The story behind Frank Sinatra’s $10,000 yarmulke

Jan 09, 2019 412

Last month, when Sotheby’s held a huge auction of items belonging to Frank Sinatra and his widow, Barbara, the item that made the most headlines was one of the smallest: a hand-knit yarmulke. Frank had owned it, and someone — we don’t know who — bought it for nearly $10,000. But why did Sinatra have a kippah? Where did he get it? And when?

The story starts on a memorable night nearly 40 years ago, when many members of the Rat Pack were among the unlikely guests of honor at a fundraising dinner for a Jewish day school on the Jersey Shore. The kippah was presented to Sinatra on an evening in May or June of 1981, at the old Teplitzky’s Hotel in Atlantic City. The occasion was the annual awards dinner held by the Hebrew Academy of Atlantic County, then in Margate. And the man presenting the kippah to a tuxedo-clad Ol’ Blue Eyes was Samuel “Sonny” Schwartz, a longtime journalist, columnist, radio host, and man-about-town in the Atlantic City area.

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