into my face.
“C’mon Umberto. I gotta’ pee!”
“Okay. But when you come back you gotta’ try on these beautiful new suits. How about if I bring them to your dressing room? I’ll meet you there.”
“Naa. Have Jilly send 'em up to my suite.”
“I gotta’ make sure they fit right.”
“Whaddya’ mean you gotta’ make sure they fit?’ You made ‘em. Whatsa’ matter with you. Huh?”
“Sorry, Frank. Look. You put on a few pounds. I maybe need to make a few adjustments.”
“Really? Screw you!”
Sinatra grinned, grabbed my cheek and pinched it, hard.
He made a beeline down the corridor, shirttails flapping, legs bare except for his long black silk socks.
“And forget about that white tux on the rack!” He yelled over his shoulder. “What a clown suit! Who the hell wears bell-bottoms and gold studs these days?”
I laughed “That one’s not for you. It’s for Elvis!”
He turned and gave me a thumbs-up.
“Dinner at the Bacchus in one hour.Don’t be late. It’’ll be a helluva party. You’re gonna’ have fun, Umberto!
“Sure thing, Frank! Thanks! And Happy Birthday, by the way!”
Off he went, disappearing into the bathroom. The fitting would have to wait.