But in 1952, Sinatra the crooning sensation was on the rocks. Castigated by the press over mob connections and scandalous affairs (especially the brief marriage to made-in-heaven homewrecker Ava Gardner), he was dropped by Columbia Records, then by Universal Pictures. CBS axed "The Frank Sinatra Show." Remember those quaint, morally fibrous times? The public was shunning a villain.
Then Ava -- or the Mafia, depending on who tells it -- threw weight with the president of Columbia pictures and got Sinatra the part: doomed Private Maggio in "From Here to Eternity." Capitol Records decided to gamble on a once-great and teamed Frank with hotshot arranger Nelson Riddle. The new-sound Sinatra had a head start when the blockbuster film was released in '53.
In a beautiful movie, Maggio's was an exquisite death that resurrected Frank. It was image penance -- when those fickle droves dried their eyes, they were fans again. Sinatra was back for keeps.