The Rat Pack emerged in the 1950s as a group of Hollywood friends who initially gathered at the home of Humphrey Bogart. Members Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop collaborated on films in the ’60s, but they weren’t the only ones in the group. Other prominent figures like Cary Grant and Mickey Rooney were Rat Packers, along with various leading ladies. From Judy Garland to Patricia Kennedy, the array of women who floated in and out of the Rat Pack’s circle may surprise you.
Judy Garland Was The Group’s First VP
Judy Garland wasn’t just a member of the Rat Pack, but was the group’s first vice president! Having been a leading lady for decades, Judy could certainly hold her own among the other members of the group.
Judy and Frank Sinatra go way back, having starred in the musical Till the Clouds Roll By together in 1946, a decade before the Rat Pack was formed. She appeared alongside leading members Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean in Martin Pepe, a 1960 musical comedy.
Katharine Hepburn Was Connected To Humphrey Bogart
Years before Humphrey Bogart started the Rat Pack by hosting Hollywood gatherings at his home, he was friends with Katharine Hepburn. In fact, it was Katharine who suggested that Bogart star along her side in the 1951 adventure film African Queen.
The film garnered Bogart an Academy Award for Best Actor. Katharine was also nominated for Best Actress, and she went on to achieve the second most Academy Award nominations of any woman. The Rat Pack was lucky to have her in their circle!
Marilyn Monroe Was Deeply Fond Of Frank Sinatra
Marilyn Monroe was such a household name at the time that we can’t imagine any group would reject her admission. The link that brought her into the Rat Pack was her dear friendship with Frank Sinatra.
According to The Desert Sun, Frank was a strong support for Marilyn when she went through her divorces. She wrote of the superstar, “He makes me feel secure and happy. He makes me laugh. I think he is the only man who has taught me how to live.”
Janet Leigh And Husband Tony Curtis Were Rat Packers
If you’re a fan of the “scream queen” Jamie Lee Curtis, then you may also be familiar with her star parents, Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis. Janet emerged as a leading lady in the late ’40s, marrying fellow actor Tony in 1951.
The couple continued to rise in fame throughout the ’50s, spending time with the Rat Pack. Janet has since been characterized by her famous role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, for which she won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award.
Shirley MacLaine Was Seen As One Of The Guys
Some Rat Pack members were referred to as “mascots” of the group, particularly women. Shirley MacLaine was one of the most well-known mascots since she was openly regarded as “one of the boys.”
In Shirley’s memoir, she wrote that the leading males of the Rat Pack made “a kind of communal decision” that she was merely a pal. As a result, Shirley said she felt “comfortable and friendly being around the guys of the group.”
Lauren Bacall Came Up With “Rat Pack”
There are a few tales of how the group came to be known as the “Rat Pack.” One explanation is that Lauren Bacall, who was married to Humphrey Bogart, told the star and his friends that they looked like a rat pack one night.
After Humphrey passed away in the late ’50s, Lauren became involved with fellow Rat Packer Frank Sinatra. The two were briefly engaged, but Frank ultimately called it off after becoming furious that their wedding plans went public.
Kim Novak Received Backlash For Dating Sammy Davis Jr.
Kim Novak signed to Columbia Pictures in 1954, and a year later, she appeared alongside Frank Sinatra in the drama The Man with the Golden Arm. Later that decade, Kim was highly regarded for her role in the Alfred Hitchcock film Vertigo.
She spent some of her Rat Packer years on the arm of Sammy Davis Jr. The pair received backlash, and even threats, for being a mixed-race couple amid the Civil Rights Movement. Ultimately, Sammy went on to marry another white Rat Packer.
Elizabeth Taylor Was A Teen Star Turned Hollywood Icon
Elizabeth Taylor was such a prominent star for most of her life that it’s hard to imagine a Hollywood circle that she wouldn’t have been welcomed into. At the age of nine she was offered a contract with both Universal Studios and MGM.
Elizabeth went with the former and proceeded to emerge as one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. She transitioned into adult roles in the ’50s and began running with the Rat Pack. By the end of the decade, she was a critically-acclaimed actress.
Lena Horne Was A Trend-Setting Triple Threat
Lena Horne emerged in the ’30s as a triple threat: an actress, singer, and dancer. As a mixed-race woman of African American descent, she was a trendsetter in Hollywood. Lena worked for both MGM and 20th Century Fox in the 1940s, but became disillusioned with the business by the ’50s.
Lena transitioned away from Hollywood by honing in on her nightclub career in the mid-’50s. Considering her talent and fame, it’s no surprise she was a visiting member of the Rat Pack.
Mia Farrow Was Married To Frank Sinatra
Mia Farrow rose to popularity for her starring role in the soap opera Peyton Place. Around the same time, she began a relationship with Frank Sinatra, who was almost thirty years her senior.
The pair wed in 1966 and Farrow was planned to be a part of Sinatra’s film The Detective. Instead, Mia starred in Rosemary’s Baby and split from Frank. Though their relationship wasn’t terribly long-lived, it did overlap with the Rat Pack years.
Marlene Dietrich Was Established Long Before The Rat Pack
Marlene Dietrich’s career began with silent films back in the 1920s. It was the 1930 German film The Blue Angel that put Marlene on the map. By the 1950s, she was swimming in the same circles as some of the most prominent figures in Hollywood.
In addition to her acting talent and fashion sense, Marlene was known for her alleged affairs with greats such as George Bernard Shaw, John F. Kennedy, and Rat Packer Frank Sinatra.
Ava Gardner Was Married To Two Rat Packers
Ava Gardner signed with MGM in 1941, and one year later she married Rat Packer Mickey Rooney. The wedding was kept a secret so that fans wouldn’t be deterred by Mickey’s new relationship status.
The marriage only lasted a year, but Ava agreed not to reveal Mickey’s adulterous ways for the sake of his career. In 1951 the established leading lady married Frank Sinatra. The pair divorced in 1956, but remained friends for the remainder of their lives.
Juliet Prowse Rose To Fame In Can-Can
Juliet Prowse was a South African dancer who rose to prominence for her role in Can-Can. Though she starred in the 1959 musical alongside Hollywood giants like Frank Sinatra, Juliet stood out in the crowd.
Time called Juliet the best thing about the otherwise subpar film, and the following year she co-starred with Elvis Presley in G.I. Blues. Juliet went on to appear on The Frank Sinatra Show and starred alongside fellow Rat-Packer Mickey Rooney decades later in Sugar Babies.
Angie Dickinson Starred With Other Rat Packers In Ocean’s 11
Angie Dickinson was another of the few actresses who was deemed a Rat Pack mascot. She met and began dating Sinatra in the early ’50s, and appeared alongside him and other Rat Packers in the 1960 hit movie Ocean’s 11.
In an interview with The Desert Sun, Angie said that though her and Frank’s romantic relationship didn’t last, they remained great friends. She continued to run with the Rat Pack for years, but kept her distance to avoid having another fling with one of the members.
May Britt Retired From Acting When She Wed Sammy Davis Jr.
May Britt was discovered at 18-years-old while working as a photographer’s assistant in Sweden. Italian filmmakers offered her the title role in Jolanda, the Daughter of the Black Corsair, launching her acting career.
May signed with 20th Century Fox and relocated to Hollywood, where she met Sammy Davis Jr. in 1959. The two wed the following year, despite the fact interracial marriage was still illegal in 31 states. Sammy and May welcomed three children before getting a divorce in 1968.
Ruta Lee Starred In Sergeants 3 With Rat Packers
Ruta Lee got her big break in 1954 with her role in the Academy Award-nominated musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. She rounded out the decade with several more successful films before starring in Sergeants 3.
The 1962 Western comedy featured Rat Packers Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr., and Frank Sinatra. She and Frank remained friends for years, and she told The Desert Sun that he treated her “like one of his daughters.”
Any 1950s actress who had the same first name and initials as Marilyn Monroe and still became a household name clearly knew what she was doing. Such was the case with Marilyn Maxwell, who signed with MGM in 1942.
As a big band singer, Marilyn met Frank Sinatra in the 1930s and the two became friends. When she gave up singing for acting in the ’40s, Frank became more than just a friend. Their affair was eventually outed and Marilyn went on to pursue a relationship with Bob Hope.
Lana Turner Is An Icon Of Classic Hollywood Cinema
The glamorous Lana Turner had an acting and modeling career that spanned half a century. She emerged as a leading lady in the 1940s, around the time she began a love affair with Frank Sinatra. The two would meet in Palm Springs to escape the tabloids.
Lana’s fame continued through the Rat Pack years of the 1950s. She landed an Academy Award nomination for her role in Peyton Place, the film version of the soap opera Mia Farrow starred in a decade later.
Patricia Kennedy Was Rat Packer Peter Lawford’s Wife
As the sister of Robert, John, and Ted Kennedy, Patricia was a well-known socialite. Since their father was the head of RKO Pictures, she developed a fascination with Hollywood and wanted to be a movie producer.
Peter Lawford produced the first cooking program on network television, NBC’s I Love To Eat. Patricia met the Rat Packer multiple times in the 1940s and ’50s, and the two finally tied the knot in 1954. The pair remained together until 1966.
Jeanne Biegger Was A Model And The Wife Of Dean Martin
Jeanne Biegger started her modeling career at a young age, meeting Dean Martin at a New Year’s Eve show in 1949. The pair wed when she was 22-years-old and they had three children together.
The supportive Jeanne also helped raise Dean’s four other children he had from his previous marriage. The couple remained together through the bulk of the Rat Pack years, but ultimately separated in the year 1973. Jeanne and Dean stayed close until he passed in 1995.