What better way to enjoy life than to get together with a bunch of friends in business and pleasure, enjoy your successes together and enjoy a non-stop party lifestyle. That was likely the thought going through the head of Frank Sinatra and his fellow group of entertainers (known as the rat pack). In addition to Sinatra, these A-listers included Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford amongst others. They were all known to frequent the Las Vegas casino scene.
in the 60’s the group casually met at the home of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall and decided to parlay their friendship and fame into joint ventures on both film and stage. Even today this can be seen in immortalised on screen representations such as movies like Ocean’s 11, and Robin and the 7 Hoods.
The name ‘rat pack’ is thought to have come from a comment made by Lauren Bacall to her husband and his friends returning from a night in Las Vegas. She had said “You look like a goddamn rat pack”. The name, which had been used prior to this is New York to refer to a group of friends, stuck ever since. Throughout the 50s, the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Errol Flynn, Jerry Lewis, Ava Gardner, Nat King Cole, Tony Curtis, David Niven and Mickey Rooney all moved in rat pack circles, though Sinatra was known as the ‘pack master’.
The 60’s saw the group expand to include the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. The fun was often very much centred around Las Vegas, and even John F. Kennedy was known to hang out with the group. Sinatra’s Mafia connections put pay to his offer to help Kennedy is his election campaign, but even the connection itself goes to show how much sway the rat pack had at its height.
Various Las Vegas concerts have been released, which capture some of the main players of the rat pack in full swing. One highlight was Sinatra, Martin and Davis in their Live from the Sands in Las Vegas CD. Vegas was also the setting of various rat pack connected movies, such as Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956) (starring cameos from Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.)