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Rat Pack

The Rat Pack was a group of actors originally centered on their leader, Humphrey Bogart. In the mid-1960s it was the name used by the press and the general public to refer to a later variation of the group, after Bogart's death in 1957, that called itself "the Summit" or "the Clan," featuring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop; they appeared together on stage and in films in the early 1960s, including the movies Ocean's 11,[1] Sergeants 3, and Robin and the 7 Hoods (in the last film, Bing Crosby replaced Lawford). Sinatra, Martin, and Davis were regarded as the group's lead members.[2][3]


  • 1950s 1
  • 1960s 2
  • Later years 3
  • Revival 4
  • Reputation 5
  • Films 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Bibliography 9
  • External links 10


Humphrey Bogart, original Rat Pack leader (from Sabrina, 1954)

The name "The Rat Pack" was first used to refer to a group of friends in New York.[4][5] Several explanations have been offered for the famous name over the years. According to one version, the group's original "Den Mother", Lauren Bacall, after seeing her husband (Bogart) and his friends return from a night in Las Vegas, said words to the effect of "You look like a goddamn rat pack."[4] "Rat Pack" may also be a shortened version of "Holmby Hills Rat Pack", a reference to the home of Bogart and Bacall[4][5] which served as a regular hangout.

Visiting members included Errol Flynn, Nat King Cole, Mickey Rooney, Jerry Lewis and Cesar Romero.

According to Stephen Bogart, the original members of the Holmby Hills Rat Pack were: Frank Sinatra (pack master), Cary Grant, Rex Harrison, and Jimmy Van Heusen.[4][5] In his autobiography The Moon's a Balloon, David Niven confirms that the Rat Pack originally included him but not Sammy Davis, Jr. nor Dean Martin.


The 1960s version of the group included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. Marilyn Monroe, Angie Dickinson, Juliet Prowse, Buddy Greco, and Shirley MacLaine were often referred to as the "Rat Pack Mascots". Comedian Corbett Monica also worked as the frequent opening act for Frank Sinatra - later including Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. - and played Larry Corbett, manager and friend, to Joey Bishop’s character on “The Joey Bishop show” from 1963-1965.[6]

The post-Bogart version of the group (Bogart died in 1957) was reportedly never called that name by any of its members – they called it the Summit or the Clan. "The Rat Pack" was a term used by journalists and outsiders, although it remains the lasting name for the group.

Often, when one of the members was scheduled to give a performance, the rest of the Pack would show up for an impromptu show, causing much excitement among audiences, resulting in return visits. They sold out almost all of their appearances, and people would come pouring into Las Vegas, sometimes sleeping in cars and hotel lobbies when they could not find rooms, just to be part of the Rat Pack entertainment experience. The Rat Pack's appearances were of unprecedented value because the city would always become flooded with high rollers, wealthy gamblers who would routinely leave substantial fortunes in the casinos' coffers. The marquees of the hotels at which they were performing as individuals would read, for example, "DEAN MARTIN - MAYBE FRANK - MAYBE SAMMY" as seen on a Sands Hotel sign.

Peter Lawford was a brother-in-law of President John F. Kennedy (dubbed "Brother-in-Lawford" by Sinatra),[7] and Kennedy spent time with Sinatra and the others when he visited Las Vegas, during which members sometimes referred to the group as "the Jack Pack". Rat Pack members played a role in campaigning for Kennedy and the Democrats, appearing at the July 11, 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.[8] Lawford had asked Sinatra if he would have Kennedy as a guest at his Palm Springs house in March 1962, and Sinatra went to great lengths (including the construction of a helipad) to accommodate the President.[9] When Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy advised his brother to sever his ties to Sinatra because of the entertainer's association with Mafia figures such as Sam Giancana, the stay was cancelled.[10] Kennedy instead chose to stay at rival Bing Crosby's estate, which further infuriated Sinatra.[11] Lawford was blamed for this, and Sinatra "never again had a good word for (him)" from that point onwards.[12] Lawford's role in the upcoming 4 for Texas was written out, and his part in Robin and the 7 Hoods was given to Bing Crosby.[11]

On June 20, 1965, Sinatra, Martin, and Davis, with Johnny Carson as the emcee (substituting for Bishop, who was out with a bad back), performed their only televised concert together during the heyday of the Pack at the Kiel Opera House in St. Louis, a closed-circuit broadcast done as a fundraiser for Dismas House (the first halfway house for ex-convicts) and fed live to movie theatres across the country. Thirty years later Paul Brownstein tracked down a print of the "lost" show in a St. Louis closet after someone noticed mysterious cameras onstage during a CBS documentary on Sinatra which filmed part of the show. It has since been broadcast on Nick at Night (in 1998) as part of The Museum of Television & Radio Showcase series[13] and released on DVD as part of the Ultimate Rat Pack Collection: Live & Swingin.

Later years

In 1981, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr., appeared together in the film Cannonball Run, and were joined by Sinatra in the sequel Cannonball Run II. This would be the last time that the three would appear in a movie together (Shirley MacLaine also appears in the latter film).


Sammy Davis, Jr. in 1989

In December 1987, at Chasen's restaurant in Los Angeles, Sinatra, Davis, and Martin announced a 29-date tour, called Together Again, sponsored by HBO and American Express. At the press conference to announce the tour, Martin joked about calling the tour off, and Sinatra rebuked a reporter for using the term "Rat Pack", referring to it as "that stupid phrase".[14]

Dean Martin's son,

  • The Rat Pack: Unpublished Photos of Frank, Dean and Sammy - slideshow by Life magazine

External links

  • Gehman, Richard (1961). Sinatra and His Rat Pack. Belmont. 
  • Levy, S. (1998). Rat Pack Confidential. London: Fourth Estate.  
  • Spada, James (1991). Peter Lawford: The Man Who Kept the Secrets. New York:  


  1. ^ michel, peter. "UNLV Libraries, The Rat Pack, retrieved May 2, 2007". Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  2. ^ "Sergeants 3 (1962)". The Movie Portal. 1962-02-10. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  3. ^ "Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra: Dean Martin: Sammy Davis Jr): Big Three: 3cd (2008): CD". Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  4. ^ a b c d Shawn Levy, "Rat Pack confidential", Doubleday, 1998
  5. ^ a b c Lawrence J. Quirk and William Schoel, "The Rat Pack, Taylor Publishing Company 1998
  6. ^ Humphery, Hal (April 21, 1963). "Corbett Monica, 68, Comedian; Toured With Big-Name Singers: A Role on 'The Joey Bishop Show' and in a Woody Allen Film.". Los Angeles Times – via ProQuest Historical Newspapers. 
  7. ^ Spada, p. 207
  8. ^ Spada, p. 228
  9. ^ Spada, pp. 292-293
  10. ^ Spada, p.293
  11. ^ a b Spada, p. 294
  12. ^ Spada, p. 295
  13. ^ "The Rat Pack Captured". 1965-06-20. Retrieved 2012-01-10. 
  14. ^ Levy, Shawn. Rat Pack Confidential. Fourth Estate. London, 1999. p. 339
  15. ^ Haygood, Wil. In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr.. Random House. New York, 2003. p. 450
  16. ^ a b Haygood p. 466
  17. ^ a b Levy, p. 339
  18. ^ Summers, Anthony, Swan, Robbyn. Sinatra: The Life. Corgi. New York, 2006 p. 440
  19. ^ Birkbeck, Matt. Deconstructing Sammy. Amistad. New York, 2008. p. 213
  20. ^ Summers, Swan, p. 440
  21. ^ "With Sammy Davis, the Spirit Lingers". The New York Times. March 6, 1989. Retrieved 2009-06-05. 
  22. ^ – And Then There Was One


See also

Can-Can. She also had an appearance in the 1960 film Ocean's 11 as a drunken woman. The 1984 film Cannonball Run II, with MacLaine, marked the final time members of the Rat Pack shared theatrical screen-time together.

Archival footage of Lawford and Sinatra were used in the 1974 compilation film That's Entertainment!.


Concerning the group's reputation for womanizing and heavy drinking, Joey Bishop stated in a 1998 interview: "I never saw Frank, Dean, Sammy or Peter drunk during performances. That was only a gag! And do you believe these guys had to chase broads? They had to chase 'em away!"[22]


A 1989 performance of The Ultimate Event in Detroit was recorded and shown on Showtime the following year as a tribute to the recently deceased Davis. A review in The New York Times praised Davis's performance, describing him as "pure, ebullient, unapologetic show business."[21]

Davis's associate stated that Sinatra's people were skimming the top of the revenues from the concerts, as well as stuffing envelopes full of cash into suitcases after the performances.[19] In August 1989, after Davis experienced throat pain, he was diagnosed with throat cancer which caused his death in May 1990. Davis was buried with a gold watch that Sinatra had given him at the conclusion of The Ultimate Event Tour.[20]

To a sold-out crowd of 14,500,[17] Davis opened the show, followed by Martin and then Sinatra; after an interval, the three performed a medley of songs. During the show, Martin threw a lit cigarette at the audience.[18]

Martin had not made a film or recorded since 1984, and Sinatra felt that the tour would be good for Martin, telling Davis, "I think it would be great for Dean. Get him out. For that alone it would be worth doing".[17] Sinatra and Davis still performed regularly, yet had not recorded for several years. Both Sinatra and Martin had made their last film appearances together in 1984's Cannonball Run II, a film which also starred Davis. This marked the trio's first feature film appearance since 1964's Robin and the 7 Hoods. Martin expressed reservations about the tour, wondering whether they could draw as many people as they had in the past. After private rehearsals, at one of which Sinatra and Davis had complained about the lack of black musicians in the orchestra,[16] the tour began at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Arena on March 13, 1988.

[16] Davis was also experiencing severe financial difficulties, and was promised by Sinatra's people that he could earn between six and eight million dollars from the tour.[15]

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