It began as an informal association of Hollywood pals in the 1950’s linked largely by their shared disdain of the prevailing social mores reinforced by a moribund studio system. Its sole original purpose was “to spit in the eye of Hollywood custom and get away with it.”
It quickly transformed into a power center of leading performers who ruled the Las Vegas club scene, made movies together, recorded together and enjoyed themselves thoroughly. They smoked, they celebrated onstage drinking, they exchanged transgressive ethnic humor and they womanized — misbehaving blatantly, no pussyfooting or apologies.
Led by Frank Sinatra (pictured above center), “it” became the Rat Pack comprising Dean Martin (right), Sammy Davis Jr. (second from left), actor Peter Lawford (left) and comedian Joey Bishop (second from right).
Considered in the lingo of the day as “the coolest cats of all time,” the group’s tentacles spread far into the show biz community, scooping up scores of fans, followers and hangers-on that embraced onscreen figures as well as agents, restaurateurs and at least one big-name politician.
Just how much do you know about this unique show biz phenomenon that lives on today in legend, via at least one movie and even “tribute shows” of contemporary performers?
Ok, we ask you to take our ring-a-ding-ding Monday Quiz, inspired by author Richard Gehman’s 1961 book, Sinatra and His Rat Pack. Here we go:
1) Question: The Rat Pack was inspired if not actually founded by one of classic Hollywood’s most notable actors. Which one of the following? a) Gary Cooper; b) Errol Flynn; c) Humphrey Bogart; or d) Robert Mitchum?
2) Question: What was the Rat Pack originally called? a) The Holmby Hills Rat Pack; b) the Free-loaders Club; c) The Clan; or d) the Gang.
3) Question: The Rat Pack favored one of Hollywood’s most popular restaurants distinguished by its somewhat eccentric owner. Which one? a) the Brown Derby; b) the Mocambo; c) Dan Tana’s; or d) Romanoff’s.
4) Question: The early formation of the Rat Pack resulted in a serious Sinatra romance. Name the woman. a) Ava Gardner; b) Lauren Bacall; c) Angie Dickinson; or d) Marilyn Maxwell.
5) Question: A popular disc jockey coined the term “chairman of the board” referring to Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Who was this radio deejay? a) Martin Block; b) Larry Lujack; c) William B. Williams; or d) Dick Clark.
6) Question: Which one of the famous following was NOT a member of the Rat Pack’s informal network? a) Shirley MacLaine; b) Eddie Fisher; c) Elizabeth Taylor; or d) Ed Sullivan.
7) Question: Before their unpleasant marital breakdown in 1962, Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis were hard core members of the Rat Pack. a) True; or b) False.
8) Question: Which U.S. president is most closely identified with the Rat Pack? a) Ronald Reagan; b) John F. Kennedy; c) Jimmy Carter; or d) Gerald Ford.
9) Question: Who said, “the only thing I would hate worse than an actor as a son-in-law is an English actor?” a) William Randolph Hearst; b) Joseph P. Kennedy; c) Charlie Chaplin; or d) Jack Warner.
10) Question: Which actor slapped Frank Sinatra across the puss — two times — for apparently flirting with his wife? a) William Holden; b) Rex Harrison; c) Clark Gable; or d) Gene Kelly.
BONUS QUESTION: What is the title of the movie that best captures the spirit of The Rat Pack, especially in its Las Vegas heyday?