Las Vegas icon Frank Sinatra had an FBI file a foot thick. Why did agents follow the singer for more than 40 years? And why were the agents also interested in Marilyn Monroe’s lovers? The FBI has created an online vault packed with millions of pages of once confidential information, including reports on everything from Las Vegas casino moguls and gangsters to UFO shows and animal mutilations. Aired on May 23, 2011, on KLAS TV in Las Vegas.
To Las Vegas casinos, Frank Sinatra was a God, a movie magnet for high rollers. To the FBI, Ol’ Blue Eyes was a wannabe mobster.
FBI agents compiled more than 1,200 pages in their Sinatra dossier. From his 1940s friendship with supreme mafioso Lucky Luciano to his 1960s secret partnership with Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana, a hidden co-owner of Sinatra’s Cal Neva Lodge at Lake Tahoe. Included in the file are news clippings about Sinatra’s drunken Las Vegas rampages.
The FBI has created an online vault packed with millions of pages of once confidential information, including reports on everything from Las Vegas casino moguls and gangsters to UFO shows and animal mutilations.
Ostensibly, this was done in the interest of public information but it was also done to help the FBI cut itself some slack in responding the huge numbers of public records requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act. Most of the documents inside the vault have been made public to one degree or another, but they’ve never before been so accessible. A word of warning though, once you get inside that vault and start reading, it can be hard to get yourself out.
A 1963 memo shows the FBI planned to pressure members of the Rat Pack to rat out their chairman. It never happened though. And in 1964, heat from the FBI prompted Sinatra to announced he was selling his interest in Cal Neva. When FBI agents formally interviewed Sinatra, he admitted his friendships with wise guys but denied any criminal involvement. FBI documents first released in 1998 suggest Sinatra was so thankful for the bureau’s help in the kidnapping of Frank Sinatra Jr. that he offered to be an informant regarding the entertainment world, but never made good on that offer.
The FBI file of movie goddess Marilyn Monroe intersects with Sinatra’s at several points. While Monroe was in Las Vegas in the company of Rat Packers and then Senator John Kennedy, agents took notes. Monroe’s file is remarkably explicit. Memos allege there were sex parties involving Monroe, John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and others. She had an ongoing affair with Robert Kennedy, the FBI believed, and a lesbian affair at the same time. The FBI said Monroe visited Cal Neva and spent time with Sinatra and Sam Giancana. A recent claim by Monroe’s hairdresser says she was flown to Tahoe, spent the night with Giancana, then died the following night in Los Angeles of a presumed overdose, though Monroe confidents say she was murdered to protect the Kennedys.
MORE FBI FILES: See information on Frank Sinatra
A Hollywood movie about the life of industrialist Las Vegas casino kingpin Howard Hughes intimated that Hughes relied on booze and sexual favors to coax defense officials into buying his airplanes. The huge FBI file on Hughes seems to confirm the legend. FBI memos show agents watched as Hughes entertained customers with liquor and women to secure contracts.
Before the Freedom of Information Act existed, the FBI told the public it had no interest in UFO reports. After the act became law, the bureau reluctantly coughed up more than 2,000 pages of UFO files, including a sensational report in March 1950, from Special Agent Guy Hottel to J. Edgar Hoover, stating that three flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico along with three tiny bodies. The memo first surfaced years ago but generated a new burst of controversy this year. It then fizzled when UFO researchers pointed out the FBI source was a notorious conman.
MORE FBI FILES: See information on UFOs
Another FBI memo is not so easily dismissed. It’s a July 1947 teletype to J. Edgar Hoover about a “flying disk that had been recovered near Roswell, New Mexico.” Reports that the object was a weather balloon were not borne out, the memo states. The object was flown by special plane to Ohio, the agent reported.
Former Las Vegas filmmaker Ted Oliphant investigated animal mutilations, a mystery more perplexing than UFOs.
“We’re talking about tens, literally tens of thousands of cases,” Oliphant said.
As an Alabama lawman, Oliphant saw dozens of reports of cattle carved with surgical precision in the middle of the night. FBI files show the bureau took such reports seriously for a period in the late ‘70s. FBI files show Attorney General Griffin Bell promised to get to the bottom of it, but he didn’t. Thirty years later, the mutilations continue and no one has ever been caught or punished.
MORE FBI FILES: See information on cattle mutilations
A story could be written about Las Vegas FBI files every day for 10 years and never scratch the surface. Lefty Rosenthal, Bugsy Siegel, Tony Spilotro, Elvis Presley, there’s a lot of fascinating information in there, including some stuff about boxer Sonny Liston and movie star Rita Hayworth here in Las Vegas.