The Seedy Side of Frank Sinatra and other Beloved Historic Figures
The Seedy Side of Frank Sinatra and other Beloved Historic Figures

The Seedy Side of Frank Sinatra and other Beloved Historic Figures

Khalid Elhassan - October 7, 2022

The Seedy Side of Frank Sinatra and other Beloved Historic Figures
The Koch brothers, David, left, and Charles. PBS

The Seedy History of the Koch Dynasty

America’s most powerful dynasty today is probably the Koch family. They own Koch Industries, America’s second biggest privately owned company with revenues of $115 billion in 2019. Politically active for decades, the Kochs have been generous patrons of conservative and libertarian causes and figures. More recently, the brothers David and Charles Koch have garnered widespread attention for heading a network of hundreds of libertarian and conservative think tanks, policy groups, and candidates. The rise of the fiscally conservative Tea Party movement owed much to Koch generosity. The dynasty’s power was so great that in 2011, House Speaker John Boehner turned to David Koch when he needed votes to prevent a government shutdown.

The Kochs have been key financial supporters of climate change skeptics. However, although staunchly libertarian and conservative, they have at times partnered with progressives. In 2015, for example, they worked with the American Civil Liberties Union on criminal justice reform, specifically on the issue of asset forfeiture. It goes without saying that the Kochs have been adamant opponents of communism and all that has a whiff of socialism. As seen below, that did not stop the dynasty’s founder from working for Joseph Stalin. In one of many seedy moves in a long business career, he helped the Soviet dictator modernize the USSR’s oil industry.

The Seedy Side of Frank Sinatra and other Beloved Historic Figures
Fred C. Koch, left, and American Nazi William Rhodes Davis. Inhabit

Fred C. Koch’s Seedy Ties to Both the Nazis and Stalin

Fred C. Koch (1900 – 1967), paterfamilias of the Koch dynasty, founded the Winkler-Koch Engineering Company with an MIT classmate in 1925, and went into the oil business. When the duo lost a series of patent infringement lawsuits to bigger oil companies, they decided to seek their fortunes overseas. So they headed to the Soviet Union, where they helped Stalin modernize the country’s oil industry. They trained Soviet engineers, and built fifteen thermal cracking units to turn crude oil into gasoline. Fred became a radical anticommunist after Stalin purged his Soviet trainees, reneged on their deal, and deprived him of revenue. Stalin was not the only totalitarian dictator helped by Fred C. Koch.

The seedy businessman worked with American Nazi William Rhodes Davis, who had personal ties with Adolf Hitler. Shortly after things went sour for him in the USSR, Fred headed to Germany, where he built the Hamburg Oil Refinery, the Third Reich’s third biggest refinery. Fred admired the Nazis, and in a 1938 letter, he wrote: “Although nobody agrees with me, I am of the opinion that the only sound countries in the world are Germany, Italy, and Japan, simply because they are all working and working hard“. The Hamburg refinery was a big help to the Nazis as they swept through Europe, until it was finally taken out of action by Allied bombing in 1944.

The Seedy Side of Frank Sinatra and other Beloved Historic Figures
Benito Mussolini. Ireland’s Own

Mussolini Liked to Write Erotic Letters

Italian dictator Benito Mussolini (1883 – 1945), founder of his country’s Fascist Party, was Italy’s prime minister and leader from 1922 to 1943. He was the first European fascist dictator, and was an inspirational figure for Adolf Hitler, who modeled himself after Mussolini in his own rise to power. Eventually, the Italian dictator was overshadowed by his German imitator, and Mussolini ended up as Hitler’s sidekick. Mussolini had delusions of grandeur, and sought to revive the Roman Empire. Neither he nor Italy were up to the task, however, and Mussolini often bit more than he could chew.

The results were often farcical, and led to sundry humiliations and setbacks. Towards the end of his career, after he dragged an unprepared Italy into World War II and bungled it badly, Mussolini’s image morphed from that of a great statesman to a hapless buffoon. It ended badly for him, when his countrymen captured him in the final days of WWII in Europe. They killed him and his mistress, and displayed them in downtown Milan, suspended upside down by their ankles from meat hooks. That the man was a comic dictator was well known. That he had a seedy sensual side and habitually penned erotic letters, few knew of at the time.

The Seedy Side of Frank Sinatra and other Beloved Historic Figures
Mussolini’s mistress, Clara Petacci. The Fanatic

Il Duce in Bed

To unwind, Mussolini liked to write erotic letters. The fascist dictator habitually wrote cringe-worthy dirty letters, as was discovered when the diary of Clara Petacci, the mistress killed and strung up by his side, came to light in 2009. For all his shortcomings, one thing Il Duce (Italian for leader) had going for him was an incredible libido and remarkable stamina. As described by Petacci, Mussolini often had up to fourteen mistresses at a time, and would regularly go through three or four different women in a single evening.

The fascist dictator was also jarringly loud during love making: “his screams seem like those of a wounded beast“, as Petacci put it. He was a total hound, who seemingly lusted after every woman he met. As he described it, after his first intimate encounter with a hooker at age seventeen: “Naked women entered my life, my dreams, my desires. I undressed them with my eyes, the girls that I met, I lusted after them violently with my thoughts“. Luckily for him, many Italian women had the hots for him as well. At the height of his power, thousands sent letters in which they propositioned him every day.

The Seedy Side of Frank Sinatra and other Beloved Historic Figures
Benito Mussolini. Historia Blog

Mussolini’s Seedy Side

Il Duce had underlings sort his fan letters by senders into “known” and “new”. After police background checks on the “new” women, the more interesting ones were put in folders and passed on to him. Those who caught his eye – usually big breasted and broad hipped – were summoned for an afternoon liaison at his palace. He wasted no time, and often got down to business immediately on the carpet, against the wall, or on a stone window seat. Those who pleased him were added to his many mistresses, and in correspondence with them, Mussolini held little back.

E.g.; ” Orgasm is good for you: it sharpens your thoughts, it widens your horizons, it helps your brain, makes it vivid and brilliant“. Or “Be afraid of my love. It’s like a cyclone. It’s tremendous; it overwhelms everything. You must tremble.” And “I tremble in telling you, but I have a feverish desire for your delicious little body which I want to kiss all over. And you must adore my body, your giant…” Or “Your flesh has got me – from now on I’m a slave to your flesh.” And ” I’m bad – hit me, hurt me, punish me, but don’t suffer. I love you. I think about you all day, even when I’m working.”


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

Ackroyd, Peter – Dickens (1990)

Atlantic, The, October 11th, 2011 – Dickens in Love: How the Author’s Romantic Life Affected His Novels

Capeci, Jerry – The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Mafia (2005)

Carlson, W. Bernard – Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age (2013)

Cheney, Margaret – Tesla: Man Out of Time (2011)

Costanzo, Ezio – The Mafia and the Allies: Sicily, 1943, and the Return of the Mafia (2007)

Cracked – 20 Classy (but Still Kinda Sleazy) Facts About Frank Sinatra

Crime Museum – Frank Sinatra

Critchley, David – The Origin of Organized Crime in America: The New York City Mafia, 1891-1931 (2008)

Daily Beast – For 50 Years ‘The Godfather’ Has Sold Us a Beautiful Lie

Daily Best – What the Hell Has Hollywood Got Against Nikola Tesla?

Dormandy, Thomas – Opium: Reality’s Dark Dream (2012)

Duggan, Christopher – Fascism and the Mafia (1989)

Fuchs, Jeanne, and Prigozy, Ruth – Frank Sinatra: The Man, the Music, the Legend (2007)

Gambino, Richard – Vendetta: The True Story of the Largest Lynching in US History (2000)

GQ, June 20th, 2019 – A Dirty, Rotten, Double Crossing (True) Story of What Happened to the Italian American Mob

Hamill, Pete – Why Sinatra Matters (1998)

Hari, Johann – Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs (2016)

Hertfordshire Life – The Dramatic Life and Passing of Prime Minister Lord Palmerston

History Collection – Hollywood’s Witch Hunt Created a Communist Blacklist for these Celebrities

Honolulu Star Advertiser, March 18th, 2018 – Hawaii Ponzi Schemer and Professed Secret Agent Dies at 76

Los Angeles Times, November 7th, 1999 – The Rise and Fall of Joseph McCarthy

Lupo, Salvatore – History of the Mafia (2009)

Mayer, Jane – Dark Money: The History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (2016)

National Post, April 18th, 2017 – ‘I Want to Harm You, Be Brutal With You’: How Mussolini’s Last Love, Fueled by Sex and Power, Shaped Him

New Orleans Historical – Sicilian Lynching at the Old Parish Prison

National Public Radio – Dining Like Darwin: When Scientists Swallow Their Subjects

New York Times, September 3rd, 1985 – CIA Officers Testify at Hawaii Fraud Trial

New York Times, January 12th, 2016 – Father of Koch Brothers Helped Build Nazi Oil Refinery, Book Says

Neville, Peter – Mussolini (2004)

Ranker – 16 Extremely Dark Things You’d Never Suspect Charles Dickens Actually Did

Schulman, Daniel – Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty (2014)

Slate – What’s Fact and What’s Fiction in ‘The United States vs Billie Holliday?

Smithsonian Magazine, December 2005 – The Evolution of Charles Darwin

Smithsonian Magazine, October 11th, 2011 – Edison vs Westinghouse: A Shocking Rivalry

Spiegel, November 26th, 2009 – In Bed With Benito: Sex Diaries Reveal Mussolini’s Soft Side

Taraborrelli, J. Randy – Sinatra: Behind the Legend (2015)

Washington Post, May 5th, 2017 – Five Myths About the Mafia

World History Project – Frank Sinatra is Arrested