Luck Wasn't A Lady That Night: The Intriguing Case Of Frank Sinatra Jr.'s Kidnapping

Date March 29, 2018

Kidnappings are not common only in movies. Unfortunately, there are some real-life cases of celebrity abduction for ransom.

One of such examples, was the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, the grandchild of the oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, in 1973.

John Paul, 16 at the time, was kidnapped by three men who demanded $17 million for his return. J. Paul Getty, a cold billionaire, refused to pay the ransom, saying that he has 14 more grandchildren, and if he pays, he will have 14 more kidnappings.


READ ALSO: Notorious Billionaire J. Paul Getty Refused To Pay $17 Million Ransom To Save His Grandson

The parents of the abducted teenager raised money, and John Paul was released. The event traumatized him so much that he developed a drug addiction, and overdosed at the age of 25, which left him quadriplegic. He died in 2011 at the age of 54.

Not all kidnapping stories go tragically as this one. Another famous family handled a similar case much better.

Beware of the strangers in the night

In 1963, the singer and actor Frank Sinatra was the biggest name in America. His songs blasted from every stereo, and his movies gathered audiences in theatres. No wonder he became the target of a crime.

The brains behind the kidnapping operation was Barry Keenan, a Los Angeles 23-year-old resident who attended high school with Sinatra's daughter Nancy. Keenan targetted Frank Sinatra Jr. because he was in desperate need of money. His nervous system was being destroyed by alcohol and drugs, and as a result, he decided to carry out his plans.


Barry Keenan involved two partners in his plan, Johnny Irwin and Joe Amsler. They kidnapped Frank Jr. from a motel in Lake Tahoe. The abductors demanded $240,000 ransom from a famous singer, who was immediately ready to cooperate.

British Pathé / YouTube

READ ALSO: Beautiful But Sad Love Story Of Frank Sinatra And Ava Gardner

Frank Jr. was released two days after being taken. The 19-year-old was unharmed when he reunited with his family. "I was scared, I was a little bit nervous, naturally, but the only thing I could do is hope for the best," he said in the interview with the press.

British Pathé / YouTube

Keenan, along with his partners, was soon captured by the FBI. The authorities located him at his girlfriend's place, where he had all the ransom money.

British Pathé / YouTube

The prosecutors sentenced Barry Keenan to a life in prison; however, he was released after four and a half years. Overall, Keenan walked free because the officials declared him to be criminally insane at the time of abduction,

British Pathé / YouTube

The Sinatra family lived bravely through the event and eventually were able to get over it. Frank Jr. started his own career, and passed away in 2016 at the age of 72.

In the mind of a kidnapper

Barry Keenan became somewhat famous due to the kidnapping of Frank Sinatra Jr. He gave many interviews throughout the years and is still willing to discuss the event. He feels bad about it and hopes that one day it fades away from the Sinatra family history.

I wasn't feeling well. The emotion of it didn't really hit me until a little later that it was real, and then I felt sorry.


Keenan turned his life around after all. He became a successfull real estate broker. He is 80 years old today and currently lives in Texas.

READ ALSO: 5-Year-Old Girl Surprises Everyone By Singing Frank Sinatra Songs