Manly Graciousness

A recent article on by Bob Green told the tales of three men who showed great graciousness to those whom less magnanimous men would have felt justified in chewing out. The article details how a four star general and a basketball star were mistaken for a waiter and a skycap, respectively, and chose to act with dignity and not embarrass the offending party. But my favorite anecdote is about old Blue Eyes. From the CNN article:

One of the most indelible stories about a person going out of his way to avoid humiliating another person was told in Gay Talese’s 1966 Esquire article “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” widely considered to be perhaps the finest magazine profile ever written.

In the article, Talese described a party at the home of Sinatra’s former wife, at which Sinatra, who maintained cordial relations with her, was acting as host. A young woman at the party, according to Talese, “while leaning against a table, accidentally with her elbow knocked over one of a pair of alabaster birds to the floor, smashing it to pieces.”

Talese wrote that Sinatra’s daughter Nancy, also a guest at the party, started to say: “Oh, that was one of my mother’s favorite…”

Talese continued:

“[B]ut before she could complete the sentence, Sinatra glared at her, cutting her off, and while 40 other guests in the room all stared in silence, Sinatra walked over, quickly with his finger flicked the other alabaster bird off the table, smashing it to pieces, and then put an arm gently around [the young woman] and said, in a way that put her completely at ease, ‘That’s OK, kid.’ “

Read the whole article to find out how General Peter Chiarelli and basketball star Karl Malone handled their slights.


Hat tip to Kelly S. for the link.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

International Bachelor March 16, 2011 at 6:49 pm

How pretty were these women? I bet if the usher was cute, she woulda got a pass too.

Miles R. March 16, 2011 at 6:56 pm

So Frank was willing to break one of his ex-wife’s favorite possessions in order to spare a guest embarrassment. This somehow does not seem to me an unambiguous act of graciousness.

Melissa March 16, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Obviously you two epitomize the ‘pearls before swine’ adage..

Jeremy March 16, 2011 at 7:07 pm

It was a pair of birds, so when the first one broke, the other one was useless, which is why Frank broke it. Nothing ambiguous about it.

M. Lawrence March 16, 2011 at 7:07 pm

I read the whole article via the link and I like the other two stories better than the Sinatra one.

Mark March 16, 2011 at 7:17 pm

My favorite is the story of Bob Hoover, perhaps the worlds best pilot. Paraphrasing:

After an airshow, Bob and a couple of guests took off in his plane to head back home when, shortly after takeoff, the engine lost power. While his nervous passengers feared the worst, Bob managed to land the plane. Upon inspection, he found that his plane had been fueled with jet fuel rather than aviation gasoline (it was a piston engine).

Bob finds out who put the wrong fuel in, turns out it was a young kid who was horrified that he made a potentially fatal error. Bob puts his arm around him and reassures the kid that mistakes happen, and to make sure it didn’t happen again Bob wanted him to fuel his plane the next day. The kid did so and got it right.

My understanding this made a Paul Harvey “Rest of the Story” episode, but I recall this from his autobiography, “Forever Flying.”

Michael DesJardins March 16, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Sure, Frank could be a cad. It is more likely he replaced them both.

Be generous with praise, but light with reproach.

Liisa Lee March 16, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Michael – perfectly put. Thank you!

And Melissa you’re right. Too many pearls before swine these days.
But thank GOODNESS for TAOM… a chance for fellas to learn these things.

It’s so important to have TAOM in a generation of TMZ celeb bashing and reality buffoons.

And I bet Frank did replace them. <3

Michael F. March 16, 2011 at 8:47 pm

The other examples are much better. They did not slight someone else in order to be magnanimous.

Scott Brenner March 16, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Boy, these journalists sure know how to re-write the facts, don’t they? Francis Albert was notorious for his nasty, violent temper and could ill afford to look like a jerk, especially serving as the gracious host for his ex-wife and the mucky-mucks. A few of his fits of rage can be found here: Other than his contribution to crooning, ear for good music, and his okay acting/directing ability, I can’t understand why this fellow is held in such manly regard.

Stephen March 17, 2011 at 6:43 am

I’m not seeing how smashing another ornament is an example of particularly amazing graciousness, especially if your daughter appears to be upset about the first one breaking because her mother liked it. That’s not how you win father of the year.

If he’d just “put an arm gently around [the young woman] and said, in a way that put her completely at ease, ‘That’s OK, kid.’ “ that would have been perfectly fine. You really don’t need to crash the front of your car into a wall to be “gracious” about someone rear ending you.

Stephen March 17, 2011 at 7:52 am

“Jeremy March 16, 2011 at 7:07 pm
It was a pair of birds, so when the first one broke, the other one was useless, which is why Frank broke it. Nothing ambiguous about it.”

Yeah, who needs one of anything anyway?

Michael March 17, 2011 at 8:13 am

Along these lines there’s a story (who knows how much of it is accurate) about Humphrey Bogart trying to get a table at a restaurant and being told they were fully booked. The person he was with asked him, “Aren’t you going to tell her who you are.” Without missing a beat, Bogie looks back at him and says, “If I gotta tell her, then I ain’t.” As a waiter I’ve seen many celebrities and near-celebrities interact with the public and you never can tell by someone’s public persona who will be gracious and who will be a schmuck. Among those I would single out for praise in my experience: Ice T, Bill Murray, and Wayne Newton.

Dann March 17, 2011 at 10:48 am

If I remember this article correctly, this was his daughter Tina’s 9th birthday, and the “young woman” was a terrified little girl.

Ian March 17, 2011 at 1:31 pm

I read the other link, I’m sad to see the General didn’t act graciously toward the rest of his country and execute Mrs. Jarrett on the spot. She’s a monster and a recipient of presidential graft. I suppose General Chiarelli is a bigger person for treating a corrupt person like a normal person.

Drew March 4, 2013 at 7:33 pm

So Frankie goes out of his way to soothe a girl but later spits on a woman\? nah no convinced, he was a cunt

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