Article 1995-11-19 Los Angeles, CA

The Stars Honor A Legend At 80

Frank Sinatra turned 80 on Tuesday. Tonight at 9, ABC broadcasts "Sinatra: 80 Years My Way," an all-star salute taped on Nov. 19 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The loving birthday card, designed by George Schlatter Productions, is big, glossy and smoothly professional.

After standing briefly onstage for an opening ovation from the audience, Mr. Sinatra joins his wife, Barbara, at a small, spotlighted table to watch the proceedings, gingerly limiting most of his reactions to a blown kiss or appreciative chuckle, though he gets to his feet to join standing ovations for performances by Ray Charles ("Ol' Man River") and Patti LaBelle ("The House I Live In"). As the camera occasionally pans the glittering audience, catching everybody from Angela Lansbury to Johnny Depp, there can be no doubting the enduring intergenerational appeal of Frank Sinatra.

The entertainment begins with Bruce Springsteen, who offers a "salute to the patron saint of New Jersey" with a slow, almost whispered version of "Angel Eyes," a song from Mr. Sinatra's "Only the Lonely" album. That's followed by Arnold Schwarzenegger listing the singer's various achievements, including raising over $1 billion for various charities (proceeds from this event went to the AIDS Project Los Angeles and the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center).

The rest of the special deftly alternates between straightforward entertainment and special film segments , usually augmented with classic Sinatra recordings, that explore different aspects of the performer's career and private life. Included are glimpses of wives Nos. 1, 2 and 3, Nancy, Ava and Mia, and even some of the sensational headlines about various barroom brawls. The whole man is fondly celebrated. As Gregory Peck puts it in one of the evening's more poetic tributes, Mr. Sinatra managed to be "sentimental softie yet reckless rogue," "wily and warm, winking and winning."

Several singers stick with the standards. Natalie Cole does "They Can't Take That Away From Me," and Tony Bennett turns "I've Got the World on a String" into "He's Got the World on a String." Bono and Salt-n-Pepa take more contemporary spins. By far the most haunting moments are provided by Bob Dylan, looking more ethereal than ever and singing an original work called "Restless Farewell." Most pointless bit: A can-can number imported from the Moulin Rouge in Paris. Mr. Sinatra, it seems, starred in the movie version of the musical "Can-Can."

In the finale, all the performers gather onstage to sing, along with a video of Mr. Sinatra, "New York, New York." Mr. Springsteen and Mr. Bennett go to the Sinatra table to escort the star to the stage. A gesture by Mr. Bennett to lend a helping hand is disdainfully rejected. He gets to the stage and even manages to join in the last few words of the song. His street spunk, obviously, remains indomitable. Mr. Sinatra deserves a fine tribute, and he gets one.

SINATRA 80 Years My Way ABC, tonight at 9 (Channel 7 in New York)

Written by Buz Kohan and Mr. Schlatter; directed by Louis J. Horvitz; music arranged and conducted by Glen Roven. George Schlatter, executive producer; Maria S. Schlatter, producer; Donn Hoyer, co-producer; Gary Necessary and Buz Kohan, supervising producers. A production of George Schlatter.

WITH: Frank Sinatra, Barbara Sinatra, Paula Abdul, Danny Aiello, Tony Bennett, Bono, Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Norm Crosby, Vic Damone, Tony Danza, Tom Dreesen, Bob Dylan, Dennis Franz, Eydie Gorme, Hootie and the Blowfish, Patti LaBelle, Angela Lansbury, Tommy Lasorda, Steve Lawrence, Luis Miguel, the Moulin Rouge Dancers, Chazz Palminteri, Gregory Peck, Paul Reiser, Little Richard, Don Rickles, Roseanne, Salt-n-Pepa, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Selleck, Bruce Springsteen and Robert Wagner.

By John J. O'Connor via The New York Times.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License