Rat Pack Reflected Palm Spring’s Devil May Care Attitude

Rat Pack makes Palm Springs their home

In the late 50’s and early 60’s, a group of entertainers and the spots they hung out in came to symbolize the American style of mixing power and pleasure. A group gathered around Frank Sinatra, did movies together in Hollywood, performed on stage with one another in Las Vegas, and relaxed and partied in Palm Springs. They started out staying at the Riviera Resort that they helped christen with gigs in the Chi Chi Room, but many of them such as Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Peter Lawford emulated their leader, Sinatra, and bought homes of their own in Palm Springs.

Their camaraderie helped to give them enormous power in the entertainment industry and helped to make Palm Springs a power center of world class renown. Unlike other tony enclaves of the era, Palm Springs was not the least bit restrictive and proved to be open to all. The same could be said of the Rat Pack. They included a members from a wide array of backgrounds. This was at a time when even the two Italians in the group would have had a hard time qualifying for membership at certain country clubs. Not so on the links at Palm Springs.

The men in the Rat Pack had swagger and were often seen as vulgar, but it was seen as a sign of their confidence and disdain of convention. They were not about to be assigned to any second class status imposed by the old guard of American culture. They fashioned their own brand of hip and obviously had a good time doing it.

The openness of the desert suited their style. In Palm Springs, it was possible to party at poolside all through the night and sleep through the heat of the day. Since they had so many friends in town, there were always people to see and places to go.

Bogie’s Wife Gives the Name

In 49, Sinatra moved to a home in Holmby Hills near the house where Humphrey Bogart. The two men became drinking buddies along with several other future members of the Rat Pack. When Bogart’s wife, Lauren Bacall, saw the boisterous crew storming through a Las Vegas casino, she stated, “You look like a @#$% rat pack.” Sinatra seems to have taken the slur as an endearment.

Sinatra enjoyed having a circle of buddies around. The arrangement also had enormous commercial success. Their popularity in Las Vegas was unparalleled. They generated enormous amounts of press coverage just by hanging out at pools in Palm Springs and posing for photos with bikini clad babes.

At first, the press referred to them as the Clan. Sinatra did not like it and snidely remarked, “Just because we get together once a week wearing sheets over our heads is no reason to call us that.” To which, Sammy Davis Jr. added, “Would I belong to an organization called the clan?” This sort of humor was new to America. The Rat Pack managed to demonstrate how ethnic and racial differences could form a basis and not a barrier to friendship.

 

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