Entertainment

Frank Sinatra’s Advice to a Young George Michael

'Talent must not be wasted' — and other savvy, sensible insights for all stars, actually

George Michael, at age 27 in 1990, was at the height of his fame. Hot on the heels of the release of his second solo album, “Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1,” he spoke with the Los Angeles Times of the difficulties that come with a privileged celebrity lifestyle.

In the article entitled, “George Michael’s Case Against Fame,” the singer said, “Most people find it hard to believe that stardom can make you miserable. After all, everybody wants to be a star. I certainly did, and I worked hard to get it. But I was miserable, and I don’t want to feel that way again.”

“Talent must not be wasted,” wrote Sinatra. “Those who have talent must hug it, embrace it, nurture it and share it lest it be taken away from you as fast as it was loaned to you.”

These are familiar sentiments from celebrities — especially current ones. At the time of Michael’s words, veteran crooner Frank Sinatra was ready to pass along some advice from one generation to the next about humility, fame, and art that many celebs, and even everyday Americans, would be wise to listen to today.

“When I saw your Calendar cover today about George Michael, the ‘reluctant pop star,'” Sinatra wrote in a letter that was published only a week after the Michael interview, “my first reaction was he should thank the good Lord every morning when he wakes up to have all that he has. And that’ll make two of us thanking God every morning for all that we have.”

Among Michael’s complaints in the original interview: “I used to just sit out in the sun all the time because I loved it, so I always did have a tan,” he said. “But now I get bored doing that. I start getting restless … and, besides, I’m starting to burn. That’s something that never used to happen.”

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Michael complained his image was a creation that was “much harder to control” and the interview was acting as a “goodbye” of sorts — as the singer claimed he wanted to be more behind the scenes and focus on writing music for other people.

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“I don’t understand a guy who ‘lives in hopes of reducing the strain of his celebrity status,'” Sinatra continued in his letter. “Here’s a kid who ‘wanted to be a pop star since I was about 7 years old.’ And now that he’s a smash performer and songwriter at 27, he wants to quit doing what tons of youngsters all over the world would shoot grandma for — just one crack at what he’s complaining about.”

Michael was far from the only celebrity to bemoan his public status at the height of stardom. His 1990 sentiments may have been foreign to a music business veteran like Sinatra — but they’ve arguably only grown among public figures over the years.

“The more money you make, the more free stuff you get. I think that that’s weird, and I’m not a huge fan of it,” “Divergent” star Shailene Woodley told iVillage in 2012 about fame.

“Twilight” actress Kristen Stewart told Vogue U.K. about her newfound celebrity: “People expect it to be easy because there you are, out there, doing the thing you want and making lots of money out of it.”

Megan Fox, reality stars like Kim Kardashian who regularly invite cameras into their “personal” lives … the list of celebrities complaining about fame would keep Sinatra writing letters on a full-time basis today.

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Or perhaps the great crooner’s words to Michael can act as an open letter to all public figures — to all people, even — now that it seems more relevant than ever. “No more of that talk about ‘the tragedy of fame.’ The tragedy of fame is when no one shows up and you’re singing to the cleaning lady in some empty joint that hasn’t seen a paying customer since Saint Swithin’s days,” wrote the “My Way” singer.

Sinatra was over 70 years old when he penned the open letter to Michael. He was a man with decades of superstardom behind him and a successful career in music and movies. His generation of celebrities had a certain mystique about it, a control of the spotlight that seems to be missing among many stars today.

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“Stardom,” wrote Sinatra in the letter, “in Latin means thanks-to-the-fans who were there when it was lonely.”

Though it’s unclear whether Michael ever read Sinatra’s letter, he may have later learned a few of the lessons the crooner wanted to impart. After struggling with drug abuse and falling hard from fame, Michael became a later-in-life humble comeback story, probably more appreciative of the fans and public support than before.

Sinatra, meanwhile, had the wisdom in 1990 to share the advice many celebrities should heed today.

“Talent must not be wasted,” wrote Sinatra. “Those who have talent must hug it, embrace it, nurture it and share it lest it be taken away from you as fast as it was loaned to you.”

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