*The excerpt below is a first hand account of events witnessed by Frank Sinatra’s valet, George Jacobs.

 

LADY DAY & FRANK SINATRA:

Frank Sinatra didn’t cry for friends Humphrey Bogart or Joe Kennedy but he cried for Billie Holiday.

Sinatra visited Holiday on her deathbed in a run down New York facility, ‘Harlem Metropolitan Hospital.’

Holiday was dying of cirrhosis and she was dying from heroin.  The New York police had raided her room and found heroin in her pocket.

The attitude of the hospital was, ‘how can we cure this patient if she’s still shooting up?’

Three cops were stationed outside of her hospital door.  A beautician was inside during her hair and nails and she was smoking outside of her oxygen tent and begging the nurse to get her a beer.  She’d say catchy things like “Don’t trust that bitch.  She can take the gold out of your teeth while you’re chewing gum.”

Holiday’s spirit was feisty but her body was defeated.  Her once plump frame was wasted away.  She was skin and bones.  The hard life that made her music so great and true had literally eaten her alive.  All the liquor had rotted out her insides.

She was thrilled to see Frank Sinatra.  He told her how much he loved her recent album “Lady In Satin,” and he tried to get her to talk about future projects.

He told her, “I owe you so much for teaching me how to phrase when I was starting out with Harry James.”

Holiday replied, “I may have showed you how to bend a note, Frankie, that’s all.” She then leaned over and whispered, “Will you cut the shit baby and get me some dope?”

‘Lady Day’ begged Sinatra to get her a fix of heroin.  Later that day, Holiday’s liver failed and she went into a coma and died.

Sinatra locked himself in his penthouse and wept for two days, playing her songs and drinking and crying.  I had never seen him hurt so much, not even for ex-wife Ava Gardner.

Source: ‘Mr. S: My Life With Frank Sinatra’ By George Jacobs and William Stadiem

Click on the following link to watch a peformance of Billie Holiday singing "Strange Fruit."  Billie Holiday Performs!

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