Barbara Walters Said That She Was in a "One-Sided Feud" With Frank Sinatra
The singer was a family friend until the journalist tried to report a story about his personal life.
If you imagined that Barbara Walters and Frank Sinatra once crossed paths, you'd likely assume that it's because she interviewed him. But that wasn't the case. Walters and Sinatra connected first as family friends, but, according to her, they became at odds in what she called "a one-sided feud." It all started when Walters leaned into the more gossip-y side of her job as a TV journalist and looked into a rumored relationship of the iconic singer's.
Read on to find out what exactly went down between Walters and Sinatra when she did some digging into his personal life and what they both had to say about the grudge.
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Walters met Sinatra before she was famous.
Walters' father, Lou Walters, founded the nightclub chain Latin Quarter, which had locations in New York, Miami, and Boston. Sinatra performed at the clubs, so Walters crossed paths with him. "I had known Sinatra off and on for years" she wrote in her 2008 book Audition: A Memoir.
According to Showbiz Cheat Sheet, around the time that Walters began working for Today in the early 1960s, she ran into Sinatra at a mutual friend's home, and he complimented her on her work and said he watched the news show regularly. The site reports that in her book, she wrote that her sister and parents had fond memories of Sinatra—who was 14 years older than Walters—from his Latin Quarter days.
Their relationship changed after she tried to report a story.
The relationship between the friendly acquaintances took a turn for the worse when Walters was asked to look into Sinatra's personal life. According to The Baltimore Sun, Walters said, "For the next 30 years, Sinatra took a hate to me," because she called him to ask if it was true that he was engaged to socialite and future ambassador Pamela Hayward while she was working at Today.
"I wasn't a gossip columnist, but I thought if I could tell the network what the story really was, both Sinatra and the network would appreciate it," she wrote (via Showbiz Cheat Sheet). She left a message with his butler, but, as it turned out, the singer didn't appreciate it. And the rumor about Hayward wasn't true in the first place.
She called him a "vehement and vocal enemy."
In Audition, Walters wrote, "As I was becoming more respected as a journalist, I was also, to my great sadness, becoming vilified by a man whom I loved as a performer and whom I thought of as a friend of the family. Frank Sinatra, no less, became a vehement and vocal enemy. For most of the rest of his life he regularly complained about me publicly and ostracized me privately, for the craziest reason."
She attempted to apologize to the singer and actor, but he wouldn't accept it. Walters wrote a letter to Sinatra, but he "tore it up unopened," reports The Baltimore Sun.
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The beef finally ended.
The "one-sided, ongoing feud" continued for years, and Walters said she was even disinvited from an event because Sinatra was going to be there. "I was hardly the only reporter to feel his wrath, but it hurt more because we had for so long considered him a friend of the family," Walters wrote.
Years later, Walters considered the feud to be over when they were seated at the same table at a charity event and Sinatra gave her a nod and said hello.
"I'm sure by then he'd long ago forgotten why I had made him so angry 30 years before. Our one-way feud was finally over," she wrote.