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Across America, A Plaintive Note Of Mourning
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Grief; Public opinion; Entertainment; Musicians & conductors
Author: Waxman, Sharon||||||Span, Paula
Date: May 16, 1998
Start Page: A.01
Section: A SECTION

Sure, everybody knew he'd been sick, and Frank Sinatra was plenty old -- but still, when people across the country heard the news that he'd died late Thursday night, they cried, they ached, they rested their memories in the cradle of his music, which once again filled the airwaves and took over television screens. For the many millions of fans who felt they knew Ol' Blue Eyes, Sinatra had written the score to their lives and lived their rags-to-riches fantasies. He was a musical monument from before most of them were born.

Seventy-year-old Genevieve Larioni had her hair done and put on her best powder-blue polka-dot lounging suit to visit the only public place in Los Angeles where mourning Sinatra fans gathered. Bouquets of carnations, a few roses and votive candles surrounded his bronze star at Hollywood and Vine, one of three that bear his name on the Walk of Fame (for film, recording and television). "I got nostalgic and shed a tear. I said a prayer," she said, her eyes welling up again, as she gazed at the flowers and an old album cover with a sign that said "Frank -- we are alone and lonely." She added, "He's a part of my life, my memories. . . . I'm not surprised, but it hurts. He's a legend."

So famous for so long, Sinatra was able to touch the lives of fans over six decades. But his most ardent longtime fans are themselves now senior citizens. "I'd see Frank in Vegas, he used to live here. I knew him and Sammy {Davis}. But I didn't drink or smoke, so he didn't pay much attention to me," said 82-year-old Nona Raye, a sometime photographer and former club hostess who lived on the edges of the Rat Pack's fame. Raye was standing in the lobby of the Hollywood Plaza Hotel, a former five-star lair for movie stars in the 1950s, now a home for the aged. Many of the octogenarians in the lobby, seated just a few feet from Sinatra's star in the sidewalk, remembered the singer fondly as part of their childhoods.

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