Perhaps one of the most famous saloon singers and popular entertainers of the 20th century, Frank Sinatra was in the spotlight of American culture for 60 years.
But at the age of 82, the jazz crooner suffered a heart attack and died on May 14, 1998 at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California.
Sinatra's long life and career were impactful beyond measure, and his death was considered a national loss.
But behind those soothing vocals and beautiful blue eyes was a pain that only few truly understood, and one Dr. Michael Hunter believes triggered his demise.
"Frank's famously short temper may have contributed to his death," the renown forensic pathologist says in Radar's exclusive sneak peek of REELZ's upcoming documentary, Autopsy: The Last Hours of... Frank Sinatra. "Recent studies show that chronic anger is as much a risk of heart attack as smoking and high cholesterol."
"Frank was the alpha dog. He was the boss," adds Frank Sinatra Biographer James Kaplan. "And if you angered him, you were nobody."
As a movie star, Sinatra was just as demanding.
"He got the reputation of being one-take Frank for a very good reason," explains his friend, actress Ruta Lee. "He would tell his crew members, 'I don't care how long it takes you to set up the lighting, I don't care how long it takes you to set up the dolly on the track, I don't wanna hear that there was a creek in the dolly, I don't wanna hear any of that! You're gonna get one take.'"
Though a true heartthrob, Frank could not escape the traumas of love.
After the end of his second marriage to Ava Gardner and several attempts at suicide, he started drinking heavily. Rare was the moment he did not have a glass of Jack Daniels in his hand. The habit – along with his short fuse and addiction to cigarettes – wreaked havoc on his health.
When he died, the causes of his heart failure appeared obvious. But Hunter believes Sinatra's fate was far from inevitable, saying there was a specific event that could have caused him to turn his life around.
"Two-and-a-half years after his collapse on stage," says the expert, "Frank made a rash decision, which put his life in danger."
Autopsy: The Last Hours of... Frank Sinatra premieres Sunday, June 20 at 8 PM ET/PT on REELZ.
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