Jerry Weintraub

Jerry Weintraub Story

Jerry Weintraub was a legendary producer, manager, promoter and talent agent, who is especially known for having developed and presented Sinatra: The Main Event at Madison Square Garden.

Dedicating this page as a tribute to Mr. Weintraub, to share his story (below) regarding how Frank Sinatra influenced his career. 

Special thanks to MICHAEL WEINTRAUB, son of JERRY WEINTRAUB, for kindly sharing photos as well as the story (excerpt) below - from an article that was developed by Rich Cohen/Vanity Fair - March 1, 2008.  

Photos below of Jerry Weintraub and Michael Weintraub, Frank Sinatra with Michael Weintraub (signed to Michael's grandparents and taken on the set of the TV Special John Denver and Friends in 1976), and third photo of Jerry with Frank Sinatra.

The phone rings. The voice is familiar. Weird familiar. A voice you hear on the radio as the train rattles along Jerome Avenue.

Jerry, this is Frank Sinatra.

Come on, who is it really?

Frank Sinatra.

Whatever you say, Mr. Sinatra.

Please call me Francis.

O.K., Francis.

I want to meet.

Great. When?

Look, kid, when I say I want to meet, that means now. Go to the Santa Monica airport. My plane is waiting.

Yes, Francis.

So the plane takes off, and there is the coast beneath him, and, in a sense, life is just a series of views from windows, first that coast from the window of the Capital Airlines prop, now this coast from the window of Frank Sinatra's jet.

The plane lands in Palm Springs. A car takes Jerry to the house.

"O.K.," says Sinatra, "I've seen what you've done with Elvis. I'm thinking of coming out of retirement myself. Do you think I can play the same rooms?"

I don't see why not.

*Where would you start me?/

Jerry looks at the ceiling as if there were logic in his figuring. This is what management is selling: a sense of certainty.

Carnegie Hall.*

Sinatra nods.

Yeah, that sounds interesting. O.K., kid, let's go with this.

Mr. Sinatra?

Francis, please. My name is Francis Albert Sinatra.

O.K., Francis. I heard you don't show up all the time. I heard sometimes you make a date and never show.

"He didn't know me," said Jerry. "And he looked at me and he said, 'Are you crazy, talking to me like that? What's wrong with you?'

"I said, 'Look, no disrespect, Francis, but that's what I heard. And my career is just getting started. And I'm doing great. I'm a millionaire already. And I don't want to get into something I can't handle.'

"And he pointed his finger at me, and I'll never forget, he said, 'Here's what we're going to do. You and I, the two of us here, we're going to shake hands. And I'm never going to disappoint you. And you know what, kid? You're never going to disappoint me, are you?' "

With that, Jerry had been admitted into the small circle of men who surrounded Sinatra, a fraternity of knock-around guys with names like Deano and Jilly. It was better than any credential. It was Ol' Blue Eyes telling the guy at the desk, "Take care of him-he's one of mine."

By the early 70s, Jerry was a big name in the music business, as a manager and a concert promoter. He was working with Elvis and Sinatra-also Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Herb Alpert, the Moody Blues, the Carpenters, Gordon Lightfoot, John Denver. Jerry went after artists, but, just as often, they came after him, impressed by his roster, but also by his Bronx-bred calm: in a world of hysterical multitudes, Jerry is in control, or seems to be, a man who keeps his head, as it says in the poem, "as all about him others are losing theirs."

Second Sinatra

How does the day begin?

A ringing phone.

A house in Malibu. A camera tracking over sea grass and ribbons of asphalt, through a window to the table where the phone is ringing.

A hand reaches for it.


Jerry, it's Francis.

Yes, Francis.

I'm depressed.

Where are you, Francis?


This was 1974. Sinatra was living in a penthouse at Caesars, with his own pool on the roof. He was 59. He called at 10 in the morning, which, according to Jerry, meant he had been up all night drinking.

What's wrong?

I don't want to go down to that club anymore. I don't want to do it anymore, the same thing every night, "Come Fly with Me," "Chicago." I don't care.

Jerry got on a plane to Vegas, went to the hotel, sat on the roof. Because he hates to see his friend like this. "You know," Jerry told Frank, "I got a great idea for you, but I need to put it together." (Of course, there was no idea.)

Sinatra said, "Tell me, please, what's your idea?"

"So I just start talking ... "

Francis, we're going to do Madison Square Garden.

Yeah, so, we've done that before.

Francis, we're going to do it live!

Yeah, so, we're always live.

Yeah, sure, but never live on TV all around the world.

Then he's off:

Yes, sir, Francis, live on TV, and I tell you what, you are the heavyweight-champion singer of the world, nobody close, so let's do it in a ring and make it like a heavyweight fight and invite all the people who go to heavyweight fights because they're your fans and let's get Cosell to be the announcer. I can hear it now.

What can you hear?

Ladies and gentlemen, live from Madison Square Garden, Jerry Weintraub presents Sinatra, the Main Event.

(The Main Event was a huge success. It became one of the great concert films, one of the great live albums too.)

"And that's where it starts," Jerry told me, "me and Frank on the roof at Caesars."

They flew to New York. Jerry rehearsed with the TV crew. There would be six commercial breaks. Frank needed to pick his songs and his breaks but did not show up for rehearsal. Jerry called the Waldorf. Frank's secretary said Frank was indisposed. The afternoon of the show, Frank sent a note to Jerry. A list of the songs he would sing. "Stupid songs," Jerry told me, "like 'Crocodile Rock.' " Jerry rushed over to the Waldorf. Frank's secretary was sitting in a chair, in a robe, reading the newspaper and smoking a cigarette.

Jerry looked at her, then waved the piece of paper at Frank.

What's this?

What's what?

These songs?

Oh, don't worry about that. I just wanted to see you.

They talked, then Jerry said, "We need you at the Garden for rehearsal."

You told me no rehearsal, Jerry. Remember? Live.

I know, but still.

I'll be there in time for the show. That's when you need me.

Twenty minutes before curtain, Sinatra rolled in with a police escort. Jerry's wife, Jane, was in the car. Jerry opened the door. Sinatra smiled: How ya doin', kid?

Not great.

We'll fix that in a minute. In the meantime, tell Jane to get in the car when we start "My Way." I want to go to Patsy's and pick up pizzas for the flight back to Vegas.

On the way to the dressing room, Jerry said, "Frank, you've got a problem."

What's my problem?

We're going to commercial six times and you don't know when to break.

You got a kid around here in a red jacket? Give him a sign that says, When I see him, I'll start "My Way."

But what are you going to do when I go away for commercials?

I'm going to sing. And when you come back, I'll still be singing. That's live, Jerry.

If you rent The Main Event, you see Sinatra come out of the tunnel with Jerry at his side-like Muhammad Ali and Angelo Dundee off to face Joe Frazier. As Sinatra reaches the ropes, he turns to Jerry. "He was shorter than I was," says Jerry, "and he looked up and said, 'How you feel, kid? O.K.?' I said, 'No, not O.K.' 'What's the matter, kid?' I said, 'Frank, Francis, this is live around the world. It could be the end of my career.' And he pinched my cheek and said, 'Listen, kid, you got me into this and I'm going to get you out.'"

 EXCERPT FROM VANITY FAIR - Jerry Weintraub Presents! by Rich Cohen