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Who was Part of the Original Rat Pack?

Many entertainment groups took on center stage and bedazzled their audiences at the height of their careers, but none can compare to a group of mischiefs and party-goers of the 1950s. The Rat Pack became so famous and influenced several other groups.

The Rat Pack was a group of American entertainers and close friends that was formed in the 1950s. The Pack was composed of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop.

The Origin of the Rat Pack

The Rat Pack started when a group of friends headed by actor and entertainer Humphrey Bogart went on a five-day sleepless partying in Las Vegas. The Pack was formed when its members came together at the Los Angeles home of Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

The group was composed of singers and actors who, in their time, were iconic individuals.

  • Humphrey Bogart – silver screen actor
  • Frank Sinatra – singer and motion-picture actor
  • Dean Martin – singer and actor alongside Sinatra
  • Sammy Davis Jr. – singer, dancer, actor, and comedian
  • Peter Lawford – British actor and brother-in-law of former President John F. Kennedy
  • Joey Bishop – comedian and talk show host

The group got its name from Lauren Bacall. In one of their infamous partying and drinking escapades, Bacall walked in on the group and saw them disheveled, saying they looked like a rat pack. The name stuck to the group moving forward.

Upon Bogart’s death, Sinatra took his place as the sort of leader of the Pack. They didn’t refer to themselves as the rat pack. They often called themselves The Clan or The Summit. Still, the media generally adopted the rat pack label and has stuck up until today, despite Sinatra’s intense dislike of it.

The group soon became the household name of the Sands Hotel and Casino, the seventh resort to open on the Las Vegas strip during the post-world war two boom of the legalization of gambling.

In 1960, all five surviving members of the Pack were cast for the movie Ocean’s 11, with Sinatra taking the main character’s role. This particular movie cemented the group’s fame, showcasing their brand of glitz, glamor, and cocktail culture a la Las Vegas.

The informal group soon starred in other films like Sergeants Three in 1962, Four For Texas in 1963, and Robin and the Seven Hoods in 1964. But the group was more known for their stage performances in the Copa Room at the Sands Hotel. It was known that if one of the Pack were headlining the performance, the audience would be delighted when the other Pack members showed up unannounced and joined the show. (Source: Biography)

The Decline of the Rat Pack

The group’s fame and stardom was in full swing in the late fifties to the early sixties, showing the public the Las Vegas lifestyle. Towards the end of the sixties, their brand of life’s a party soon declined with the invasion of the British bands.

British rock bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones took the spotlight from the Pack. This, along with Sinatra severing ties with The Sands Hotel, contributed to the group losing centerstage. The hotel was purchased by billionaire Howard Hughes, who cut off Sinatra’s casino credit line. Sinatra packed his bags and his acts and moved to the Caesar’s Palace down the street in response to this. (Source: Biography)

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