LOS ANGELES (AP) — For George Jacobs, whose business card proclaimed him “The Last of the Rat Pack,” there were some very good years.
From 1953 to 1968, he was Frank Sinatra’s valet, traveling companion and pal, a gentleman’s gentleman who poured the Jack Daniels at cocktail time and stayed all night to play poker.
In Palm Springs and Bel-Air, he cooked the pasta, pressed the suits, found the girls. Sinatra cried on his shoulder about his lost love, Ava Gardner. Marilyn Monroe cried on his shoulder about Sinatra.
The product of a rough-and-tumble background, Jacobs got up close and personal with global figures. He had a spirited talk about women with John F. Kennedy while giving the future president a massage. Sinatra’s mobster friend Sam Giancana joked about trying to hire him away; Jacobs later observed that Giancana, the late Mafia boss accused by conspiracy theorists in the JFK assassination, “had the most perfectly manicured hands and nails I had ever seen.”
“It was an amazing trip, and even more amazing that a poor black kid from Louisiana like me got to take it,” he wrote in “Mr. S: My Life With Frank Sinatra,” a tell-all 2003 memoir he co-wrote with William Stadiem.
Jacobs, 86, died in his sleep Saturday at a Palm Springs nursing home, said his son, artist Snake Jagger.
Born in New Orleans on April 29, 1927, Jacobs spent days with his mother, a cook for a wealthy family in the city’s Garden District, and nights with his father, the owner of a honky-tonk called the Joy Tavern. His Creole grandmother had 103 other grandchildren. A grandfather and a great-grandfather on each side of his family was Jewish.
In 1945, the trim, handsome Jacobs joined the Navy, trained as a ship’s cook and became an aide to an admiral. While on an aircraft carrier off Korea, he was told that his father had been fatally shot in a robbery.
After the service, Jacobs moved to Los Angeles and took a series of odd jobs — gardener, process server, an extra in “cheesy MGM ‘Tarzan’ knockoffs” — and wound up working Hollywood parties for a caterer. In 1950, he caught the eye of superagent Irving “Swifty” Lazar who hired him as a Man Friday.
When Sinatra hired Jacobs three years later, the legendary singer and his new valet hit it off.
A prankster, Sinatra sent Jacobs to Tijuana, Mexico, to load up on cherry bombs that he’d explode in toilet bowls. “The Hoboken Bomber strikes again!” Sinatra would cackle.
On a trip to Israel, Sinatra and songwriter Jimmy van Heusen urged Jacobs to connect with his Jewish roots and get a “quickie Bar Mitzvah.”
They followed up the ceremony with a trip to a brothel and an all-night drunk on kosher wine, Jacobs wrote. The next day, Sinatra and his entourage vanished by the time Jacobs got out of bed, leaving him without cash and no one to call for help.
“My life had come to revolve so entirely around Frank Sinatra that I had absolutely no one else,” he wrote.