A Hollywood agent remembers her as "a boisterous lady a sort of Auntie MameBae Arthur type of woman," an "Italian Matriarch" who helped steer her son to success.
If so, Natalie Sinatra would have savored the scene here in the past two days - the famous and powerful from two centers of celebrity, Beverly Hills and Palm Springs, coming out to mourn the death of the 82-year-old daughter of a Genoa stonecutter.
Mrs. Sinatra, the mother the singer Frank Sinatra, died along with three others last Thursday in a plane crash on the snow-covered San Bernardino Mountains near here. She was on her way to her son's opening engagement at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.
In customary Hollywood style, Sinatra fans and other onlookers stood outside memorial services Tuesday in Bevearly Hills and Palm Springs and at yesterday's funeral service here, where the parade of film and TV celebrities lent an inevitably giamorous air to the otherwise somber occasion.
The funeral service began at noon at the St. Louis Catholic Church in Cathedral City outside Palm Springs. Fifteen minutes before the ceremony, a large blue Cadillac pulled up and let out Frank Sinatra, his wife Barbara, son Frank Jr., and daughters Tina and Nancy.
They were joined at the 60-minute High Requiem mass by some of Hollywood's leading names, including Cary Grant, former California Gov. Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy, actor William Demerest, television personality Ed McManon and singer Wayne Newton. Among the pallbearers were Gregory Peck, Danny Thomas, Dean Martin and long-time Sinatra associate Jilly Rizzo.
Outside the church, a crowd of about 150 was kept in order by a dozen large, serious-looking men in dark suits retained by the Sinatras.
At Tuesday evening's special rosary service at the Church of the Good Shepherd on Santa Monica Boulevard, the small church was nearly packed with cekebrities, Hollywood industry heavies and the breathless fans who follow all Sinatras to the end. Singer Danny THomas, a close family friend, gave the eulogy.
Milton Berle, Gene Barry, Loretta Young, Kirk Douglas, Don Rickies and many others were on hand to pay their respects.A handful of somewhat younger stars, including James Darren, Suzanne Pleshette, and Helen Reddy, gave the affair the mandatory stylishness and good looks.
Yestarday's funeral was ocnducted by San Diego Bishop Leo T. Maher at the 900-seat church, nestled between the snow-crested mountains, where Mrs. Sinatra used to pray. Natalie Sinatra was the major contributor to the church and accounted for about 25 per cent of its funds, according the Rev. William Kaifer. "She was a woman of strong, firm faith," he said.
When Frank Sinatra was growing up in New Jersey, "Mama" was by all accounts the dominant parent. Anthony Sinatra, who died five years ago, is generally remembered as a rather quiet, unobstrusive man."She was wonderful, but if she was my grandmother, she'd drive me crazy."
Sometimes Frank went against his mother's dictums, such as when he rejected college in favor of a singing career. But throughout th performer's life, she nevertheless remained an important adviser and confidante. It was her long involvement with the rough-and-tumble Democratic ward politics of Hoboken, N.j., that ultimately led Frank into entanglements with political personalities.
"She was a tremendous influence in his life," recalls actor Peter Lawford. "His interests in politics came from her." Lawford, a one-time Kennedy inlaw, grew close to Sinatra during the singer's long affiliation with the Democratic Party.
Later in the '60s. Natalie and Frank awould disagree politically when Sinatra took to backing Republicans Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. "She was a Democratic ward-heeler and she thought you should support the party's candidates - always."
The interest generated in Beverly Hills and Palm Springs by Mrs, Sinatra's death is testament that fan worship and fglamor still cling to the entertainment industry. For some people waiting outside the two churches, the death of Mrs. Sinatra simply provided a golden opportunity to see cerelebrity society.
Standing outside the Church of he Good Shepheard in Beverly Hills on Tuesday night, Jannine Doenau, 16, of Sydney, Australia, said Mrs. Sinatra's death had upset her, and she expressed her sympathy for te entire family.
But Doenau admitted that her real reason for coming to the Sinatra service was to see te stars and be able to tell her friends back in Australia - where Sinatra is well-remembered for a July 1974 flare-up at the Australian press - all about it.
"We don't have the Sinatreas in Australia," the young woman said with a smile. "We're gonna tell our friends we went to the services for Natalie Sinatra and we sure saw some big ones."