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Frank Sinatra

“God told me to kidnap Frank Jr”

Frank Jr with his father and mother, Nancy, in 1967. Darlene Hammond/Getty Images

Frank Sinatra’s son was abducted in 1963, says John Stamos in his podcast series The Grand Scheme: Snatching Sinatra. His kidnapper was Barry Keenan, a mentally ill young man from Los Angeles who had fallen on hard times. At 21 he was making a killing at the LA stock exchange, but a car accident left him an “unemployable drug addict” with a damaged back, hooked on drink and painkillers. His once wealthy father was bankrupt and his mother was suicidal. One day, when he was high, God told him a lucrative kidnapping was the answer to his family’s troubles. He took His word for it.

With the help of two friends, Keenan abducted 19-year-old Frank Sinatra Jr from a hotel room at gunpoint. All three were inept criminals and the kidnapping was a comedy of errors. They even turned down Sinatra’s offer of a $1m ransom, insisting that $240,000 was enough. Having safely released Frank Jr, they were arrested by the FBI and sent to prison. Keenan was declared “insane” at the time of the crime and released after four and a half years. He reinvented himself as a successful real-estate developer, befriended George and Laura Bush, and even chatted backstage with Frank Jr at a concert – although he didn’t reveal his identity.

Listen to The Grand Scheme: Snatching Sinatra here.