Not only is Nancy Sinatra Sr. alive and well and living in California, but last month, she also celebrated her 100th birthday on March 25 with her family. She is rarely seen in public these days and I had to do some fishing around on the Associated Press photo archive to find a “recent” photo, which is still a decade old. A devout Catholic, she never remarried after her divorce from Frank.
Even though Nancy Sr.’s birthday seemed to come and go with little fanfare compared to the attention bestowed to her famous late husband’s centennial, her daughter Nancy Jr., who I’ve met and interviewed a few times throughout the years, offered a nice birthday tribute to her mom online at www.nancysinatra.com.
Nancy Jr. shared rare family photographs on her website and the personal message: “Happy 100th Birthday, Mom! We celebrate you, your charm, grace and wisdom; 100 years of pride and purpose and decades of patience, love and guidance. How can we possible thank you Mom? You are the best! I love you so much.”
Nancy also included an audio recording of her serenading her mother’s special day with her rendition of the song “My Mother’s Eyes,” which includes the lyrics: “One bright and guiding light that taught me wrong from right I found in my mother’s eyes. God’s gift sent from above, a real unselfish love I found in my mother’s eyes.”
While Nancy Jr. did not include a full recent portrait photo of her mother, she did include a recent photo her mother’s hands, folded in prayer. She also shared stories about how throughout her life, her mother has always made it a habit to keep any extra packages of crackers she didn’t use while dining at a restaurant to stash in her purse “in case anyone ever got hungry later.”
Her mother also enjoys listening to her daughter’s radio show, called Nancy for Frank, which she hosts on the Sirius satellite radio channel Siriusly Sinatra each week.
For today’s recipe, in honor of Nancy Sr.’s special centennial birthday, I’m including her favorite clam sauce recipe for pasta which Frank loved. It’s a recipe I picked up years ago at a charity dinner event and it’s a simple classic, just like Nancy Sr., as well as delicious!
Sinatra Family Clam Sauce
Makes 12 servings
4 cloves of garlic or 1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup light olive oil
6 (6.5 ounce) cans of chopped clams, undrained
2 (16 ounce) packages angel hair pasta or linguini
Freshly grated Romano cheese
1. Sauté garlic in olive oil in a large skillet until lightly brown.
2. Add clams to the garlic oil and heat thoroughly over medium heat for 10 minutes.
3. Prepare pasta according to package until al dente. Do NOT overcook.
4. Drain pasta and add to serving dish.
5. Pour clam sauce over pasta and sprinkle with parsley and cheese
For Nancy, living amid her father’s stratospheric success never dissuaded her from following that path. The only event that derailed her was her first marriage, to the pop star Tommy Sands, in 1960. “I was old-fashioned. I married as a virgin. We were both way too young. You find that out, don’t you?” For five years of marriage she put her career on hold. She blames herself. “I made the stumbling block,” she says. “Had I had a sexual life prior, I would not have married. In those days you got married to have sex, sadly.”
Sinatra has some sage advice for this younger generation. “If young people have an opportunity, they have to examine it carefully. Don’t pooh-pooh it because it’s not the ideal situation.” She is looking forward to peace in the US again, but with cautious optimism. “I need to get over fighting back if I’m going to survive. Carrying that angst is not healthy. I hope we can get back to the freedoms we enjoy. I worry. I don’t want my granddaughters to grow up in a nation full of hate.” The flag flutters on behind her.