Well Frank Sinatra had a cold back in the winter of 1965, and his sniffles inspired a landmark magazine profile in Esquire magazine by Gay Talese. In 2007, Vanity Fair called it “the greatest literary-nonfiction story of the 20th century.”
Sinatra refused to talk to Talese for the piece. So Talese spent three months tracking Sinatra from afar, watching him closely, building a long article out of his own observations and interviews with the people who surrounded the superstar – family, friends, flunkies, and fame-sniffers.
The piece, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” was an extraordinary and incisive narrative, an early example of what has become known as New Journalism. America, celebrity, TV, motherhood, Sinatra, journalism – the piece hit all the notes, with meticulously researched detail throughout.
It was greatness born of necessity.
The cover of the April 1966 issue of Esquire is also memorable and iconic. By Edward Sorel, the illustration gives us a weary Sinatra with a cigarette in his mouth and five hands with lighters and matches eager to serve the star.
Let’s see if Tom Brady’s cold inspires something special, perhaps on Sunday.