Nancy Sinatra Sr., the first wife of legendary singer Frank Sinatra, died on Friday, July 13. She was 101.
“My mother passed away peacefully tonight at the age of 101. She was a blessing and the light of my life,” her daughter, singer Nancy Sinatra, announced via Twitter on Friday evening. “Godspeed, Momma. Thank you for everything.”
My mother passed away peacefully tonight at the age of 101. She was a blessing and the light of my life. Godspeed, Momma. Thank you for everything.
— Nancy Sinatra (@NancySinatra) July 14, 2018
A similar message was posted on the Sinatra family’s official website: “Godspeed, Momma and thank you for everything you did for us and for the world.”
Nancy (née Barbato) married Frank in Jersey City, New Jersey, in February 1939. She worked as a secretary in a printing plant at the time, while her husband tried to start his career in music as a singing waiter at a local restaurant. The couple went on to have three children together: Nancy, 78, Tina, 70, and Frank Jr., who died at age 72 in March 2016.
Frank quickly became a rising name in showbiz thanks to several mega-successful music and movie deals. He starred in Ocean’s 11, From Here to Eternity and Pal Joey, among others.
A string of headline-making extramarital affairs on the “My Way” crooner’s part led to the end of the couple’s marriage in 1951, most notably with Ava Gardner, whom he wed in November 1951 just days after signing divorce papers with Nancy.
Frank and Nancy remained friends, but she never remarried. He eventually divorced Gardner in 1957 before his unions with Mia Farrow from 1966 to 1968 and Barbara Marx Sinatra from 1976 until his death at age 82 in May 1998.
“She was deeply in love and terribly hurt. I would hear her crying quietly at night while I was going to sleep,” daughter Nancy once said, according to the family’s website. “She would never show it in front of us, never, but my room was next to hers and I would tiptoe out and I’d listen at the door and she’d be crying. Sometimes I would go in to her and just put my arms around her.”
In the years after the divorce, Nancy devoted her life to her family and charitable work.