WHY WOULD FRANK SINATRA DO A SHOW LIKE THIS?
First of all, in 1953 radio was still a very popular home entertainment medium. Though TV was fast gaining momentum, tens of millions of American households still tuned in every evening to such shows as "Jack Benny," "Burns & Allen," "The Great Gildersleeve," "The Bing Crosby Show," "Dragnet," and many others. Sinatra knew that keeping his name prominent in the public ear was crucial, especially for him to play dramatic roles (and not just a guy in a sailor suit singing in musicals.) He'd already finished the role in "From Here To Eternity" and was waiting for the public reaction to explode, which it did when he won the Academy Award for that picture later in 1954. But he was not abandoning his singing career, for at about the same time, November 10, 1953 to July 9, 1954, Sinatra also starred in a musical show on NBC called "To Be Perfectly Frank," a breezy, twice-weekly, 15-minute series in which he performed as both soloist and DJ for hits from other stars. So with a hit movie and three radio programs a week, he was definitely reestablishing his command in show business. He was forming a relationship with the new Capitol Records and with arranger Nelson Riddle, and he was in process of releasing two more dramatic movies, "Suddenly" and "The Man With The Golden Arm" which got him still another Oscar nomination. (Ironically, the co-star Ernest Borgnine who helped Frank win the "FHTE" Oscar stole his second away because Borgnine's role in his movie "Marty" edged out Sinatra's in "TMWTGA" for best actor.) All in all, "Rocky Fortune" turned out to be a shrewd move to help build Sinatra's momentum.
WHAT WAS THE SHOW ALL ABOUT?
Frank Sinatra portrayed Rocco Fortunato, also known as Rocky Fortune, a young man of several talents constantly in need of employment and who accepts odd jobs from the fictitious Gridley Employment Agency. often referred to simply as "the Agency." During the course of the series, he would work as a process server, museum tour guide, cabbie, bodyguard, chauffeur, truck driver, social director for a Catskills resort and a carny, in addition to various musical jobs. These assignments typically led Rocky into situations where he would track down criminals, often rescuing people (especially women) in need of help, and ultimately needing to find yet more work. Rocky made many wise remarks, using "hep" slang of the times, and seemed to attract trouble wherever he went.
Sinatra infused the role of Rocky with a witty, tongue-in-cheek quality that acknowledged Sinatra's own career. For example, in the episode "Football Fix", Rocky begins to sing "I've Got the World on a String" while walking down the street, a song Sinatra had performed prior to playing the role of Rocky. Aside from Sinatra, the only other recurring role on the series was that of Hamilton J. Finger, a not terribly smart but solid and dependable police sergeant voiced by Barney Phillips.
WHO CO-STARRED WITH SINATRA ON THESE 25 SHOWS?
Edward "Eddie" King was the show's narrator, who began each episode by stating, "NBC presents Frank Sinatra, starring as that footloose and fancy-free young gentleman, Rocky Fortune!" (though it was "footloose and frequently unemployed..." for the first two episodes).
NBC did not skimp on talent. Actors were:
Marvin Miller, Raymond Burr, Lou Merrill, Jack Kruschen, Herb Ellis, Lynn Allen, Barney Philips, Vivi Janis, Georgia Ellis, Parley Baer, Ted Von Eltz, Norma Varden, Roger De Koven, Staats Cotsworth, Elaine Rost, James Monks, William Zuckert, Arnold Moss, Jan Miner, Joseph Julian, Ed Begley, Ted Osborne, Leon Janney, Mandel Kramer, Bryna Raeburn, David Pfeffer, Ken Williams, William Griffis, Mason Adams, Jeanne Bates, Alice Backes, Jerry Hausner, Herb Vigran, Nestor Paiva, Maurice Hart, Joe Forte, Jack Carroll, Maya Gregory, Don Diamond, June Foray, Gloria Grant, Howard Culver, Lou Krugman, Bert Holland, Betty Lou Gerson, John Stevenson, George Pirrone, Eda Reiss Merin, and Edith Terry.
WHO CREATED THE SHOW?
Creator of the show George Lefferts was one of the primary scriptwriters, along with Ernest Kinoy. The two had previously collaborated on other radio programs such as X Minus One and Dimension X: in the episode "Rocket Racket", Fortune's job is apparently to fly a prototype spaceship. An eccentric oil millionaire tells of his fascination with science fiction and space travel, to which Rocky knowingly acknowledges, "Dimension X." Lefferts and Kinoy would go on to become award-winning writers and producers in the years that followed.