Nancy Sinatra: Frank Sinatra's first wife from 1939 to 1951 (1917 - 2018) | Biography
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Nancy Sinatra
Frank Sinatra's first wife from 1939 to 1951

Nancy Sinatra

Nancy Sinatra
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Frank Sinatra's first wife from 1939 to 1951
A.K.A. Nancy Rose Barbato
From United States of America Jersey
Gender female
Birth 25 March 1917, Jersey City, Hudson County, New Jersey, USA
Death 13 July 2018, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, California, USA (aged 101 years)
Star sign Aries
Spouse: Frank Sinatra (4 February 1939-29 October 1951)
Children: Nancy SinatraFrank Sinatra, Jr.Tina Sinatra
William L. Dickinson High School, Jersey City, New Jersey
University of California, Los Angeles
The details


Nancy Rose Barbato (March 25, 1917 – July 13, 2018) was the first wife of celebrated American singer/actor Frank Sinatra, from 1939 to 1951. She joined him at the beginning of his career as a singer and actor.

Youth and marriage

Nancy Rose Barbato was born on March 25, 1917, in Jersey City, New Jersey, to Italian immigrants Michaelangelo Barbato and his wife Jennie Fogacci. She received her high school diploma from William L. Dickinson High School in Jersey City. During a summer vacation with her family in Jersey Shore, at the age of seventeen, she met the then nineteen-year-old Frank Sinatra who was also there with his family. They fell in love and were married at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Jersey City on February 4, 1939. Two days after the wedding, they both went back to work—Sinatra as a singing waiter in a restaurant and Barbato as a secretary in a printing house. They rented an apartment in Jersey City where their first child, daughter Nancy Sinatra was born in 1940. After this, they moved to Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, where son Frank Jr. and daughter Tina Sinatra (Christina) were born in 1944 and 1948, respectively. The eldest two children (Nancy and Frank Jr.) later became pop singers, while Tina became an actress and film producer. 

In the first years of the marriage, the couple was not wealthy. Outside of work, Barbato provided meals and cooked vegetarian spaghetti to save money, sewed clothes herself, and encouraged her husband to pursue a career as a singer. At the time, he performed with Tommy Dorsey's orchestra in a vocal group, The Pied Pipers. After he signed a contract to tour with bandleader Harry James, Barbato accompanied Sinatra on tours. She was also active as her husband's right-hand man, making and repairing his bow ties, answering fan mail he received, and arranging the finances. In the 1940s, she moved to California with him when he started a career as a film actor in Hollywood.


Living in California, Sinatra had numerous extramarital affairs, and gossip magazines published details of affairs with women including Marilyn MaxwellLana Turner, and Joi Lansing. Ultimately, he left Barbato for the actress Ava Gardner in 1951.

Barbato refused a divorce for a long time because she considered the marriage too valuable to give up. Finally, when it became clear that he did not want to return, she agreed to a divorce in 1951 so that her husband could marry his new lover. She was given full custody of the children upon the divorce. In addition, she got their home in Los Angeles, a Cadillac, and a fixed percentage of Sinatra's income each year.

Later years

Barbato and Sinatra enjoyed an amicable relationship until the end of Sinatra's life in 1998. He visited her regularly and there were regular family dinners and birthday parties as well as holidays they spent together. 

Barbato further educated the children and also went to study at the University of California, Los Angeles. 

Ten years after the divorce, she hosted a big party on December 12, 1965, to mark Frank Sinatra's 50th birthday. Apart from organizing social affairs, Barbato was sparing in her public appearances. In 1974, she made an appearance in the 22nd March episode of Dinah Shore's talk show Dinah's Place. The following year, she was featured in Torbjörn Axelman's documentary on Sinatra titled, Nancy & Lee in Las Vegas.

Barbato also worked on a two-part documentary about the life of her former husband in 2015, Sinatra: All or nothing at all.

Unlike her husband, who married three more times after their marriage, Barbato never remarried. 


Barbato passed away on July 13, 2018, in Rancho Mirage, California, at the age of 101.

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