Sinatra Jr never forgot comfort given to father during kidnapping

Frank Sinatra Jr. never forgot the Nevada district attorney who comforted his legendary father during his son’s kidnapping ordeal.

Former Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt Bono said Sinatra Jr. later met with Bill Raggio on many occasions while the latter was Nevada’s longest-serving state senator.

“He loved Sen. Raggio,” said Hunt Bono. “Bill was district attorney in Reno when Frank Jr. was kidnapped at Lake Tahoe (in December, 1963).

“Raggio was obviously Italian and when Frank called Raggio (at the time of the kidnapping), he got very involved. Raggio attended a lot of our fundraising dinners” during her campaigns, said Hunt Bono, who was Lt. governor from 1999 to 2006 and ran for governor against Jim Gibbons in 2007.

Sinatra Jr., 19 at the time, was released by one of the kidnappers near Los Angeles a week later after his father paid a $240,000 ransom. It was one of the most infamous kidnappings in U.S. history.

Sinatra Jr. died Wednesday in a Daytona Beach hospital from a heart attack. He was 72.

Hunt Bono said Sinatra Jr. loved driving across Nevada. “He loved the rurals. He was a walking encyclopedia when it came to Nevada history.”

Known as Lorraine Hunt when she was a Clark County commissioner from 1996 to 1998, Hunt Bono sponsored the ordinance that led to Frontage Road being changed to Frank Sinatra Drive.

“He always said he got tears in his eyes when he drove into town and saw the street sign with his dad’s name on it,” she said.

Sinatra Jr. was “in so many ways underestimated and under-appreciated for his musicality because his father was such a huge icon and such a big personality.”

Veteran musician Beth Lano performed locally and toured with both Sinatras.

She played the French horn chair in Sinatra Jr.’s orchestra for “Sinatra Sings Sinatra” at The Smith Center last June. It was the last time he performed here.

They met when she was public relations director for the Musicians Union of Las Vegas during the 1989 musicians strike.

“He was a true friend to musicians,” she said.

“He made a point this last time of inviting me to spend some time catching up, which we did before the show and again with some of his core traveling musicians at intermission.

“He was so thoughtful and kind, serious one minute and telling corny jokes the next.”

On this day

March 21, 2003: A 25-year-old software engineer from Los Angeles puts $100 in a Megabucks slot machine at the Excalibur Hotel and wins $39.7 million – the all-time record for a slot machine payout.

March 22, 1999: David Strickland, co-star (with Brooke Shields) of the NBC sitcom “Suddenly Susan,” hangs himself at the Oasis, a seedy hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. The popular, boyish actor was 29 and had battled alcoholism and bipolar disorder.

The scene and heard

There are unique perks when it comes to working with entertainment giant Cirque du Soleil. Just ask Myron Martin, president and CEO of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts. While putting together the “One Night for One Drop” show, Cirque decided they needed a trap, or hole, to feature more aerialists. “They built a really fancy and expensive trap and are leaving it behind,” said Martin. “It gives the illusion someone can main an entrance from the floor or disappear into the floor,” he said. It was a win-win-win for the Smith Center: they hosted Cirque’s showcase event, worked with Cirque’s crack crew of 500 and got a stage trap to boot…

Dave Kirvin, co-founder of PR powerhouse Kirvin Doak Communications, was watching “One Drop” with his family on Friday when he was pulled from his aisle seat and escorted onto the stage. Two quirky costumed characters conducted a dance contest between Kirvin and an out-of-town guest. It was not a setup, said Kirvin. “Only my family has known of my extraordinary dancing skills so it was nice to share that with Las Vegas and, really, the world. However, it was also my farewell tour and I’m announcing my retirement from the stage.”

Sightings

Actress Brittany Snow of “Pitch Perfect,” lounging in a white swim suit at Encore Beach Club (Wynn) on Saturday. Her friend, Dillon Francis, was in the DJ booth… Among the celebrities attending “One Night for One Drop:” NeNe Leakes of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” singer-songwriter Natasha Bedingfield, Michael Jackson’s long-time choreographer Travis Payne, Luxor headliner Criss Angel, poker star Daniel Negreanu and TV star Katherine Bailess of VHI’s “Hit the Floor.”

The punch line

“In Florida, a drunk half-naked woman crashed her car into a Waffle House. Just a reminder, once again, Florida will likely determine who our next president is.” – Conan O’Brien

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