Frank Sinatra was an American singer, actor, and producer who was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the 20th century. He and his wife Barbara founded the Frank Sinatra Starkey Hearing Foundation Celebrity Invitational in 1988 to raise funds for Barbara Sinatra Center for Abused Children at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, CA.
In 1985, Ronald Reagan presented Sinatra with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, remarking, "His love of country, his generosity for those less fortunate … make him one of our most remarkable and distinguished Americans.
He was also awarded the Hollzer Memorial Award by the Los Angeles Jewish Community in 1949. He gave a series of concerts in Israel in 1962, and donated his entire $50,000 fee for appearing in a cameo role in Cast a Giant Shadow (1966) to the Youth Center in Jerusalem. On November 1, 1972, he raised $6.5 million in bond pledges for Israel, and was given the Medallion of Valor for his efforts. The Frank Sinatra Student Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was dedicated in his name in 1978.
Sinatra was a huge advocate for civil rights and played a major role in the desegregation of Nevada hotels and casinos in the 1950s and 1960s. At the Sands in 1955, Sinatra went against policy by inviting Nat King Cole into the dining room, and in 1961, after an incident where an African-American couple entered the lobby of the hotel and were blocked by the security guard, Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. forced the hotel management to begin hiring black waiters and busboys. On January 27, 1961, Sinatra played a benefit show at Carnegie Hall for Martin Luther King, Jr. and led his fellow Rat Pack members and Reprise label mates in boycotting hotels and casinos that refused entry to black patrons and performers.
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