There aren’t many people who would dare to call Frank Sinatra
‘godfather’, but BT’s advertising manager, Sholto Douglas-Home, is in
the extraordinary position of being able to use the term literally.
It’s a long story, played out in full in last week’s Daily Express to
commemorate ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes at 80’. But for those few members of the ad
industry who are not regular Express readers, this is the gist.
Sholto’s father, Robin Douglas-Home, nephew of the ex-Prime Minister,
Alec, was a copywriter at J. Walter Thompson in the late 50s when he got
taken with the song, I’ve Got You Under my Skin. He vowed that he
himself would get underneath Francis Albert’s and find out what made the
Following a fiendish strategy Stephen King would have been proud of,
Douglas-Home contrived to meet Sinatra via a book he wrote about the
arranger/bandleader, Nelson Riddle. He had dinner with Sinatra and
various mates, including Dean Martin, at the Mirabelle and struck up a
friendship which was to last for three years.
Soon, Douglas-Home was abandoning JWT for Hollywood. He spent six months
there with his wife, Sandra, a Vogue cover girl, accumulating material
for a musical biography of Sinatra, and was given extraordinary access,
including permission to take very informal photos.
It is believed that Sholto may have been conceived at the singer’s home
in Palm Springs during 1961. Hence Sinatra was asked to be Sholto’s
godfather - a request he accepted gladly. Ol’ Blue Eyes didn’t actually
make it to the christening in Hampshire on 12 December 1962, but sent a
Sholto’s last meeting with Sinatra came in 1969, when the singer asked
that Robin bring his son to his suite at Claridge’s to celebrate his
seventh birthday. Sholto knew he was special because of the press lined
up outside. Sinatra gave him a compact transistor radio,which was later
confiscated at his prep school when he was caught listening to Radio
The Douglas-Homes lost touch with Sinatra. Robin became an Express
diarist and society figure, Sandra is now married to the Home Secretary,
Michael Howard, and Sholto went into working for the likes of Chris
Still. But, by then, he was used to god-father figures.