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Paul Keyes on Meeting Frank Sinatra

In the spring of 1941, after a concert in Portland, Frank and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra were enjoying dinner when a seventeen-year-old boy named Paul Keyes approached Dorsey’s table with an autograph book in his hand. The boy was unaware that he was violating the privacy of a section of the restaurant that Dorsey had ordered closed except for the members of the band, so the “Sentimental Gentleman of Swing” gave the order to physically expel him from the premises.

As Keyes recalls, “A few minutes after Dorsey kicked me out, I saw Frank Sinatra coming out of the private room and I followed him to get his autograph. He was very nice. ‘What’s your name, kid?’ he asked me, as he signed me. the book. I mentioned that I wanted to get autographs from the rest of the orchestra but Mr. Dorsey had thrown me out of the place. Frank took me back and friendly introduced me to Ziggy Elman, Jo Stafford, Buddy Rich and everyone else. They all signed me Then he took me to Tommy and said, “This is my friend Paul, I want you to write something nice for him in his book. He’s a good guy.
Mr. Dorsey recognized me, but without batting an eyelid he did as Frank asked and signed the book for me. Then Frank invited me to sit down and have something to eat with the band.”

Years later, Paul Keyes became a producer of music and comedy shows on television (he worked, among others, for Dean Martin, Don Rickles and Frank himself), won three Emmy Awards and was a presidential speechwriter.

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