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Marilyn

The biggest female star associated with the Rat Pack would have to have been Marilyn Monroe.  And as a result, there is often a characterization of Marilyn along with Frank, Dean and Sammy in today’s Rat Pack Shows.  The performer portraying Marilyn will usually sing Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend and My Heart Belongs To Daddy, plus I Wanna Be Loved By You.  And there is often another song and interaction with one or more of the guys.    

The leading Marilyn Monroe Impersonator around today is Susan Griffiths, who starred in a TV movie called Marilyn & Me and was featured in Pulp Fiction

Susan Griffiths

Susan Griffiths

 
She has also appeared on the TV shows Nip/Tuck and Curb Your Enthusiasm and has been seen during Elton John’s Las Vegas concerts where her image is projected on a large screen behind Elton while he performs the song Candles In the Wind
 
Susan, who is based in Southern California, is constantly in demand for her amazing look, sound and manner that re-creates Marilyn so convincingly, as seen here in a page from TV Guide.   Susan can be found on the Web at SusanGriffiths.com
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RatPack AerobicsW300

Many people use upbeat music at a continuous beat to guide their aerobic exercise, whether in a class or alone at home.  Having music you like enhances the experience.  So it’s good to have a lot of choices available, and now there are, because one company is turning out a variety of music packages for working out.  Among their selections is Rat Pack Aerobics, which features the songs of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., the songs performed throughout their Rat Pack years, and these days re-created by Rat Pack Impersonators.  

The Rat Pack Aerobics workout is 74 minutes long, and maintains a constant 140 beat per minute pace, with songs like Come Fly With Me, Fly Me To The Moon, Volare, That Old Black Magic, and sixteen more.

Other collections include the hits of the Bee Gees, Elvis, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Madonna, Fleetwood Mac, Disco, Country and many more, all produced for aerobic and cardio exercise programs, with over 100 titles in all.  For the complete selection, visit AerobicsMusic.com.

ECasaMJ

In addition to impersonators of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and The Rat Pack, many tribute shows over the years have featured a Michael Jackson impersonator.  There are many, and many are quite good.  One who comes to mind calls himself E’Casanova, and he has created a remarkable lookalike of Michael.  In fact, it’s so good, he even doubled for Michael, at Michael’s request. 

E’Casanova doesn’t just make himself look like Michael.  He also sings and dances and re-creates much of Michael’s stage presence and does a pretty accurate job of it.  He will no doubt continue to be sought after for his tribute act, and now, with the sudden death of Michael, the demand for his show will probably even increase.   To read more about him, go to E’Casanova’s MySpace page.

Young Sammy

The youngest member of The Rat Pack was born Samuel Victor Moses George Davis Jr., in the Bronx, almost exactly ten years after Frank Sinatra, and eight years after Dean Martin.

Sammy Davis Jr.’s parents were both entertainers who split up when Sammy was three years old.  At that early age, Sammy went out on tour with his dad and his dad’s partner Will Mastin in their dance troupe which, with the addition of Sammy, became known as The Will Mastin Trio.  At the age of eight, Sammy appeared in a movie called Rufus Jones For President.

Sammy served in the U.S. Army during World War II, during which he joined an entertainment unit.  After the war, he rejoined the Will Mastin Trio, but soon moved on to success of his own with solo albums and a starring role on Broadway in a show called Mr. Wonderful.

But more success and excitement was on the way for Sammy starting in 1959, when, at the age of 34 he teamed up with Frank, Dean, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford for a series of movies and one of the most memorable stage shows Las Vegas has ever seen, forever known as The Rat Pack.

FDS

While the Rat Pack threesome of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. performed at a nightclub in Chicago one night in 1962, Frank created an unintentionally humorous moment.  Someone requested Nancy with the Laughing Face, the song written for Frank’s daughter in 1944 by Jimmy Van Heusen with lyrics by a Sinatra friend, comedy star Phil Silvers.

Frank agreed to perform the special request.  But once into the song, instead of singing the lyrics “she takes the winter and makes it summer”, he accidentally reversed it and sang “she takes the summer and makes it winter” which is not exactly the message.  You can hear him hesitate slightly, but he chose not to call attention to it so it went pretty much unnoticed, except maybe by some observant Rat Pack fans, and those of us known as Rat Pack Impersonators who try to re-create those great Rat Pack shows  for today’s audiences.

 Dean Martin

Now that Martin Scorsese has a movie about Frank Sinatra in the works, it seems that Frank’s best friend in the Rat Pack, Dean Martin would also be a good subject for a film biography.  At least that’s the opinion of many Rat Pack fans and Rat Pack Impersonators

One of the first questions would be who to cast in the lead role.  As Dean, we liked the actor who played him so well in the HBO Rat Pack film a few years ago.  That was Joe Montegna, of Godfather III, who really captured Dean’s casual relaxed demeanor, not to mention looking and sounding like him.  But he probably wouldn’t be called on to play Dean again.  So who else. . .  We think other possibilities for Dino could include Mark Ruffalo, Joe Penny, Antonio Sabato Jr., and if you use your imagination, maybe even Matthew McConaughey.

RepriseIf there was a Rat Pack record label, it would have to be Reprise Records, created by Frank Sinatra in 1960.  As it’s known to both Rat Pack fans and Rat Pack Impersonators, Reprise was founded on the principle that each artist would have creative freedom and the ownership of their work.  Initially, Reprise was home to Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Count Basie, Trini Lopez, and of course, Frank himself.  Frank recorded over 30 albums for the label, the first of which was Ring-a-Ding-Ding.  And Dean Martin’s number one hit Everybody Loves Somebody was with Reprise.  Nancy Sinatra also scored a number one for the label with These Boots Are Made For Walking

Frank sold the label to Warner Brothers just three years later in 1963, at which time it went in a different direction, signing acts like The Kinks, Jimi Hendrix, Fleetwood Mac, Jethro Tull, Neil Young, and even Alice Cooper, and its focus was rock and progressive through the late 60’s and 70’s 

Today, Reprise is home to acts including Green Day, Depeche Mode and Michael  Buble, and has continued to release some great Frank Sinatra collections.

ratpack-at-sandsRat Pack stars Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis recorded and performed thousands of songs over the lengths of their careers.  Some songs they originated, and some were covers of songs associated first with other artists.  Among the most unusual covers would be Dean Martin performing Johnny Cash’s I Walk The Line.  And there was Sammy Davis Jr. singing Wichita Lineman, introduced by Glen Campbell.  Not to be left out, Frank Sinatra also had an assortment of unusual covers, including Bad Bad Leroy Brown by Jim Croce, Simon and Garfunkel’s Mrs. Robinson, and probably the most unusual cover song he ever took on, which was Bang Bang, My Baby Shot Me Down.  That one belonged to Cher, and still does.    

Some cover song trivia from a tribute to The Rat Pack.

rat-pack-angie-dThe Rat Pack of the sixties, most associated with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford, also had some female members, who were sometimes referred to as Rat Pack mascots.  They included Marilyn Monroe, Shirley MacLaine, Angie Dickinson and Juliet Prowse.  Actress Janet Leigh also had an association with the group.   And of course, the original group of the fifties which centered around Humphrey Bogart, included singer Judy Garland, and Bogart’s wife Lauren Bacall, who is believed to have coined the name.  

To this day, Frank, Dean, Sammy and company’s stage show is inspiration for groups like this Rat Pack Tribute.