Check out this video of Sinatra’s crazed fans outside of the Paramount Theater. They were called “Bobby Soxers” because of that classic poodle skirt and white socks look.
On December 30th, 1942, the world witnessed crazed teenage fans for the first time with Frank Sinatra‘s New Year’s performance at the Paramount Theater in Times Square. With Sinatra’s looks and voice, aided by the popularity of radio shows, he was catapulted into a teenage heartthrob. At Sinatra’s return to the Paramount in 1944, a riot broke out outside the venue among fans who were not allowed in.
Sinatra was not expecting to become so popular. He thought he wouldn’t succeed after breaking with Henry James and his big band. Sinatra later admitted that “The sound that greeted me was absolutely deafening. It was a tremendous roar. Five thousand kids, stamping, yelling, screaming, applauding. I was scared stiff. I couldn’t move a muscle.” Jack Benny said, “I thought the goddamned building was going to cave in. I never heard such a commotion… All this for a fellow I never heard of.”
This performance also taught the music industry a new method for marketing. Previously, popular music was marketed to 30-50 year olds. But after Sinatra, the music industry learned that adolescents are much more devoted as fans, and bring a much higher buying power.
Meanwhile, the Paramount Theater closed in 1966 and was converted into offices and retail. Today you can still visit the iconic space, which currently houses the Hard Rock Cafe.
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