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Here's What You Need To Know About The Rat Pack, The Original Kings Of Cool

Updated September 23, 2021 110.1k views10 items

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 Women Around The Group Became Known As The 'Rat Pack Mascots'

     

     

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    The Rat Pack had beautiful women surrounding them, including famous actresses like Angie Dickinson and Shirley MacLaine. Many of the so-called Rat Pack Mascots included women that Sinatra became romantically involved with, such as his fiances, Lauren Bacall and Juliet Prowse. They considered the mascots "one of the boys" as much as anything else. 

    This isn't to say there weren't plenty of other women around the group. Sinatra was supposedly known for having ladies brought into his room late at night for "private massages."

  • Photo: Dovima-2010 / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Sinatra Gave The Other Members Special Names That He Had Monogrammed On Bathrobes

    Members of the Rat Pack enjoyed a lot of time together at the Sands health club - often after a night of drinking, naturally. Sinatra had bathrobes made for the occasion. On the robes were the members' nicknames, which Sinatra assigned.

    Davis Jr. was "Smokey the Bear;" Martin was "Dino;" and newcomer Paul Anka was "The Kid." Sinatra's robe got embroidered with the title "The Pope."

  • Photo: Dovima-2010 / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Sammy Davis Jr. Wasn't Allowed To Perform At JFK's Inaugural

    In 1960, Davis Jr. married a Swedish actress named May Britt. At the time, interracial marriage was illegal in most of the United States; the couple received hate mail and threats. Sinatra asked the pair to postpone their wedding so it wouldn't threaten John F. Kennedy's election campaign that same year. JFK had close ties to Sinatra and the Rat Pack, but Davis Jr. and Britt went through with their nuptials.

    What Davis Jr. never forgot, however, was his exclusion from the gala Sinatra organized for JFK in 1961. Peter Lawford had married into the Kennedy family - he wed Patricia Kennedy, JFK's sister, in 1954. Sinatra's connections to the Kennedy family came through his associations with Sam Giancana and the thugs of Chicago. Davis Jr. had worked for the Kennedy campaign as well; however, to prevent any political backlash after Kennedy's electoral victory, Davis Jr. was left out of the celebratory event.

    Davis Jr. wasn't the only Rat Pack member who wasn't present - Martin chose not to attend. It's unclear if this was on behalf of Davis Jr. or because Martin felt skeptical about the new president

  • When One Of The Members Performed In Vegas, The Others Would Show Up, Too

     

     

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    Rat Pack members performed in Las Vegas, often at the Copa Room at the Sands Hotel. The marquee may have featured Martin's name, but there were usually taglines to keep audiences guessing, such as "maybe Frank - maybe Sammy and Peter and Joey?" The group regularly appeared at each other's shows, telling jokes at one another's expense - Davis Jr. was a common target - and rounded out the night by drinking into the early morning.

    The city of Las Vegas and the Sands reaped the financial benefits of having the Rat Pack and their fellow movie star friends hanging out in the area.