Encore

Strangers in the Night

Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow: A Hollywood odd couple -- The singer married the much-younger actress briefly 26 years ago

She called him ''Charlie Brown.'' He called her ''doll face.'' When they were married on July 19, 1966, 50-year-old Frank Sinatra and 21-year-old Mia Farrow became one of Hollywood's oddest couples. He was the king of the Rat Pack, old-time Vegas show biz at its booze-and-broads best. She was the waifish star of the prime-time soap Peyton Place and more comfortable with acid, mysticism, and frugging in discos. And like any good May-December romance, this one raised and begged plenty of questions. Was it his mid-life crisis? Was she seeking a father figure?

Sinatra found little support for his choice of a woman who was younger than two of his children. Vegas comedians' acts suddenly included an obligatory ''Frank & Mia'' joke, along the lines of the one told by Eddie Fisher: ''Frank didn't have to buy Mia a diamond ring. He gave her a teething ring.''

The Jack Daniel's/herbal tea relationship went on the rocks quickly. The public's snickering and mounting pressures seemed to take their toll on Sinatra. He threatened to walk out on the filming of his next movie, The Naked Runner. At his first Vegas show after the marriage the crowd was struck dumb when he introduced Farrow with the crass one-liner, ''I finally found a broad I can cheat on.''

There was also the matter of Mia's career. Frank wanted the third Mrs. Sinatra to work less, but his independent bride was on a roll, landing parts in A Dandy in Aspic and Rosemary's Baby. The last straw came during Rosemary's filming in November 1967, 16 months into the marriage, when Sinatra insisted she quit the unfinished film to work with him on his movie The Detective. When she refused, Sinatra abruptly sent his lawyer to serve her with divorce papers.

While everyone else rolled out I-told-you-so's, the heartbroken actress offered her version of their story: ''Maybe it bothered him not being young. My friends from India would come into the house barefoot and hand him a flower. That made him feel square for the first time in his life.'' Farrow fled to India to meditate with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and refused any cash settlement when their divorce was finalized the following August. Meanwhile, Sinatra licked his wounds and returned to the mantra that he had been chanting for years: ''Ring-a-ding-ding!''



TIME CAPSULE
July 19, 1966

Tommy James & the Shondells did the ''Hanky Panky'' on radio, while Bonanza ruled on TV. Liz and Dick battled in the film Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and readers descended into Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls.

Originally posted Jul 17, 1992 Published in issue #127 Jul 17, 1992 Order article reprints
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