It was Labor Day weekend, 1978, in Las Vegas. The temperature was 103º but we didn’t care. We didn’t have any plans for outside activities. We were there for one thing and one thing only.
Along with a few other couples from Goldman Sachs, we’d been invited by my husband’s boss for a weekend in Vegas. It was our first time seeing Sinatra in Vegas – or anywhere else, for that matter. He was scheduled to do the 9:00PM show at Caesar’s Palace Circus Maximus. Dinner would be served at 6:30PM, then Rich Little was scheduled for 8:00PM.
I had no idea what the ambiance would be like, but I was savvy enough to realize that the 9:00PM show would be an elegant affair which called for a very special outfit. I had packed four different dresses and I’d make up my mind which one to wear the night of the show. All eyes would be on Old Blue Eyes but I still wanted to look nice – for myself and to make Bill proud. This was the first time I’d be meeting his colleagues and their wives and I wanted to make a good impression.
After trying on all my dresses, I decided on a sapphire blue velvet little number with spaghetti straps dotted here and there with tiny crystals. It was form-fitting and about three inches above the knee but I had great legs and looked really good in that dress. I paired it with a silver purse, strappy sandals and a diamond and sapphire choker which Bill had given me for our fifth anniversary.
The group had already gone downstairs and by the time we arrived there were only three chairs left at the long rectangular table; they were surprisingly close to the stage. We noticed that the end seat was marked ‘RESERVED’. For whatever reason, everyone else seemed intimidated by that chair. Bill and I sat, the vacant seat to my right. No one came by to tell us we couldn’t sit there so we made ourselves comfortable.
Shortly before dinner was served, the noise level in the room suddenly dropped and people all around us began whispering as a beautiful woman was escorted to the empty chair next to me. She had perfectly coiffed blonde hair and was wearing a shimmering white brocade gown with a mink collar. I couldn’t help noticing all her jewelry was diamonds and sapphires. We smiled politely at each other and her eyes landed on the delicate but elegant choker around my neck. She sweetly remarked, “What a lovely necklace, my dear” and asked me my name.
“Thank you. I’m Nancy” I replied, touching my choker lightly and motioning to Bill on my left. “The necklace was a gift from my husband. I thought the sapphires would be appropriate for an evening with Blue Eyes.”
She laughed softly. “Well, you’re quite right and I see we have much in common. Nancy is Frank’s daughter’s name, you know. And I agree with you about the sapphires; Frank adores them.” She extended her jewel-bedecked hand. “I’m Barbara – Frank’s wife – and it’s a pleasure to meet you, Nancy.”
Well, if I had false teeth they would have fallen out! Here I was, a girl from The Bronx, chatting away with Mrs. Frank Sinatra! We had a nice little talk; she complimented Bill on his taste in gifts and I told her how excited I was to be there. Frank Sinatra music was always playing in my parent’s house when I was a kid. Barbara was a lovely woman, very attentive and easy to talk to, and I felt like I made a friend that night.
Dinner was fabulous and Rich Little’s impressions were amazing and hilarious. Finally at 9:00PM on the dot the curtain opened to thunderous applause. Frank Sinatra sat on a stool by the piano, smoking a cigarette and looking incredibly cool. The room became silent and on Frank’s cue, the band started playing “Fly Me to the Moon”; Frank started singing and the audience went wild.
Each song was perfection and Frank had an amazing rapport with the audience, cracking jokes and giving little background information about each song. At one point he said “I don’t usually take requests but when it comes from my wife you know damn well I’m gonna do it or else I’ll be sleeping in the guest room tonight.” Everyone laughed and Barbara whispered in my ear “I think you’re going to enjoy this.”
I sat there mesmerized, squeezing Bill’s arm as Frank sang my song – Nancy (With the Laughing Face). I felt like he was singing to me and, because it was Barbara’s request, he was doing exactly that.
After the show and a couple of encores, Barbara said to me and Bill “Come with me; there’s someone I want you to meet.” Out of nowhere two burly men came up beside us and escorted us backstage and into a large dressing room. There, sitting on the couch was Frank Sinatra; his tie was undone and he had a drink in his hand. He was so relaxed he looked like he could have been home watching the ballgame.
Barbara introduced me and Bill as her ‘dinner companions‘ and I thought I would faint when Frank raised my hand to his lips and said “How ya doin’, doll?”
I never liked it when any man called me “doll”. I still don’t. But when I looked in Frank Sinatra’s sapphire blue eyes as he called me “doll”, all I heard was him saying “Your Majesty.”
NAR © 2022