Dressing The Chairman

Dressing The Chairman

My time with Frank Sinatra reported in past columns happened on an otherwise bleak January afternoon 55 years ago. I’m not getting any younger and the clock’s ticking, so I thought it time to premier a heretofore unreported bit from the still un-produced one act play Dressing The Chairman by Joe Cosgriff. My Pal Joey, no stranger to the world of jazz, co-authored World on a String with guitarist and singer Joe Pizzarelli. This effort transcribes yours truly playing second fiddle to Ole Blue Eyes on stage.

Well known for spending his life in the company of big bands, cronies, pals, and packs, Sinatra brought a colorful All-Pro East Coast entourage with him to J. Press on this particular afternoon.

The illustrious lineup included:

The legendary Manhattan saloon operator, as well as Sinatra’s bodyguard, gatekeeper, enforcer, and, according to daughter Nancy, his “right-hand man,” Ermenigildo “Jilly” Rizzo.

Next up was the winner of four Academy Awards, a former test pilot for Lockheed P-38 fighter planes and C-60 transport planes during World War II, composer of seventy-six songs recorded by Sinatra, he was Ol’ Blue Eyes’ late-night drinking companion of choice, Jimmy Van Heusen.

First-cousin of Alphonse Gabriel Capone of Chicago, Illinois, and according to FBI files (and this is the FBI speaking, not me), “the least intelligent” of the rough-and-tumble Fischetti Brothers—Joe “Stingy” Fischetti. A friend of Sinatra’s since 1938, “Joe Fish” held the position of “talent manager” at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach in 1969, not to be confused with another person altogether who actually ran the room and booked the talent.

Also in the group that day were - Alan Hirschfield, Sinatra’s advisor from the Wall Street investment firm Allen & Company, Dr. Maurice Saklad, an oral surgeon from NYU who had been a longtime friend and all-around mouth-care provider to Frank Sinatra. When Sinatra was on the East Coast, Dr. Saklad was said to be on call to personally respond on a timely basis to any dental issues the singer might encounter. He also had been assigned to the locker next to my own at the now demised City Athletic Club.

Lt. Arthur Schultheis, commander of the 14th Squad (now Midtown South), who had been a technical advisor on The Detective, a film starring Sinatra that had been filmed in late 1967 and released in early 1968.

Based on the good-natured banter that passed among members of the group, I concluded that Sinatra regularly required that Dr. Saklad accompany him for a full day following an invasive dental procedure. A personal dentist represented just one of the features that distinguished the Frank Sinatra Dental Plan from the one offered at J. Press.

Living up to his reputation for outsized generosity, Sinatra asked us to provide complete outfits with furnishings for each of pals. Hirschfield and Dr. Saklad politely declined Sinatra’s offer of a J. Press fitting. An impeccably dressed Harvard Business School grad and later a West Coast dealmaker, Hirschfield pleaded monogamy, claiming to be “a very satisfied customer of your competitor down the street.” I took that to mean Brooks Brothers. Dr. Maury simply told me, “I don’t do Ivy.” These words came from the man with fresh saliva stains on his splashy Broadway flowered tie.

Stay tuned for more Ole Blue Eyes’ Ivy Heyday. I still got him under my skin.







I was in the DC store one day, Arthur Noble behind the counter. A browser yelled across the store to Arthur that he couldn’t find any pleated pants. Arthur looked up and said “Sir, this is J Press, we don’t HAVE pleats”. The guy left.

William Butler

enjoying your thoughts AND your clothes! Stick with Cosgriff. He won’t steer you wrong!


Very colorful writing and a very pleasant read. Thank you.

Fred Blum

Excellent. So funny and you are a good writer.
I remember Arthur Nobel from your Washington store. Impeccable gentleman and so very proud of your Diplomatic Corps clientele at that store. I wonder how he would have handled the " entourage". Diplomatically, I’m sure.

I also wonder, did Sinatra hear about your store from Kennedy ? They probably didnt take the catalogue in Hoboken.

Best from Detroit -

G. M. Palmer