By the early 1940s, Frank Sinatra—or “Frankie,” as the up-and-coming twenty-something was known at the time—was already one of America’s hottest new talents. Marketed as “The Voice That Has Thrilled Millions,” Sinatra was wowing audiences and breaking hearts all across the country with his extraordinary singing voice, effortless charm, and boyish good looks.
But by 1943, he found himself at something of a dead end. He was playing to packed houses, full of his screaming “bobbysoxer” fans, but Sinatra’s name was climbing no higher on the playbill. The problem, Sinatra reasoned, came down to poor publicity. His manager at the time, Milt Rubin, was little more than a basic PR man and treated Frank, regardless of his obvious talent, as just another act alongside all the vaudeville comedians, ventriloquists, conjurors, and performers on his books. To advance his career, Sinatra needed a change. And in 1943, he found it.
Of all the contacts and connections that Sinatra used to advance his career, perhaps the most surprising was his Rabbi, Manie Sacks. He arranged a meeting between Frank and George B. Evans, one of the most accomplished and successful publicists working at the time. Evans listened to Sinatra’s songs, attended one of his wildly popular concerts, and signed him up all but instantly. Before long, he was using every trick in his book to create a buzz around his new favorite client, including hiring fake fans.
Reportedly, Evans soon set about auditioning several young women and actresses and hired all those who could scream the loudest. He then paid them a nominal fee of $5 to attend one of the shows Sinatra was playing and scream hysterically throughout the show to whip up excitement ahead of Frank’s big entrance. The ploy worked perfectly, and before long Sinatra was topping playbills across the country, well on his way to becoming one of the biggest music stars in Hollywood history.