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Frank Sinatra’s Daughter Missed His Death Because She Was Watching the ‘Seinfeld’ Finale

Frank and Nancy singing, 1967 (Photo Credit: Martin Mills/Getty Images)
Frank and Nancy singing, 1967 (Photo Credit: Martin Mills/Getty Images)

The end of Seinfeld also marked the end of “Ol’ Blue Eyes” crooner Frank Sinatra. At the same time that the series finale aired, Frank Sinatra had suffered a heart attack. Unfortunately, his eldest daughter, Nancy, had tuned in to the series finale and missed her father’s death.

The finale of Seinfeld

Promo shot for Seinfeld, Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer sit on the trunk of a taxi
The cast of Seinfeld, including characters Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer. (Photo Credit: NBC / HarperSeven / MovieStillsDB)

On May 14, 1998, a record-breaking 76 million American viewers gathered around their televisions to watch the series finale of the nine-season NBC sitcomSeinfeld. After years of following Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer getting into their crazy situations, fans were preparing themselves as the “show about nothing” was finally coming to an end. Leading up to the finale, NBC was broadcasting reruns of the show’s previous seasons in anticipation of the series finale.

Although the majority of people tuned in just in time to watch the finale, many got sucked in by the ridiculous and funny antics of the Seinfeld gang during the reruns broadcasting, despite having already seen those episodes. One person who found herself in this situation was Nancy Sinatra, Frank Sinatra’s eldest daughter.

Sinatra has a heart attack

Hedashot of Frank Sinatra singing with mic in hand
Frank Sinatra performs at The Universal Amphitheatre on July 6, 1980 in Universal City, Los Angeles, California. (Photo Credit: Joan Adlen / Getty Images)

On the same night that the Seinfeld series finale aired, crooner Frank Sinatra suffered a heart attack. He was at home in Los Angeles, and the 9-1-1 call for help was made approximately halfway through the episode. An ambulance was rushed to his home, reaching Sinatra in a matter of minutes. The roads were pretty much clear, likely because everyone was inside watching diligently as the four New Yorkers’ stories were coming to an end.

Sinatra was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Hospital in Los Angeles, where his fourth wife, Barbara, and manager and friend, Tony Oppedisano, had rushed to his bedside. Oppedisano said that Sinatra was not scared or panicked in the hospital bed. He said Sinatra had resigned himself to having reached his end. His final words were “I’m losing,” and he died in the hospital that night. He was 82 years old.

Nancy was five blocks away

Frank and Nancy hugging in the studio
Frank Sinatra with his daughter Nancy Sinatra at their first joint recording session. (Photo Credit: Keystone Features/Getty Images)

Sinatra’s eldest daughter, Nancy, had made plans to visit her father that evening. The two lived a mere five blocks from one another, so her visit would have likely been a casual, regular event. However, Nancy never made it to her father’s house. She was among the 76 million American viewers waiting to see how the sitcom series would end. This would come to be her greatest mistake.

Nancy did not know of her father’s heart attack and only received the call that anything had happened after her father had passed. She did not get to see her father on his last living day and did not get to say goodbye, all because she was tuned into NBC.

Not Sinatra’s first heart attack

Frank and Barbara Sinatra pose for a photo
Frank Sinatra and Barbara Sinatra pose for a portrait in 1997 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo Credit: Harry Langdon / Getty Images)

This was not Sinatra’s first heart attack. He had suffered a heart attack a year prior, in 1997, and had effectively removed himself from the public eye following that event. The public speculated that Sinatra was in declining health, with rumors of him suffering from bladder cancer and heart problems. His wife, Barbara, was vehement that Sinatra was in good health just a month before he suffered his second and fatal heart attack.

Sinatra not only suffered physical ailments, but he also dealt with depression and other mental health problems for years. He was prescribed Elavil, an anti-depressant that is known to cause severe side effects. Allegedly, Sinatra would overuse this medication and it caused many people to believe he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. He was supposedly on these anti-depressants for 10-15 years. The intended length of time is usually 12-13 months. Some believe this contributed to his declining health in his later years.

Nancy had a difficult time forgiving herself

Frank and Nancy Sinatra hugging
Frank Sinatra and his daughter singer Nancy Sinatra embrace on stage during ‘Frank Sinatra: A man and his music part II’, circa 1966. (Photo Credit: Archive Photos / Getty Images)

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As you can imagine, missing her father’s death has weighed heavily on Nancy’s shoulders. She’s called it her “greatest sadness” and has come to regret being sucked in by those sitcom reruns. She said, “Now, I know that in order to live a happy life you’re supposed to let go of your anger and move on, but I was five minutes down the road watching TV while my dad was dying. That’s something I will never forget, let alone forgive.” She did seemingly come to terms with it later, saying that the great moments they had together outweighed one final goodbye.

Sinatra’s widow, Barbara, passed away in 2017.

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!