“Elizabeth Taylor got the same treatment toward the end of her unhappy marriage to Michael Wilding when she found herself pregnant by Frank [Sinatra] and wanted to marry him. He arranged an abortion for her instead.”
That is what is claimed by Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor biographer Kitty Kelley, whose book His Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra was reissued Tuesday in a new trade paperback by Bantam. Her biography of Elizabeth Taylor, The Last Star, never really sold well enough to gain a following enough for it to be popular, but it is pure Kitty just the same. The statement that starts this article doesn’t sound so shocking after you read Kelley’s accounts of both of these flawed humans lives.
In his biography of Elizabeth Taylor, C. David Heymann quotes Taylor’s childhood friend Barbara Jackson as she describes a very young Elizabeth’s infatuation with Frances “Frank” Sinatra: “I saw Elizabeth again a few years later during a Frank Sinatra concert at the Hollywood Bowl. All these girls and young women, including Elizabeth, were screaming and carrying on. I couldn’t hear Sinatra sing, and I wanted to listen to his voice, but the boisterous group inadvertently drowned out the entertainer. I found the bobby-sox craze stupid, and it surprised me to see Elizabeth as much a faddist as the rest of the crowd.” This shows that even a friend of Taylor’s was surprised just how fanatic Taylor’s devotion for Sinatra really was. Barbara Jackson continues: “The irony, I suppose, is that at a young age she became just as popular as Sinatra, and like him, she amassed an army of fans and followers.”
In The Last Star, Kitty Kelley alludes many times to the fact that Elizabeth Taylor was obsessed with Sinatra, one of the most popular singers of our time. When she was married to Michael Wilding, Taylor gave a dinner part for some of her closest friends, including Montgomery Clift and her husband, but she insisted on only playing Frank Sinatra’s music. “Elizabeth, who was crazy about Frank Sinatra at the time, kept jumping up to play his records”, Kitty states. That night was also the night where, after the party, a drunken and drugged-up Clift drove his car into a utility pole. “The windshield was shattered and the dashboard smashed in, pinning Monty under the steering wheel. ‘He was bleeding from the head so much that it looked like his face had been halved,’ Elizabeth said.” He eventually survived, but even the repercussions of this horrible night didn’t leave a bad taste in Elizabeth’s mouth in the area of Frank Sinatra. You would think that a night ending in tragedy, a night that was accompanied fully by the music of Mr. Frank Sinatra, would have at least turned Elizabeth off enough to realize that maybe fate has something to say, especially since even “Monty loved Frank Sinatra”, according to Kelley.
Even after she divorced Wilding, and after many failed marriages, married Richard Burton, Frank Sinatra never left her periphery. Burton commented on Sinatra’s reaction to Taylor’s stardom and excited fan-base: “Frank Sinatra was with us the other night and he couldn’t get over it. He said he’d never seen anything like it. He was really impressed.”
But all of that information is purely preamble to the main event. The real story comes right after she divorced Michael Wilding. Kitty Kelley, in The Last Star, alludes twice to the fact that Elizabeth Taylor had an affair with Frank Sinatra. First on page 304, Taylor herself tells it to Henry Wynberg: “In intimate detail she discussed all of her marriages, all of her divorces, and each of her affairs, including a brief fling with Frank Sinatra when she was young.” Then again, on page 324, Kelley has Taylor herself, again, telling it to Peter Darmanin, in relation to Montgomery Clift: “She also told me about how much she and Monty loved Frank Sinatra and how she once had an affair with Sinatra when she was a young girl.” But never in the The Last Star does Kitty make one hint about the abortion that Sinatra insisted Taylor have. C. David Heymann explains why: “Simon & Schuster excised the gossip item from her 1981 biography of Elizabeth Taylor (The Last Star). She later included it in her 1986 Sinatra biography, published by Bantam, which let it stand.” How ironic that years later, Simon & Schuster would publish Sinatra’s daughter’s authorized biography of her father AND an authorized biography of Sinatra by John Howlett. It leads one to think that maybe Sinatra had a tight hold on the reins of S & S and what they would allow to be said in their books. But, in that 1986 Sinatra biography, Kitty Kelley set forth her claim with proud impudence to Simon & Schuster who had banned it from being said five years earlier: “Elizabeth Taylor got the same treatment toward the end of her
unhappy marriage to Michael Wilding when she found herself pregnant by
Frank [Sinatra] and wanted to marry him. He arranged an abortion for
her instead.” While it is true she doesn’t document exactly where this piece of information, Kelley provides a list of interviews that she gave, and the one that I think gave out this piece of information was Peter Lawford. Lawford was a close friend of Sinatra, and he died right before this book was published, so I think Lawford had no reason to fear Sinatra anymore, so he told Kelley about Frank’s insisting that Taylor have an abortion.
Later on in the book, there is a veiled clue of the relationship between Taylor and Sinatra. Sinatra invited Taylor and her then-husband Mike Todd, along with Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, and there were many fights that broke out at the table, between Sinatra/Lauren Bacall and Eddie/Debbie, but behind all of that Elizabeth was “irritated” because she was “being ignored”, according to Jule Styne. That leads to the inferred fact that Taylor wanted Sinatra’s attention, and was mad because Bacall was passionately arguing with her former lover Sinatra, which meant Sinatra was not talking to her. Years later, Sinatra and Taylor were seen together at many of the same functions, and their relationship was never strained by the abortion that they once had together.
So whether you believe C. David Heymann that the story is “pure fantasy” or if you believe what Kitty and I claim: that Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor had a youthful affair, which ended up in her becoming pregnant and Frank demanding that she get an abortion, which she obviously did because she never had Sinatra’s baby. I have shown you that the information came from Peter Lawford, because of his immense connections to Sinatra, and I have also shown why Simon & Schuster never wanted to print that piece of information in Kitty’s book about Elizabeth Taylor, because Frank pressured them to take it out. Kitty Kelley’s book about Sinatra was almost never written. She was sued by Sinatra before she wrote even one word was written, because “he and he alone, or someone he anointed, could write his life story, but no one else was allowed to do so”, according to Kitty Kelley. That speaks volumes about Sinatra, the private and sinister man, keeping facts about his tortured sex life from being brought to life.
Heymann, C. David. Liz: An Intimate Biography of Elizabeth Taylor. New Jersey: Birch Lane
Press, 1995. Print.
Kelley, Kitty. His Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra. New York: Bantam,
Kelley, Kitty. Elizabeth Taylor: The Last Star. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1981. Print.