My Father's Daughter: A Memoir

My Father's Daughter: A Memoir


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A startling, compelling, yet affectionate portrait of an American entertainment legend by his youngest daughter, who for the first time writes about the man, his life, the accusations, and about the many people who surrounded him—wives, friends, lovers, users, and sycophants—from his Hoboken childhood through the notorious "Rat Pack," and beyond.

Complete with many never before seen photographs taken directly from family albums, and placing special emphasis on his later years and his marriage to Barbara Marx Sinatra, Tina's personal exploration of this difficult final period in her father's career will solidify our image of Sinatra as a great performer, and reinforce him as something even greater: as a father, and as a man.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780594690412
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 11/17/2015
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 315,526
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Tina Sinatra is the youngest child of the American singer and actor Frank Sinatra and his first wife, Nancy Barbato Sinatra. My Father’s Daughter is her first book.

Jeff Coplon’s writing has appeared in The New Yorker, New York magazine, The New York Times Magazine, and Rolling Stone, among other publications. He is the coauthor a dozen memoirs, notably with Tina Sinatra, Sarah Ferguson (the Duchess of York), and Cher. He is the author of Gold Buckle, the definitive treatment of rodeo bull riding (HarperOne, 1995). He resides in Brooklyn.

Read an Excerpt

As Dad's marriage entered its second decade, I heard a new concern from Vine (his majordomo at the Compound for over thirty years), who was with him more than anyone. Dad's lifestyle was becoming quiet to a fault. My father was growing more isolated, cut off from human contact.

As his wife become busier with the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center, a facility for abused children, Dad saw less of her. His own clock remained stubbornly nocturnal; his day would begin as Barbara's wound down. It gradually seemed that they were sharing an address and little more.

Nancy and I were not Dad's only losses. Jilly Rizzo wouldn't say much -- he wasn't that kind of man -- but we knew he felt unwelcome at the Compound. Thick-skinned as he was, Jilly might have put up with Barbara's cold front, but he couldn't stand to watch his best friend suffer. I knew what he was going through. There is no greater strain than to see someone you love become less than whole.

After a drink or two, according to Jilly, Barbara's mean streak would surface. She'd ridicule Dad, even call him a has-been. It could get so bad that Jilly would have to leave the room. By the mid-eighties, he'd stopped coming back. I was noticing more signs of depression in Dad. Our daily phone tradition flipped, as he initiated fewer of our calls. I'd call him instead, but I ached when I heard the sadness that resounded in three small words: "I miss you."

His emotions were easy to read; he was as transparent in conversation as in song. But the reading did me little good, because Dad was stuck in those emotions. It was no use to bring Barbara's offenses to his notice -- she wasn't going to change, and he was unable to intercede. To complain to him was like throwing rocks at a drowning man, so I decided to stop.

I just had to let Dad go.

* * * *

The less I saw of my father, the more I worried about him. By 1988, his calls had become less and less frequent. He sounded listless and groggy, especially when idle at home. I was used to his melancholy, but this was something more.

At one point, Vine reached out for help to my sister. She said that she'd been told to give Dad "these pills" every day, and she was concerned about them.

Within days, Nancy paid Dad a welcome visit. Over the weekend she perused the half-dozen prescription pill bottles on his breakfast table. She found a diuretic, a sleeping pill, a barbiturate (for dad's migraines), and a drug she'd never heard of, something called Elavil.

After doing some research, my sister grew alarmed. Though widely prescribed at the time as an antidepressant, Elavil was known for its significant side effects. The drug called for close and continual monitoring, and we feared that our father wasn't getting it. Nancy and I were also concerned about Dad taking sedatives on top of sedatives, given the fact that he still enjoyed his nightcaps. It seemed dangerous to us. But nothing we did or said made any headway. Barbara felt the Elavil was working perfectly. She said the doctor agreed that it was needed to level Dad's mood swings and spare his heart.

"Your father's actually doing very well," she told my sister. "He's feeling better. I don't want you to worry about it." Dad was less argumentative, less trouble all around. Life was easier, smoother, more predicable.

Dad's children knew that he felt well when he was feisty. Over months and years to come, that side of him would seem to disappear. Dad became strangely tractable and subdued. He expressed neither joy nor sadness; he was smack in that middle plane of nowhere.

While Dad was appearing in Reno, a trip Barbara had passed on, I flew out to meet him. I looked forward to seeing him, and to see him perform -- it had been a long time for me. But I was altogether unprepared for what I witnessed on stage that night. This consummate performer was unsure -- tentative in his demeanor, unsteady of voice. I had not witnessed this before, and could barely bring myself to watch.

Concerned, I suggested that we go up to his room after the show, but Dad wanted to stop in the lounge, where a few friends awaited us. No sooner had we ordered our drinks than Dad said he thought he'd better head to his room, after all. I stayed back a few minutes to be polite -- until I was summoned upstairs.

As I rushed into my father's room, I found him seated in a chair with his head down, pale and hyperventilating. Bill Stapely was having him breathe into a paper bag. After a long moment, it seemed to do the trick, but I was beyond terrified. According to Bill, Dad had forgotten that he'd already had his Elavil that day, and had taken a second dose by mistake.

I stayed with him till he slept, tuned to his every breath.

Dad's symptoms seemed to multiply by the month. Once the sharpest man I knew, with a phenomenal memory for numbers and dates, he became confused and forgetful. He'd get dizzy after standing up. At other times he'd lose his coordination and stumble. One day while driving, Dad found himself disoriented within blocks of the Compound. It happened only that once -- he voluntarily surrendered his keys, never drove again.

These were all textbook side effects of Elavil, and we had to wonder why Dad wasn't switched to a less sedating antidepressant. While Barbara continued to be satisfied that Dad was getting the care he needed, his decline was a painful thing to watch.

For the better part of his life, my father was a reluctant pill taker, one who'd treat a splitting headache with baby aspirin. He would never have accepted this smorgasbord of medications had he not been so depressed, so out of touch with himself.

Excerpted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Copyright © 2000 by Tina Sinatra.

What People are Saying About This

Liz Smith

I just spent two riveting days reading the new Tina Sinatra book, My Father's Daughter. No Sinatra fan will want to miss this candid, straightforward recital of family love, hate, despair, desertion, devotion and unfulfilled desire.
Anyone who has ever spoken to Tina, the youngest of the three Sinatra kids, knows she is a "no bull- - - -" kind of father's daughter, profane, proud, touchy. In this heartfelt valentine to the most famous daddy in showbiz, she has anointed her tale with dollops of cynicism and heartbreak. She doesn't pull punches. Her father may have been a sometimes parent, often filled with rage and torment, but he was hers and she worshipped him, even when he failed her, siblings, Nancy and Frank Jr., and their loyal mother.
The book, written with Jeff Coplon, is a masterpiece of fast, furious, staccato sentences. This may be the writer's touch, but I prefer to think the style is Tina, all the way... You won't be able to put down this bold remembrance of what it was like to be a part of the Sinatra legend, of the divorce from her mother and the way Frank and Nancy Sr., went on for years in a meaningful relationship. There are Tina's tales of Ava and Mia and the other women she was pleased to see try to make her father happy. And then came Barbara Marx. At first, Tina was inclined to give Barbara a break, but in the end, the picture she paints of Sinatra's last marriage is not pretty.
This is an amazing work, bound for best-seller status, and Tina Sinatra deserves to be proud of it. One wonders what Francis Albert would have thought of his little girl and her gaudy guts? Deep down - despite the years spent trying to placate Barbara - I'll bet Sinatra would be proud of Tina's passion and fiery need to tell what she feels is the whole truth - and nothing but.

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My Father's Daughter 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had read this book a year or 2 ago, and being a big Sinatra fan (big rat pack fan actually), I thought the book was very endearing. It gave you a inside look of what it was like to grow up around that type of Hollywood Royalty. And the heartfelt sorrow that also went with it towards the end of his life. I'm very curious now to read Babs(Sinatra's 4th wife) biography and compare the stories, to what were given from his daughters eyes.view
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the greatest biography/autobiography ever. She told it like it was, and how she felt, just like she should of. I laughed, cried, and was extremely angry at Barbara Marx for treating Frank Sinatra like that. I think it was an excellent book. Frank Sinatra is a legend, an icon, and more than a generous man. And Tina Sinatra told that. It made you feel like a Sinatra.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think this was the best book that I have read yet. it show's Frank Sinatra the father, not Frank Sinatra the singer-actor-painter. its about a father and daugters relationship with each other. over all I praise Tina for speaking her mind on Barbara and her fathers mistakes. even if your not a Sinatra fan you will enjoy this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I read the epilogue, I cried. This book is a loving tribute to a father she adorned and a performer we all loved. May he rest in peace.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book forced me to know the man behind the legend, through his daughter's eyes. Tina clearly brings the truth to the surface, as she sees it. Sadness, bitterness, thought-provoking details, and a powerful love of a daughter for her legendary father. This is a portrait of a man as told from the heart.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the insight into the Sinatra family. Reading about their famous friends many who are now deceased. It put the family and FS on a realistic level. The family devotion was very touching. The book gave me a whole new appreciation for Frank Sinatra. Thank you Tina.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I wish she had provided more information about his earlier years, specifically how he broke into the business. I thought it was poignant testimony of a daughter's devotion to her father, but also I had the sense that her life revolved too much around his. The story was mostly sad, but honest.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
enjoyed every minute of the book. learned things i never knew before, and cried at the end.
Anonymous 10 months ago
A great biography book, love it! I’m a huge fan of his music.
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jimpol More than 1 year ago
This book was well done and presented a good view of the private Sinatra. Barbara Marx-Sinatra was married to Frank for 20 years and some of what irritated Tina seems petty. Had Frank not been happy he would have and could have packed up and walked out. To balance it I should read Barbara's version but I suspect she did not attack Frank's children.
Ann89 More than 1 year ago
Barbara's book was very good. Why do they blame her for anything when it was THEIR father who divorced their mother! Hello...........
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Guest More than 1 year ago
While the time frame of the book is sometimes confusing, I found the book to be entertaining and an overall success. A book of lifes' lessons. While they are not always fair, they certainly hit close to home.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I waited months to read this book because it was costly in hardback.One day I walked into a Barnes & Noble store in Grand Rapids, Michigan and there it was for 75% off. I am so glad that my instinct told me to wait until it came down in p-roice because I would have wasted over $20.00 for a story about a very dysfunctional family and the wicked stepmother. There really was no story aboiut how Frank Sinatra started out in details. The interview she gave on 60 minutes took about about 3 pages to say it all over again. They were probably the best part of the book. Tina's paid back the wicked, controlling stepmother and described how the stepmother kept the Sinatra children away from their dad and manipulated Frank while he was ill. Being Italian and growing up on the east coast I smiled as I read about how the sauce was called gravy, how the mother stood by her husband and kept the family together, GOd bless her. If you can get the book for 75% off, then read it and form your own opinion.