A BALI TIMES EXCLUSIVE : Sinatra ‘Lovechild’ Plans Bali Move
By William J. Furney
The Bali Times
SANUR ~ Eyes that look very familiar peer intently at me as I sit down at a restaurant in Sanur on Tuesday morning this week – Flashbacks, the perfect place, it occurs to me later, for an interview about someone’s life.
The eyes belong to Deana Sinatra, who claims the late silver-voiced crooner Frank Sinatra was her father, but never acknowledged her, a theme that has infused her life and one she has battled to come to terms with, despite fruitless efforts for recognition from Ol’ Blue Eyes.
Deana, now a youthful-looking 51 with long blond hair, is starting, like so many others before her, a new life in Bali, after having two children, who are now aged 20 and 17, and are fine with her relocation, though the younger is fearful of flying and Deana said she may have to go over to bring him to Bali for occasional visits.
Not just her eyes, but shape of her face and her movement of her head are reminiscent of Frank. It’s eerie, the intense similarity. Her mother, Eva Bartok, now deceased, was an actress from Hungary and met Frank in Hollywood, where they had a brief fling, and the result of that fleeting union is seated beside me.
Eva “truly fell in love with Frank,” said Deana. “She was doing Ten Thousand Bedrooms with Dean Martin. They met at a party.”
Deana – a triple passport-holder: British, American and Australian – was born in England and lived in Jakarta for three years, from 1967, when she went to the American International School, while her mother went on a “spiritual retreat” with the non-religious Subud organization that began life in this country. That, Deana told The Bali Times, was her undoing as an aspiring actress, as she was gone from the headlines as she searched for herself.
Deana herself has acted, and once in a possible collaboration with Frank Jr., and after agonizing, decided not to reveal to him that his father was also her father. “He had romantic intentions toward me,” she said, and spoke to her mother about it. Nothing transpired.
“I was at the time what was known in the industry as an ingénue. Which if you were a producer would mean doing coyly veiled nude scenes, which I would not do. We had many conversations in which he wanted to meet me alone to discuss the role. Red flag – already dealt with that, and on top of that I was very clear with him that I had a fiancée. At that point he backed off but I still got the role,” said Deana.
She was married for 11 years, to an Englishman who was a cameraman for the BBC and was stationed in Belfast, Northern Ireland. They moved to Australia, and started a family. But Deana said she became unhappy as their marriage progressed and they both eventually decided to end it, amicably.
“We’re on good terms, and the children have been living with him, after they lived with me for some time,” she said. “Children need a father… I’ve never known what it’s like to be held by a father.”
Deana, who changed her surname by deed poll to Sinatra after the singer’s death, because she thought it was the right thing to do, said she has had some relationships since, including long-term, but that she would never marry again. I wondered if the unintentional shadow cast by Frank had had some kind of influence in this sphere of her life, and with her constant relocation as a child. She agreed there was some truth in it.
Now Deana is on her own spiritual quest, and this is her fourth trip to Bali, for a month this time. She flew back to Sydney on Tuesday night, and hoped to complete a certificate in teaching the English language before getting a job, and its sponsorship to live and work here, and coming back. She plans to live in Sanur, and has already scouted out a place.
“I want to find out who I am,” she told me, and I asked if she wasn’t repeating the journey of introspection her mother had set out upon in Indonesia all those decades ago.
“I hadn’t really thought about it, but I suppose so,” she said, and I suggested that the influence of our parents is oftentimes so unconsciously potent that we don’t realize it.
“I love the Bali children,” Deana told me. “I wake up and I hear them and I just love them. She also says she wants “to give back to the world” and has hopes of working with orphanages here in Bali. And possibly in the public-relations field of tourism. “I so love Indonesia,” she said.
Sinatra, who was once described as “the first modern pop superstar,” and part of the “rat pack” that included such other luminaries of the silver screen as Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. – as well as Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland – died in May 1998 at a hospital in Los Angeles after suffering a heart attack. He was 82.
Even though Deana never knew her biological father – her mother would go on to have more relationships – she says she always felt a connection with him, when she heard him singing or saw his image.
The fact that Frank did not respond to Deana’s requests for recognition – she says she was never after any fame, or his money – does have a positive aspect for her. That’s because he never said she was not his child, and it seems she takes some solace in that. But still the longing was there. Deana said Frank had a number of out-of-wedlock children, one of whom, living in the US, had a medical condition and needed to get in touch with Frank to check familial records. Deana herself is diabetic.
When Frank married his first wife, Nancy Barbato, in 1939, the couple had three children until the end of their marriage, in 1951: Nancy, Frank Jr. and Tina. He married thrice more, to Ava Gardner, Mia Farrow and Barbara Marx.
After the spell in Jakarta, Deana’s mother took her to the United States, and it’s almost now as if Deana’s life has come full circle.
“I want to learn Bahasa,” she says, as she charts out this latest episode in her life odyssey. And part of that new chapter may be writing a book about her experiences, and famous heritage.
“I need to write it as my own right of passage,” she said.
Deana is already on her way to her new life in Bali. She has sold her apartment in Sydney, and placed her worldly items in storage.
“I’ll be living like a gypsy, staying at friends’ places, until I move to Bali,” she said.Filed under: Headlines