Normally our weekly Monday Quiz is devoted to a specific performer, an actor or actress we like that you might be curious about. Yesterday, we pioneered new territory by offering up a group of performers, collectively known as The Rat Pack.
You probably know who was in the group — at least in their Las Vegas incarnation in the early 1960’s — but in case you need a refresher, the Rat Packers were led by Frank Sinatra, and comprised Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., actor Peter Lawford and comedian Joey Bishop.
But how much else did you know about this unique ensemble that in addition to raucous night club appearances, made a movie and several recordings? Please scroll down to yesterday’s Monday Quiz blog for our questions. Both queries and answers are based on author Richard Gehman’s 1961 book, Sinatra and His Rat Pack.
Here we go:
1) Answer: c) Humphrey Bogart. All incarnations of The Rat Pack flowed from Bogart’s social get togethers at his Hollywood home and at local restaurants. If you were a pal of Bogie’s, you were usually connected to The Pack somehow. About 18 months before his death at age 57 (of esophageal cancer) in 1957, the socializing intensified, often involving afternoon as well as evening sessions. Author Gehman notes that the sole purpose of The Rat Pack was to spit in the eye of Hollywood custom and get away with it.
2) Answer: With the exception of d), all names were applied to the group from time to time. But the one that stuck was c), the Clan.
3) Answer: d) Romanoff’s in Beverly Hills, owned by one “Prince” Mike Romanoff, who made a career for himself by posing His Imperial Highness, the Prince Michael Alexandrovitch Dmitri Obolensky Romanoff, nephew of the last of the Russian Czars. Writes Gehman, it was an impersonation that was so magnificently impressive, it even impressed him.
4) Answer: b) Lauren Bacall. After Bogie’s death, his widow took up with Sinatra for a time. They had known each other well from the many Rat Pack soirees at Bogart’s home. The romance blossomed but was eventually called off by Sinatra after news of his marriage proposal to Bacall was leaked to the press.
5) Answer: c) William B. Williams. The New York radio deejay popularized the “chairman of the board” reference, and it stuck for as long as Sinatra lived.
6) Answer: d) Ed Sullivan, if only because the noted tv MC was based in New York, not Hollywood.
7) Answer: b) False. Both Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh were involved in The Rat Pack’s formative period. He was nicknamed “Scout Leader.”
8) Answer: b) John F. Kennedy. Rat Pack members enthusiastically campaigned for JFK when he ran for the presidency in 1960. It helped that Pack member Lawford was at the time married to JFK’s sister, Pat (the first of his four wives). Later, Sammy Davis Jr. (literally) embraced Richard Nixon, and Sinatra organized Ronald Reagan’s 1981 inaugural entertainment. Martin showed up at that inaugural event, but was too drunk to perform.
9) Answer: b) Joseph P. Kennedy, JFK’s father. Joe Kennedy was referring to the marriage of daughter Pat to British-born Lawford, a match the senior Kennedy disdained.
10) Answer: b) Rex Harrison. It happened on Feb. 17, 1957, when the British star attended a party with his wife-to-be, the late Kay Kendall. Apparently thinking that fellow guest Sinatra was flirting with her, he slapped Old Blue Eyes twice across the face. Sinatra did not retaliate, later telling associates that he didn’t wish to “take advantage” of Harrison.
BONUS QUESTION: 1960’s Ocean’s Eleven, which stars Sinatra and The Rat Pack as a group of World War II vets pulling off a simultaneous heist of five Las Vegas casinos. The solid supporting cast includes Angie Dickinson, Richard Conte, Cesar Romero, Ilka Chase and the superb Akim Tamiroff. Worth seeking out.