UHEF & Uni News


May, 2016

Did Frank Sinatra & Sammy Davis headline a Uni grad night? YES!

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[Posted May 2, 2016] One of the great Los Angeles “urban legends” is that Frank Sinatra and friends once entertained a Uni class on grad night. Well, it really did happen!

Jim Wartman ‘58 wrote in about our March 23 story on the passing of Frank Sinatra, Jr. ‘61. He was preceded at Uni by his sister Nancy, and Jim notes:

I am James (Jim) Wartman and am a Vagabond, the class that graduated in June 1958.

Nancy [Sinatra] is in our class and did not graduate in 1959. How can we forget the great grad night at the Miramar Hotel, where her father, Frank, the Nelson Riddle band, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dick Stabile all entertained us.

It was an all-night party, and my date and I sat on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and watched the sun come up.

The Hotel Miramar in the 1950s

The Hotel Miramar in the 1950s

Nancy, Gidget [Kathy Kohner, whose father wrote the Gidget books about her] and Jimmy Mitchum, and Jan Berry, and Vincent Price Jr. were all Warriors and Vagabonds together. Frankie Jr came to Uni Hi after we graduated in the summer of 1958.

Our class was so big (about 600) that we had our graduation ceremony at UCLA’s Royce Hall. Our class may, or may not have our 60th reunion in 2018. I have heard nothing about that. I went to the 50th Reunion at the Beverly Hills Country Club.

I will always be a Uni Hi Warrior!!!!

uhef web pix-sinatra boots cover 600x600

What a grad night that must have been! Thanks for the memories, Jim, and verifying one of L.A.’s great urban legends. Thanks, too, to fellow Vagabond Anita Shapiro, who also wrote in about the event and to confirm Nancy Sinatra’s graduation year.


3 thoughts on “Did Frank Sinatra & Sammy Davis headline a Uni grad night? YES!

  1. Ronald Chase

    I have my doubts about this. As I recall the event, Frank Sinatra was scheduled to appear, but as it happened he did not. However, I remember Sammy Davis Jr. and the Nelson Riddle Orchestra being there, as Jim Hartman writes. I may be wrong about Sinatra. Maybe other classmates could weigh in on the issue. If it’s a “great urban legend”, let’s get it right.

    Regards to all,
    Ron Chase
    Class of 1958


  2. allen bishop

    There is no question that Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and the Nelson Riddle Orchestra were at the 1958 Grad Night.
    No one could forget that evening and SDJr take on Elvis.

    Best to all,

    Allen Bishop


  3. Eugene "U.E." Gierson

    My recollection of the Vagabonds grad night in 1958 was that Frank was there, and that he performed. I believe that Sammy was also there, performing. I was there.


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