Barbara Sinatra, the humanitarian, founder of the Barbara Sinatra Center for Abused Children, former model and wife of the late Frank Sinatra passed away this week in Rancho Mirage, California. She was 90 years old.
Mrs. Sinatra died of natural causes, according to a family spokesman. She died comfortably surrounded by family and friends at her home. Funeral arrangements will be announced within a few days. Mrs. Sinatra is survived by her son Robert Oliver Marx; his wife Hillary Roberts; and her grand-daughter Carina Blakeley Marx.
Born Barbara Blakeley in Bosworth, Missouri, her father Willis owned Blakeley’s General Store on Bosworth’s Main Street. At age 18 her family moved to Long Beach, California and shortly thereafter Barbara married Robert Oliver and began her modeling career. Following a divorce to Oliver, Barbara married Zeppo Marx in 1959 in Las Vegas and they settled in Palm Springs. Barbara became Frank Sinatra’s fourth and last wife in a private ceremony at the Annenberg Estate in Rancho Mirage in July of 1976.
Barbara and Frank Sinatra travelled the world for 26 years together until his death in 1998. After moving to Palm Springs in the late 1950’s, Barbara began an illustrious journey as an activist especially for children. Barbara Sinatra was not a woman who just lent her name to a cause or event. In 1985, with the support of her husband, Frank, she began a concentrated effort to raise funds for the establishment of a state-of-the-art facility to provide services and counseling for children suffering the effects of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. The nonprofit Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center on the campus of Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, CA would also focus on prevention, community education and breaking the generational cycle of abuse.
She devoted much time and energy to the Children’s Center that bears her name and to speaking out on the need for abuse victims to have access to counseling. Barbara was an avid and tireless fundraiser and child advocate, and, as the Center’s Founder and Chairwoman of the Board of Directors, intimately involved in the organization’s operations. In her many travels, she served as keynote speaker and appeared before groups and organizations of all sizes on behalf of abused children in England, Australia, Canada, Italy, and throughout the United States. Barbara Sinatra also served on the Board of Trustees of the Princess Grace Foundation.
Through Barbara Sinatra’s efforts, more than 20,000 children through age 18 have received beneficial therapy at the Barbara Sinatra Center for Abused Children, making it possible for them to cope with traumas associated with abuse. In 2016, the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center Foundation, which she helped fund, developed a series of animated videos entitled “The Protect Yourself Rules” for children in grades K-6. These videos are distributed to teachers, school counselors, after-school programs and parents, free of charge. After only 11 months, the program has been shown to over 700,000 children throughout the United States and in many foreign countries.
In 2011, Barbara Sinatra co-wrote with Wendy Holden, Lady Blue Eyes…My Life with Frank. The book covers Barbara’s humble beginnings to her life with her iconic husband and her philanthropic efforts including the Children’s Center.
Barbara was a beloved community leader in the Palm Springs area for over 50 years and also maintained homes in Beverly Hills and Malibu, California. The family requests that memorial gifts be directed to the Barbara Sinatra Center for Abused Children, 39000 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage, California 92270.