Watch guests interact with the new Frank Sinatra Photo Gallery at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, and you understand the fire marshal's concern. Moving quickly past the pictures that line the corridor off the resort's iconic lobby may be a challenge.
"Look, Jill, we were just there," one guest says to a phone-absorbed young companion walking in front of her. She's stopped to point at a picture on the wall. "Frank Sinatra is right there, in the lobby, by those columns, where we just came from. Come, look."
Installed this week, the gallery consists of 34 pictures of the historic hotel's most famous guest, some on public display for the first time and many set in and around the Fontainebleau, where Sinatra vacationed, performed and shot several films. The display is part of a commemoration of the singer's 100th birthday on Dec. 12, which will be celebrated at the hotel during the preceding 100-day period, which begins Thursday.
Beautifully arranged on a series of dark, wood panels in the sunlit marble passageway that descends gently from the valet station to the lobby, the prominent display of these pictures in such a well-traveled space is symbolic of the carefully curated sense of place that is a hallmark of the resort.
The pictures are scheduled to be up through February. Talk of making the gallery a permanent feature in the corridor was discouraged by fire-safety officials, according to a hotel representative.
Which makes sense: For fans of the singer, the style and the era, the pictures are irresistible.
Here is a fedora-ed Frank and a bikinied Jill St. John shooting "Tony Rome" at the hotel bar Coconut Willie's (now known as La Côte), and there he is with a toweled Raquel Welch on the set of "Lady in Cement." Down the way, it's Frank and Elvis, just out of the Army, filming a welcome-home TV special in the Fontainebleau's Grand Ballroom (now called the Sparkle Ballroom).
When Sinatra filmed TV shows and movies in the hotel, he would shoot during the day and perform at night in the Fontainebleau's La Ronde Supper Club, where he is shown onstage with Rat Packers Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin, the same stage in what is now Liv nightclub that held the Miami Heat after their first LeBron-era NBA title.
"Frank Sinatra represents a very special time in Fontainebleau's history," says Philip Goldfarb, the resort's president and COO. The 100-day celebration, he says, will offer a "unique opportunity to experience his music, his passions and his style in a completely modern way."
This includes unique in-room amenities, Sinatra-inspired cocktails and meals in the resort's signature restaurants, and a two-night "Live Like Frank" package for $1,915. If you are feeling more Hoboken than Vegas, at 6:30 p.m. every night through Dec. 12 the hotel's Bleau Bar will offer sample shots of Jack Daniel's Sinatra Select whiskey, on the house, to toast Ol' Blue Eyes.
Along with images from the archives of Capitol Records and Warner Bros. Records, the Frank Sinatra Photo Gallery includes pictures from renowned photographer Terry O'Neill and the Sinatra family archive, via his granddaughters, A.J. Lambert and Amanda Erlinger. Among them is a shot from the late 1930s of the young singer shown in the mirror of a medicine cabinet — a Sinatra selfie.
"I often wonder if he knew what was in store," Erlinger says in a statement accompanying the picture. "These images are the beginning, and I was lucky enough to hold them in my hands, and now we are sharing them."
A couple of the pictures come from the estate of Ben and Bernice Novack, the original owners of the Fontainebleau, and one of the most poignant scenes shows the stylish couple having drinks with a beaming Sinatra in the Poodle Lounge. The picture is among those that were purchased by the hotel from the estate, still entangled in legal issues related to the 2009 murders of Bernice and her son, Ben Novack Jr.