Nancy Sinatra poses in boots only to kick off a comeback

April 11, 1995|By Michael Riedel | Michael Riedel,New York Daily News

Splashed across the cover of the May issue of Playboy and wearing nothing but a pair of lavender boots that were made for walking is 54-year-old Nancy Sinatra.

Will Ol' Blue Eyes punch a hole in the wall of the newsstand?

Don't count on it.

"When I agreed to do the shoot, my mom said, 'Don't do it. It will upset your father,' " Ms. Sinatra said from her home in Beverly Hills, Calif.

"I thought she had a point, so I decided I'd better talk to him."

They met at a Chinese restaurant in Manhattan.

She explained why she wanted to doff her clothes.

It was a way of saying that women in their 50s are still sexy. It also would help jump-start her singing career, which had gone the way of the thigh-high boots and miniskirts that made her a '60s icon.

"And aside from all that, they'll pay me so much money," she told her father.

Frank Sinatra said, "No."

There was an awkward silence, she recalled.

Then her father said: "Tell them to double it."

And so, with her father's approval, Ms. Sinatra reveals her well-toned, middle-age body in the issue that hits the stands today.

To feminists who might feel she's being exploited, she said: "Lighten up! What's the point of working out if we can't show it off a little bit?"

The seven-page pictorial, for which she reportedly was paid more than $50,000 (thanks, dad!), is the kickoff to what Nancy Sinatra hopes will be a comeback.

She has a new CD, "One More Time," coming out and has just rereleased four of her albums from the '60s that include such hit tunes as "These Boots Are Made for Walking," "Sugar Town" and "You Only Live Twice."

Next week she begins a concert tour, her first in 20 years.

"Yes, I was a has-been," said Ms. Sinatra with a laugh, "but that's better than being a never-was. And some of it was by choice. I had a miscarriage in 1973, and while I was pregnant with my first daughter I had a little scare on stage. I thought I might be miscarrying again, and the doctor told me to get off stage. I had my first baby with difficulty, and my second was born 22 months later. So my family became my life."

In 1985, Ms. Sinatra's second husband, producer Hugh Lambert, died of cancer. Suddenly, she was a single mother struggling to pay the bills.

"We went from a two-income family to zero income overnight," she said. "It wasn't easy."

It is hard to imagine that the daughter of the most famous singer in the world once had money problems.

"I am not a princess, and I am not an heiress," Ms. Sinatra explained.

"My dad wasn't the kind of guy who saved money; he liked to spread it around. . . . I guess I'm like that, too. I've never really been a saver."

Despite two recent and successful duet albums, Frank Sinatra, too, has had his share of troubles. He collapsed during a concert last summer, and he now stumbles over lyrics.

Then there is the poisonous gossip, most recently from Shirley MacLaine, whose memoirs describe Mr. Sinatra as a foul-mouthed drunkard who pals around with mobsters.

All of it, Nancy Sinatra admitted, has taken a toll on her father.

"Long ago, he took the position of not fighting public wars with people like Shirley MacLaine, who is out of her . . . mind," Ms. Sinatra said. "That works against him a lot of ways. He always seems to survive the initial crisis, but then I think he takes it out on his body. . . . As I'm sure you've heard, he doesn't much like water.

"But he is very healthy, very strong, and he has no life-threatening diseases that I know of. He is going to be 80, and I guess certain things are failing. His vision and his hearing aren't what they used to be, but all of us have to face that someday."

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