Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Rat Pack - Photograph Exhibition at the Milk Gallery (March 16-28); Photos by Sid Avery and Bob Willoughby

Never before seen photographs of The Rat Pack with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Dean Martin will be on display at the Milk Gallery from March 16 to March 28. These photographs will include what the Reel Art Press calls "Frank Sinatra's legendary clique ... The never before seen images, discovered only last year, include work by famed photographers Sid Avery and Bob Willoughby. The exhibition captures the glamour and excess of life in the fast lane during the fifties and sixties - from Vegas to Hollywood, to the set of Oceans 11 and the stage of The Sands, it’s Frank, Dean, Sammy, Marilyn and JFK at their best."

The exhibit will feature vintage prints and limited edition prints, with the majority of the images previously unseen and have never before been available for purchase. The images are by photographers Sid Avery and Bob Willoughby. The opening will be on March 15 and is an RSVP only event; however, the exhibit will be available to the rest of the public from March 16 to March 28 (details below). It is an event not to be missed!

For a preview of some of the photographs at the Milk Gallery: The Rat Pack exhibition, click the link here.

Coincidentally, Channel Thirteen and WLIW (21) will be airing THE RAT PACK: LIVE AND SWINGIN' Sunday at 8 pm on WLIW and Monday at 1:30 am on Channel Thirteen and 2:30 pm on WLIW.

  • The name "the Rat Pack" was originally referred to as a group of actors that originated with Humphrey Bogart.
  • How did the name "The Rat Pack" come to be and how did Sinatra become part of that group? According to Max Rudin, who wrote an article for PBS, he discovered that Sinatra had moved his family to LA's Toluca Lake to Holmby Hills, just blocks from Bogart's house, and Sinatra was inducted into Bogart's group of film star's drinking buddies. The story goes that when Bogart's wife, Lauren Bacall, saw the drunken crew all together in the casino, she told them, "You look like a goddamn rat pack."
  • After Bogart died, Sinatra liked having people around him and then assembled his own group. Frank Sinatra, Joey Bishop, Sammy Davis Jr, Dean Martin, and Peter Lawford rounded out the five-buddy group that was known as the "summit or the clan", but referred by journalists as the Rat Pack. The group was an ensemble of an ethnically diverse group of singers - one black, one Jew, two Italians, and one feckless Hollywoodized Brit - with a varied background - three of them second-generation immigrants, four raised during the Depression in ethnic city neighborhoods. These group of entertainers went to Las Vegas to shoot a movie (Ocean's 11) and do two nightclub shows. Their stage act took off and their careers spring boarded from there to more movies, records and business deals.
  • The Rat Pack, with its known leaders - Frank, Sammy and Dean - also had other followers known as the Rat Pack Mascots which included Marilyn Monroe, Angie Dickinson, Juliet Prowse, and Shirley MacLaine.
  • According to wikipedia, Peter Lawford, member of the Rat Pack, was a brother-in-law of President JFK and the group played a role in campaigning for JFK and the Democrats, appearing at the July 11, 1960 Democratic National Convention in LA. However, Sinatra's relationship with Lawford suffered as a result of JFK staying at a rival's house - Bing Crosby.
  • The Rat Pack Live and Swingin included Johnny Carson, who was an emcee and sub for Bishop who was out of the show due to a bad back. If you watch the episode on tv tonight (times mentioned above), you'll see the young Johnny Carson singing along with Frank, Dean and Sammy in the group's only televised concert at the Kiel Opera House in St. Louis. The event was a closed-circuit broadcast done as a fundraiser for Dismas House (the first halfway house for ex-convicts).
Even though I was not born during The Rat Pack's time, I can still appreciate their music. In contrast to today's music with the electronics and voice altering machines, Frank Sinatra and his crew had a unique voice that stood on its own.

To see the exhibit, visit The Milk Gallery at the address below

Milk Gallery
450 W 15th Street
New York, NY 10011
Exhibit open everyday from
10 am - 6 pm

For a preview of images from the Reel Art Press/Milk Gallery Rat Pack exhibition, click here.
For more info on the PBS article regarding the Rat Pack, read here.
For Rat Pack images from click here.

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