‘Frank, Dean, Sammy, Peter, Joey & the Last Great Showbiz Party’
The Rat Pack were formerly known as the Clan, until they turned up at a Noel Coward gig in Las Vegas looking so rough that Lauren Bacall said they looked “like a goddamn rat pack”.
The Rat Pack were, of course, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop.
Levy’s exhilarating spiked cocktail kicks off in Las Vegas in January 1960 when Sinatra summons a group of friends there to make a movie. It was a time when Frank and his Pack pretty much owned the world of showbiz and defined what stardom was all about.
In Rat Pack Confidential we go on a bar crawl with stars,starlets, mobsters, corrupt politicos – even the President of the United States is a major player and far from saintly. It’s a booze up that turns into a monster hangover after just four adrenalin, ego and drink pumped years.
But it’s not just a biography of five famous men. It’s a biography of Vegas – its neon brightness casting sordid shadows, its murky corners – and of an era; an era burning out.
Most biographies- especially showbiz biographies- are as flat as week old champagne but Levy’s prose sparkles and fizzes and is damn well intoxicating. He pulls no punches in showing the Rat Pack’s unpleasant sides – the picture he paints shows their spiritual impotence as much as their cultural importance .
I reread this book last year, a decade since I’d last read it, and I loved it just as much on the second reading.
Ring a ding ding!