Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for years.
Who Was the Rat Pack?
The Rat Pack was an iconic group of musicians and actors that defined the word cool in the 1960s. Comprised of members Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop, the group was famous for their wild shenanigans, love of women, and all-around fun persona. Let's take a closer look at the dynamic Rat Pack.
1. The Rat Pack was a term used to describe a group of musicians and actors in the 1950s and 60s who embodied the term "cool." Famously consisting of big names like Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford, the A-List group took Hollywood by storm.
2. The name "Rat Pack" was not actually a complimentary term. The phrase's origin comes from a moment when iconic movie star Humphrey Bogart came home from Las Vegas with his hard-partying group of friends. Bogart's wife, actress Lauren Bacall, allegedly came downstairs and scolded the group, claiming they looked "like a goddamn rat pack." The catchphrase quickly caught on.
3. There were actually two different Rat Packs, one popular in the 50s and another (the most famous and notable) in the 60s. The first consisted of Humphrey Bogart, Mickey Rooney, Errol Flynn, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Cesar Romero and Jerry Lewis.
4. The name of the iconic Great Dane cartoon character Scooby-Doo has Frank Sinatra to thank for his namesake. The famous mutt's creator, Iwao Takamoto, listened to Sinatra's hit song "Strangers in the Night" and noticed his scatting (which sounded like "dooby dooby doo.") This ultimately led to the character's name.
5. Ocean's 11 (1960) was a famed heist movie that featured all five of the Pack's members in lead roles (Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop).
6. Dean Martin wasn't actually a big fan of parties, despite his reputation and membership in the Pack. Not only was he religious and a devout Catholic, but he was also self-described as shy and ashamed of the way he spoke.
7. Joey Bishop was considered the more serious man of the group regarding comedy and wild antics. Ironically, he was also the member who wrote their comedic material behind the scenes.
8. Bishop was also insecure about his standing with the Pack and felt like an outsider. He would constantly wait for an invitation to join the rest of the group when dining. His close friend Sinatra once reportedly said, "Goddammit, how long does he have to be with me before he knows he can eat with us?"
9. The group often performed at the Copa Room in the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. Whenever a member was booked, billboards would hint at the surprise appearances of the other members.
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10. The Rat Pack was known for its association with many famous actresses, including Lauren Bacall, Shirley MacLaine, Marilyn Monroe, Juliette Prowse, and Angie Dickinson. The leading ladies made many appearances in the Rat Pack films. Frank Sinatra even had romantic relationships with Prowse and Dickinson.
11. The Sands Hotel and Casino attempted to refuse service to Sammy Davis Jr., and Frank Sinatra would constantly go to bat for him. He would ensure that Davis Jr. got a suite and invited other black friends like Nat King Cole to dine with him.
12. All the members of the Rat Pack would also star in the films Robin and the 7 Hoods and Sergeants 3 (though Peter Lawford was eventually replaced in the former).
13. Scandal alert! Ringleader Sinatra spent a good portion of the 1960s utilizing his fame and organized sex parties for his fellow Rat Pack members. These parties were often held in the steam rooms of a casino's health club, with both groupies and prostitutes being invited along.
14. The Rat Pack never referred to itself as such after Humphrey Bogart's death in 1957. The media and public used the term. The members actually preferred to call themselves the Clan or the Summit.
15. Musician Paul Anka was considered an honorary member of the Pack and would later reveal that the members all had their own special nicknames. Dean Martin was "Dino," Sammy Davis Jr. was "Smokey the Bear," and Anka himself was "the Kid" because he was much younger than the other members.
16. The group would call themselves the "Jack Pack" while campaigning for John F. Kennedy to become the next President of the United States. Peter Lawford was Kennedy's brother-in-law.
17. The Rat Pack once ordered 300 Bloody Marys from room service throughout a single night.
18. Peter Lawford eventually fell out with the Rat Pack when his brother-in-law, John F. Kennedy, snubbed Sinatra and began distancing himself from the crooner in favor of Republican Bing Crosby. Kennedy was discouraged from affiliating with Sinatra due to his criminal connections. Sinatra was infuriated and cut Lawford out of the Rat Pack completely.
19. The Rat Pack collaborated on five albums as a group (presumably one for every member); the most notable was The Rat Pack Live at the Sands in 1960.
20. During the filming of Ocean's 11, the Rat Pack would constantly ad-lib their lines instead of sticking to the script as they felt they were funnier than the script.
21. The original Rat Pack had a coat of arms: a rat gnawing on a human hand. The group's motto was "Never rat on a rat."
22. According to Paul Anka, Sinatra did, in fact, have connections to the mob. Anka said Sinatra would perform favors for mobsters, and they would, in turn, provide him with thousands of dollars worth of chips to play in the casino.
23. Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana's men offered to kill Frank Sinatra in response to the singer's failed attempts to get the Kennedys to stop their crackdown on organized crime. On an FBI wiretap, the mobster was heard saying, "Let's hit Sinatra. Or I could whack out a couple of those other guys." Rather than kill them, Giancana and Sinatra worked out a mutually beneficial deal.
24. In 1967, billionaire Howard Hughes bought real estate (including the Sands). Hughes took a hard line with his performers, cutting off Sinatra's generous credit line. This caused Sinatra to move to Caesar's Palace, while Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. remained.
© 2020 Rachel M Johnson