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Post Office and Post Mortem

Sinatrastamp_4 They had kept the news of Freddie Fields‘ death from the Sinatra family at this morning’s unveiling  of the Postal Service’s Frank Sinatra Commemorative Stamp. (It is Sinatra’s 92nd birthday). Tina and  Nancy Jr. had been represented at one time or another in their respective careers by Freddie, Tina sadly told me this afternoon. And further, she warmly recalled that “Freddie was often mistaken for dad — in his later years.” Several others had made that same observation to  me of their look-alikeness.

While it was the three Sinatras who spoke of their father — and the Postal honor — there were other family members on hand. Nancy Sinatra Senior (91) who recalled to me that Frank had once been a stamp collector himself in their young marriage. Also on hand today, Frank’s granddaughter, Amanda Erlinger, Nancy Jr.’s  youngest daughter, who designed the dramatic invitation to the event.

The stamp itself is based on a 1950’s photo, warmly created by artist Kazuhiko Sano and art director Richard Sheaff, shows  Sinatra in trademark fedora, his blue eyes twinkling. It was unveiled by the Sinatra children in a larger-than-life, wall-sized reproduction on stage  It brought applause from the showbiz friends and family who filled the hotel’s room…The Postal Service’s Michael Daley said, “We plan to print 120 million First-Class (41 cents) stamps to commemorate his legacy.” Tina said, “He will continue to travel around the world.”

We sat in the front row alongside Sinatra’s poker-playing friends, Joanna and Sidney Poitier, Jolene and George Schlatter, Veronique Peck and daughter Cecilia. Veronique told me Gregory Peck will receive his stamp in 2011. He died June 12, 2003. The rule formerly required the honoree to have died 10 years before a stamp could be issued. But the Postal Service’s Mark Saunders informed me the time has been lessened to five years. (Frank Sinatra died May 14, 1998). However a Presidental stamp may now be issued as soon as the birthday after his death. 

Frank Jr. (63) now in his 46th year as a conductor, heads out tomorrow for a concert in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., followed by one in Madison, Wisconsin. Both are at Indian casinos where he batons a 37-piece orchestra.”We use his arrangements — we make the music the way my father would do it.” A video of Sinatra singing bars of some of his greatest hits through the years as edited by George Schlatter and Charlie Pignone greeted the guests — and another played for the finale. He would have done it — that way — his way.

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