Frank Sinatra Meets LBJ


“The next night, following a Big Brothers benefit, Drew Pearson and Humphrey took Sinatra to the White House for a late night visit with Lyndon Baines Johnson. Frank’s animosity towards Bobby Kennedy was the only thing that made him partially acceptable to the President, who had never forgotten Sinatra’s rebuke to his fellow Texan, House Speaker Sam Rayburn, at the 1956 Democratic National Convention, nor his idolatry of John F. Kennedy in 1960. Johnson showed his disdain when Sinatra was ushered into the Lincoln bedroom well past midnight.

Lady Bird was already in her nightgown and the President was lying on a table getting a massage. Humphrey stopped by the canopied bed to talk to Mrs. Johnson while Frank walked over to the famous mantlepiece on which Jacqueline Kennedy had hung an inscribed plaque before leaving the White House. He looked closely at the inscription: ‘In this room lived John Fitzgerald Kennedy with his wife Jacqueline– during the two years, ten months, and two days he was President of the United States– January 20, 1961– November 22, 1963.’

President Johnson watched him examining the plaque. He then jumped off the massage table, grabbed an old souvenir booklet about the White House dating back to the Kennedy administration, and thrust it in Frank’s face.

‘I don’t suppose you read, but this has lots of pictures. Here’s something else,’ he added, handing Frank one of the presidential souvenirs he gave to his women visitors. ‘It’s a conversation piece,’ he said of the lipstick with the White House seal on it. ‘It’ll make a big man of you with your woman.'”

His Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra, Kitty Kelley, Bantam Books, 1986

Photograph: Frank Wolfe, 1972