What was the Rat Pack? The better question is who was the Rat Pack?
The Rat Pack - Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr., and Joey Bishop - weren't the original Rat Pack [more on that later] but they were definitely five of the coolest guys around during the 1950s and 1960s. The Rat Pack of Ocean's Eleven fame grew out of Humphrey Bogart's circle of friends and became synonymous with booze, women, and the nightlife. Rat Pack members not only partied together, but worked with one another on albums, movie sets, and on stage. There were numerous associates, outsiders wanting to get in, ladies, and even mobsters that were tied to the group, adding to the lore around the famous five. Rat Pack stories reveal a lot about its members who found friendship, fun, and even a bit of rebellion during their heyday.
Humphrey Bogart Surrounded Himself With Friends That Became Known As "The Rat Pack"
The Holmby Hills Rat Pack, as it became known, formed during the 1940s and 1950s and was centered around Bogart. Sinatra was a member of the esteemed group that also included Bogart's wife, Lauren Bacall, actress Judy Garland and her husband Sid Luft, and actor David Niven and his wife Hjordis, among others. Sinatra was taken under Bogart's wing and enjoyed the camaraderie of the group, which spent most of its time in California and migrated to Las Vegas on occasion for parties and nights out.
Lauren Bacall Gave The Rat Pack Their Name
Actress Lauren Bacall met Humphrey Bogart on the set of To Have And Have Not in 1944 and the two quickly became romantically involved. Bogart was 25 years older than Bacall and married at the time. Bogart quickly divorced his wife, and he and Bacall were married in 1945. Bacall was the "Den Mother" of the group that surrounded her husband and, after she came upon the lot after they returned from a long night of drinking, she was supposed to have said "you look like a goddamn rat pack!"
The name stuck. Bogart and his friends designed a coat of arm, established a motto - "never rat on a rat" - and claimed to live a bohemian lifestyle.
After Humphrey Bogart Died, Sinatra Wanted To Create A Group Of His Own
Bogart died in 1957, and the original Rat Pack fell by the wayside. Sinatra missed the friendships he'd established and sought to recreate the experience with his own group. He first reached out to Dean Martin, his costar in 1958's Some Came Running. Martin had recently split up from his comedy partner Jerry Lewis, and Sinatra was attracted to his wit and charm. Sinatra soon brought Sammy Davis Jr. into the fold, a dancer that he'd met years before. British actor Peter Lawford and comedian Joey Bishop soon followed, rounding out the original five.
The Members Of The Rat Pack Never Called Themselves That
The description of Sinatra, Martin, Davis Jr., Lawford, and Bishop as "The Rat Pack" was one that the media used but the members didn't. When the group was first formed, it was called "The Clan," although Sinatra was said to have hated the name because of its racial overtones. The members were also referred to as "The Summit," which is how Sinatra became known as "The Chairman of the Board."
Once, when a reporter called the group The Rat Pack to Sinatra's face, he told him that it was a "stupid phrase."