SINATRA REFUSED TO KISS GOTTI'S ASS, SO HE HAD JOE WATTS THREATEN HIM.
Frank Sinatra's life was always earmarked, by some sort of fringe mob story or another. We've all heard the stories about his trip to Havana and his alleged suitcase filled with $2 million in cash for Luciano. In fact, the reason why if there was one for Sinatra to have befriended mob guys was because these were the guys who were loyal to him, when nobody else was. It was largely because of them that Sinatra had a following. They hired him in the early days when nobody would.
Over his career, there was an ebb and flow. When Sinatra's wife Nancy Barbato-Sinatra and he split, the journalists covered it like today's modern day version of TMZ. Frank had long had affairs, and his affair with Ava Gardner was the root of the split between him and Nancy. Frank wanted a divorce to marry Ava, and Nancy refused before finally relenting but it didn't stop the press from laying blame on Sinatra, and his womanizing ways. This was a period of time where the press was literally running to the FBI looking for dirt on Sinatra, specifically Lee Mortimer. Mortimer, who consistently bent the truth to an extreme degree, had tried to put Sinatra with the mafia non stop, and he even went so far as to claim that Sinatra was a communist, and this was nearing the McCarthy era. With the salacious news of Sinatra's dealings with alleged mobsters, his affair, and then the communism allegations, his star in Hollywood faded and quick. Follow that up with a vocal hemorrhage, Sinatra was done.
As Sinatra eventually would regain his vocal prowess, but the only guys who would hire Sinatra were mob guys. They were the only ones who cared enough about him, to be loyal to him, throughout all the misery the papers were putting him through. Specifically during this time, he couldn't put asses in the seats, and the mob club owners knew it, and didn't care, because Frank was their guy. As everything began to subside, and Frank had resurrected his career he went back to those mob clubs, knowing they couldn't afford to pay him, and he did it for practically nothing because when he was down and out, they were the only ones who gave a shit about him. He never ever forgot that, and that's why with mob guys he was always friendly and respectful, except in one case.
If you ever fuckin' disrespect John again, our faces will be the last you ever fuckin' see."--JOE WATTS, after being sent by John Gotti to deliver a message to Frank Sinatra.
1987. Frank Sinatra was prepping for the last of what would be his Carnegie Hall shows. John Gotti, who was the boss of the Gambino's at the time, had used connections to get a block of seats in Frank's section. That section was reserved for friends, and more.
Gotti had bragged that Frank Sinatra gave him those tickets, but that was a lie. Frank Sinatra according to Tony Oppedisano, lifetime friend, "Frank wouldn't have ever done that." According to Oppedisano, because Gotti acquired seats in Sinatra's block, Gotti thought that he could meet Sinatra after the show. Word filtered to the back that Gotti expected to have dinner with Sinatra after the show, and that was news to Sinatra, who wanted nothing to do with John Gotti. Sinatra asked someone to send a message, that he was not feeling well, but appreciated the offer.
After the concert, Jilly Rizzo and Frank headed out to dinner. There destination was the Savoy Grill, which was Frank's favorite place to dine in the city. Word apparently got back to Gotti that Sinatra was dining at the Savoy. Gotti enraged sent Joe Watts, to the Savoy to threaten Sinatra. It doesn't end there.
Three years later Sinatra and Tony Oppedisano are in town, and want to eat. Sinatra was in town to support Jilly Rizzo was in some legal issues, and Sinatra was there also to start the beginning of the Diamond Jubilee tour with Steve Lawrence and Eddie Gorme. Frank liked so show up three or four days before the beginning of concerts just to settle in. So Frank and Tony Oppedisano headed out to Frank's favorite places, which was owned by Vinnie Panetta. Tony Oppedisano called ahead to reserve a table, in the back to have some privacy for 8-8:30 pm. They pulled into the restaurant, and Vinnie met them outside, which was a rarity. Vinny would explain that he wanted to give them a heads up because their usual table was taken, and while he thought they would have been gone, they were still there, but he could rearrange things, it wouldn't be a problem.
A few minutes later they were escorted to the dining area, and in Frank's usual spot was John Gotti with a few of the guys. Sinatra and Tony would order drinks, and appetizers. While sipping drinks Tony looked over and saw one of Gotti's crew getting up and heading towards them. Tony stood up and met the crew member half way. The crew member said that John Gotti demanded that Sinatra come over to the table and say hello. Tony explained that there were a lot of people there, and that it wasn't a good idea, too many eyes and ears. The crew member allegedly explained that this was a non-negotiable request. Tony not knowing what to do simply said listen, Frank has a concert soon at the Meadowlands, feel free to contact Jilly Rizzo, for tickets and whatever else. Gotti would buy six seats in Sinatra's personal section, but never showed up, and the reason was because two hours before the show was supposed to start, Gotti was arrested by the feds with Frank Locascio and Salvatore Gravano.
There have been several stories that have been repeated throughout the years about this story, inflated, not close to reality, and over inflated. This story is the accurate one, from someone who was actually there, someone who understood and saw the situation play out. If you are curious about reading about Sinatra and more, please go out and buy the book Sinatra and Me, In the Wee Small Hours by Tony Oppedisano.