Frank Sinatra Wooed Mia Farrow By Taking Her (and Her Cat) on His Private Plane
The couple met on the 20th Century Fox lot in 1964.
Who: Golden Globe-winning actress Mia Farrow, 76, and Grammy and Oscar-winning musician and actor Frank Sinatra, who passed away in 1998 at the age of 82.
How They Met: Farrow met Sinatra in 1964, when she was 19 and he was nearing 50. The actress was on the 20th Century Fox lot filming Peyton Place when she ran into the crooner, who was shooting WWII film Von Ryan's Express.
Their courtship involved a private plane ride (for Farrow and her deaf cat, Malcolm) to Sinatra's Palm Springs abode.
"I got there and he showed me around the house," Farrow told Howard Stern in 1997. "He had a separate room for me. I was holding the cat and I said 'I better get a cat box,' because we'd flown all the way from L.A. … And he gave me a really great kiss. He took the cat out of my arms, he was real romantic, and he put it on the floor."
"This one don't talk, she don't eat, what's she do?" Sinatra's mother Dolly reportedly said at the time. "It won't last long, so I guess it's a good thing they weren't married in the church."
Why We Loved Them: Despite the dissolution of their marriage, Farrow and Sinatra remained allies and friends in the decades to come.
As early as 1971 Farrow said she had "only warm feelings for Frank," noting that he'd "often" call her mother, Maureen O'Sullivan, to get an update on his ex.
It was widely reported that after Farrow's daughter Dylan told her she'd been molested by her father, Woody Allen, Sinatra (who was notorious for his mafia ties) offered to break the filmmaker's legs.
Though at the time (in court) Farrow called the overture a "joke," when Howard Stern broached the topic during their 1997 interview, stating "Frank offered to break Woody's legs" as a matter of fact, the Rosemary's Baby star replied, "Isn't that sweet of him?"
Later, in 2013, Farrow revealed in an interview with Vanity Fair that she and Sinatra "never really split up." When asked upfront about the rumor du jour, whether her son Ronan, whose father was previously thought to be Allen, was actually biologically Sinatra's, Farrow didn't deny it. "Possibly," she said. "Was he the great love of your life?" Writer Maureen Orth asked Farrow later in the interview. "Yes," Farrow responded.
As expected, Farrow's admission about Ronan's possible paternity set the media ablaze. Sinatra's daughter, Nancy Sinatra Jr., insisted that Farrow had been "making a joke" with her "possibly." Years later, Allen told Vulture that he thought Ronan was his son, hedging, "I wouldn't bet my life on it." Sinatra biographer James Kaplan argued that it wasn't possible for the singer to have fathered Ronan, writing that Sinatra had gotten a vasectomy "well before" Ronan's birth year of 1987.
Farrow has been cagey when it comes to follow-ups about her Vanity Fair bombshell. When asked about her comment in a 2018 interview with Elle, the actress said, "Will it still fly if I say he was an immaculate conception?" cheekily adding, "It worked for Mary."
When They Peaked: In Mr. S: My Life With Frank Sinatra, Sinatra's longtime valet George Jacobs wrote that on the very day the singer first met Farrow he asked him to pick up copies of all the leading fashion magazines "to admire the endless versions of Mia who filled their pages."
"It was as if he was testing himself to see if he could truly get excited by this new breed of creature," Jacobs went on.
Sweet? … and also overwhelmingly creepy? He's thorough, I guess.
As the story goes, Sinatra was not excited about Farrow landing the title role in a little movie called Rosemary's Baby. Production ran long and it prevented her from taking on a supporting role in Sinatra's film, The Detective.
"In terms of what Frank would say, I shouldn't have done any movies," Farrow told Vanity Fair. "He's on the record saying, 'I'm a pretty good provider. I can't see why a woman would want to do anything else.' That's the way men thought, and you felt pretty guilty wanting something for yourself."
Still, Farrow stayed with the now-classic Roman Polanski film and, perhaps as a result, was delivered divorce papers from Sinatra on set in late 1967.
Of course, this wasn't the only conflict between the couple. Farrow has pointed to her young age as a source of incompatibility.
"I was less mature than any other 19-year-old I've ever known," Farrow told The Guardian in 2007. "Poor Frank, saddled with such a child. I would be falling asleep at the table at Las Vegas, trying to talk to people about their cats. He was very patient with me."
In 1989 Farrow told The L.A. Times that the marriage "wasn't an experience I would want to repeat."
Jacobs also wrote of a concerning incident with Sinatra and Farrow's beloved cat.
"She always talked in sign language to the cat, who was deaf," Jacobs began. "Mia's obsession with Malcolm was bad enough, but the sign language really got on Frank's nerves." The tension culminated when Sinatra lit a cherry bomb and set it by the cat's food bowl.
"The poor thing ran off like a cat out of hell," Jacobs continued. "Frank, who was obsessed with stupid practical jokes, and particularly ones with Three Stooges-type explosives, burst out laughing and couldn't stop. I honestly hadn't seen him so happy since he married Mia. 'Deaf?' was all he said."
Backward views on women's empowerment and abusive behavior toward cats notwithstanding, Farrow continued to love and support Sinatra.
She attended the singer's 1998 funeral with her son, Ronan, as well as both Sinatra's first wife and daughter, both of whom are named Nancy. Farrow said she dropped several items into her ex-husband's casket, including her wedding ring. Years prior it had been reported that the ring Farrow left was inscribed with the word "dreams," an allusion to her decision to follow her dreams and appear in Rosemary's Baby instead of Sinatra's Detective. While it's unclear if there's any truth to that, it does make for a good story …
Where They Are Now:
Farrow wed musician André Previn in 1970. During their time together they welcomed twins Matthew and Sascha, son Fletcher, and adopted daughters Lark, Daisy, and Soon-Yi. After she and Previn split in 1979, Farrow adopted son Moses and daughter Dylan, both of whom were later adopted by the actress's then-boyfriend, Allen. Farrow then gave birth to Ronan in 1987. After her acrimonious split from Allen, Farrow adopted daughter Tam, son Isaiah, and then daughters Quincy and Frankie Minh.
Sinatra married wife Barbara in 1976 and they remained together until his death in 1998.
#TBT: Check in every Thursday as we throw it back to some of our favorite celebrity couples of all time.