What was the Rat Pack - or, better yet, who was in the Rat Pack? Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr., and Joey Bishop weren't the original Rat Pack, but they were definitely five of the coolest guys around during the 1950s and '60s.
The Rat Pack of Ocean's 11 fame grew out of Humphrey Bogart's circle of friends, becoming synonymous with booze, women, and the nightlife. Rat Pack members not only partied together, but worked with one another on albums, movie sets, and stages. There were numerous associates, outsiders wanting to join, ladies, and even mobsters with supposed ties 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 a bit of rebellion during their heyday.
The Holmby Hills Rat Pack, as it became known, formed during the 1940s and '50s; the group centered around Bogart. Sinatra was a member of the esteemed group, which included Bogart's wife, Lauren Bacall; actress Judy Garland and her husband, Sid Luft; and actor David Niven and his wife, Hjördis.
Bogart took Sinatra under his wing, where the musician enjoyed the group camaraderie. The pack spent a lot of time in California and migrated to Las Vegas on occasion for parties and nights out.
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 already married at the time. Bogart soon divorced his wife, then married Bacall in 1945.
Bacall became the "Den Mother" of her husband's group. As the story goes, after Bacall came upon the lot after they returned from a long night of drinking, she reportedly said, "You look like a godd*mn 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.
Bogart passed in 1957, and the original Rat Pack fell by the wayside. Sinatra missed the friendships he had established and sought to recreate the experience with another group. He first reached out to the witty and charming Dean Martin, his co-star in 1958's Some Came Running. Martin had recently split up from his comedy partner, Jerry Lewis.
Sinatra soon brought Sammy Davis Jr. into the fold, a dancer that he had met years before. British actor Peter Lawford and comedian Joey Bishop soon followed, rounding out the original five.
The media described Sinatra, Martin, Davis Jr., Lawford, and Bishop as the "Rat Pack" - however, the members did not adopt the name. When the group first formed, they considered being called "The Clan," though Sinatra reportedly hated the name because of its connotation. Some also referred to the members 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, the musician supposedly told him that it was a "stupid phrase."