After a 10-year stay at Encore in Las Vegas, the gold statuette has been returned to his family. It no longer greets diners at a Steve Wynn-created restaurant named after Sinatra. Wynn acquired it as part of a rare loan arrangement with the singing legend’s family.
Also missing from the showcase at the entrance of the Sinatra Italian Restaurant: one of Sinatra’s 11 Grammys and an Emmy. All three awards were returned last spring, shortly after a sex scandal drove Wynn out of control of his gaming empire. He turns 77 Sunday.
A year ago this weekend numerous accusations by employees of sexual misconduct, allegedly perpetrated over decades, began surfacing. Wynn denied them, calling the charges “preposterous.” He stepped down as the controlling shareholder of his empire a week later.
Sinatra’s daughter Tina confirmed to the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the Academy Award has been returned to The Sinatra Family Estates and is headed for a Sinatra memorabilia collection at the University of Southern California.
Sixty-five years ago, the Best Supporting Actor Oscar went to Frank Sinatra for his role in “From Here to Eternity” as Pvt. Angelo Maggio, who was bullied by an Italian-hating Sgt. “Fatso” Judson, played by Ernest Borgnine.
Asked if the move was linked to Wynn’s departure amid a storm of lurid headlines, Tina Sinatra responded via email, “To be clear, the Oscar was on personal loan to Steve Wynn. It was intended to remain on display for five years, but you know Steve! After ten years, it seemed a good time to change-out the display and return the items to Sinatra Hall at the USC campus.”
In a brief phone interview Friday, she said that’s where her father’s Academy Award belongs.
“He prized the Oscars,” she said.
The statuette was featured in a glass showcase, in front of a gold-framed photo of Frank Sinatra kissing Donna Reed at the 1954 Academy Awards. She won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Alma “Lorene” Burke, the girlfriend of Montgomery Clift’s character in “From Here to Eternity.”
Replacing the Oscar, Grammy and Emmy is a new Sinatra exhibit, which Tina Sinatra described as a treasure trove of her “very personal keepsakes.” It includes two glass showcases with records, vintage photos and miniature busts.
Wynn could not be reached. He opened Encore on Dec. 22, 2008, and called the restaurant “the closest to my heart.” He became a steward of Frank Sinatra’s legacy after forging a friendship with the singer in the early 1980s when he lured Sinatra, then in his late 60s, to perform at Wynn’s Golden Nugget hotels in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Wynn’s profile soared after he appeared in self-deprecating TV commercials with the celebrity.
Frank Sinatra’s heirs had fiercely protected the icon’s name from appearing on restaurants and nightclubs around the world. Lawsuits stopped numerous attempts to take advantage of the prominent brand name.
His daughter said the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences takes a highly proprietary approach when it comes to Oscars.
“If someone broke in and ran off with it the Academy would be all over us,” Tina Sinatra told the Review-Journal in 2010 at a Wynn dinner. “They make you feel like the award was leased.”
Norm Clarke, a former Review-Journal columnist, may be reached at email@example.com.
Wynn Las Vegas released the following details Friday about a new Frank Sinatra exhibit at Encore:
Portrait Bust of Frank Sinatra
Jo Davidson (1883-1952)
During the Truman Presidency, Frank Sinatra was invited to visit the White House where he encountered a bust of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, completed by Jo Davidson (who had also depicted Gertrude Stein, Albert Einstein, Walt Whitman, and Helen Keller). Frank so admired the work that he soon afterward commissioned the famed artist to sculpt his own bust, which was cast 25 times before the mold was destroyed. Completed in 1946, this bust depicts Sinatra at age 30, just after the debut of his first album, “The Voice of Frank Sinatra.”
Portrait Bust of Frank Sinatra
Robert Berks (1922-2011)
This work by sculptor Robert Berks, whose portrait of John F. Kennedy can be seen at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., was presented to Sinatra during the 1976 Scopus Awards ceremony, where Sinatra was honored for his philanthropic efforts with the American Friends of Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Stepped Cigar Box
Tiffany and Company
c. 1913, engraved c. 1948
Originally designed by a famed silversmith, then working for Tiffany and Company, this was Sinatra’s personal cigar box. The lower box contained cigars, the middle cigarettes, and the upper box held matches with an integrated cigar cutter. The engraving with Sinatra’s name is a later addition to the box, which was given to him in 1948. It remained in Sinatra’s home as his personal cigar box throughout his life.
Commemorating a Christmastime recording session with his Session Band, this box was given to Frank Sinatra by “The Boys” with whom he’d spent so much time. Ol’ Blue Eyes toured extensively during the year, so the holiday season brought him back to family and friends in Los Angeles. Most of his recording for Capital Records was done during this time of year, and this box memorializes a special session that was likely featured on his next album, “Christmas Songs by Sinatra” (1948). The box is signed by all members of the session band who accompanied his voice in the recording.