DOCUMENT: Celebrity

Nixon's "Seduction" Of Sinatra

Aides sought to woo singer before 1972 reelection bid

Nixon & Sinatra

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Nixon's "Seduction" Of Frank Sinatra

JANUARY 11--Gearing up for President Richard Nixon's reelection campaign, White House aides plotted the "seduction" of Frank Sinatra, who was viewed as a source of "massive financial resources," and a man who "controls a great number of celebrities, entertainers and other public figures," according to memos released today by the National Archives.

The plan to woo Sinatra was detailed in a confidential "eyes only" October 1971 memo from Charles Colson to H.R. Haldeman, Nixon's chief of staff. A copy of that document can be found here.

Colson recommended that Nixon meet with Sinatra in the Oval Office, "then the President should indicate that he has had it for the day and invite Sinatra" to his private residence or the Executive Office Building for "refreshments." The informal get-together, Colson noted, "should last an hour or so and because of the President's ability to charm people on a personal basis, we expect the meeting will lay the necessary groundwork." Colson added that if steps to court the singer were followed, "we are relatively certain to have completed our seduction of Frank Sinatra."

But while some aides were Sinatra fans, Attorney General John Mitchell was "very negative" on Sinatra (who had been known to consort with wiseguys and Democrats), which may have figured in the White House's eventual decision to keep Old Blue Eyes at arm's length.

In notations made on a November 1971 memo from Dwight Chapin, Haldeman shot down contacts with Sinatra during a Nixon trip to California later that month. A February 1972 memo noted that after Haldeman checked with the attorney general, he decided that Nixon's "involvement with Frank Sinatra should be limited to public events." Still, the memo reported that the performer could be appointed to a United Service Organization board. (4 pages)