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The Rise and Fall of The Rat Pack

The year was 1960, and everyone was loving the music laid out by Elvis Presley and the rising The Beatles. They were only one of the many artists that were taking over the music industry. On the other hand, you have Frank Sinatra who was not doing so well with his music career, so he decided to do something new that would match the other musicians.

Later on, Frank scouted other members to add to the group. These members included Peter Lawford, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Joey Bishop, who put on a mega-act that would put Las Vegas on the map. Peter Lawford was the key member because he was married to Patricia Kennedy, sister of John F. Kennedy. During JFK’s presidential run, he made sure to use The Rat Pack to solidify his position and made the public adore him more. It even helped JFK fund his presidential campaign.

JFK’s Ties with the Mob

While the group was gaining huge success, they also encountered a few speed bumps along the way. Joe Kennedy, JFK’s father, promised the mob organizations in Las Vegas that JFK would protect them if they agreed to pay $1 million in contribution. The mob agreed and left a suitcase containing $1 million in Carl Cohen’s suite, a mobster and President of the Sands. The suitcase would be picked up later on by John and drop it off to Joe. Peter Lawford knew that JFK was the bag man, and he brought in Sammy Davis Jr. to check the bag filled with the money.

Trouble within the Group and JFK

As soon as Sammy knew about the exchange between JFK and the mobsters, he started telling everybody. But while he was doing that, The Rat Pack publicly supported JFK’s campaign the year after the $1 million contributions from the mob to JFK. They even supported JFK during the Democratic National Convention and even headlined in his inauguration party.

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Trouble soon followed for the group. Frank Sinatra was singing, and Joey Bishop hosted, but Sammy Davis Jr. was barred because JFK feared that it would hurt his presidential position if people knew about Sammy’s engagement to the Swedish actress May Britt. Also, Dean Martin bailed out of the group, which caused even tension between him and Sinatra’s relationship.

Peter Lawford, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, and Frank Sinatra posing together as The Rat Pack

The Downfall of The Rat Pack

Joey Bishop was prevented from participating in the group after requesting to fill in for Sinatra during a gig. He also tried forcing Sinatra out of $50,000. After that, JFK prevented his son from visiting Sinatra’s home in Palm Springs. The building even had a heliport for the President to use because of Sinatra’s increasing involvement with the mob. After all the mess, Peter Lawford announced the bad news to the public, which led the group to fall out with Sinatra in 1963.

Even with The Rat Pack’s power-team, they had many internal issues that were only waiting to blow up and tear the group apart.

Riley Brown
Written By

Riley is a history, lifestyle, and entertainment writer living in San Diego. He received his bachelor's degree in Journalism and Multimedia from the University of Oregon. His work has been featured in many finance and lifestyle publications throughout the US. When he is not writing, Riley enjoys reading and hanging out at the beach with his dog.


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