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Beth's Urban Tales of Wonder and Decay

Beth Mann

Beth Mann
Long Beach Island, New Jersey, USA
November 11
Hot Buttered Media
I'm a writer and creative consultant. I have years of experimental comedy and strange theater under my belt. I surf. I cook. I love wine, men and song. And puppies. I effin' love puppies.

Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 22, 2009 10:30AM

Famous Fights that Never Happened - Cash vs. Sinatra

Rate: 53 Flag

The Rules:

1. Two celebrities face-off in an imaginary fight.
2. Both are in their prime.
3. No weapons can be used.

Let's start the match, shall we?

In this corner, standing at 5'8, is Frank Sinatra.

Points in Sinatra's Favor:

  • Sinatra was expelled from high school at 15 for rowdiness.
  • His father, Martin, was an illiterate former prizefighter and fireman.
  • Frank's dying words were "I'm losing" implying that even death was as a fight to him.
  • Sinatra has a highly unpredictable temper. According to one source:
"Though his temper was excessive, Sinatra was known for going from extremely angry to somewhat amused in a matter of seconds. In one incident he dumped hot coffee on a casino manager named Carl Cohen, who had somehow gotten on the singer's wrong side. Cohen responded by punching Sinatra in the face, knocking out his front teeth. Sinatra than concluded, as he later told a friend, "never fight a Jew in the desert."

"For all of his life Sinatra had a very unpredictable temper, often screaming at reporters and getting in fights. In one particularly violent tantrum he ripped a phone out of the wall of his hotel room, broke the windows, and then set it on fire."
  • Sinatra had endurance:
"Dean and Sammy, they couldn't hang," says Hank Cattaneo, Sinatra's concert production manager for the past 20 years. "They weren't in shape for it. After a half-hour, Dean would say, 'I gotta go to bed,' and then Sammy would say, 'Please, let me go too.' But the old man loved to hang, loved to talk and tell stories."
  • Sinatra's favorite passion was prizefighting and was a "close friend" of Tami Mauriello, a heavyweight contender in 1943.
  • A series of recent brawling incidents had been widely covered in the media on the night in 1957 when Sinatra and some of his Rat Pack pals dropped in on the act of insult comedian Don Rickles at a Hollywood club. Rickles, who spared no one during his act, immediately ad libbed: "Here's Frank Sinatra. Make yourself at home, Frank. Hit somebody." After an awed silence, broken only by a few titters on the floor, Sinatra laughed with gusto and the tension was broken.
  • The Mob Connection - if Sinatra didn't win the fight, Cash would be swimming with the fishes. You don't disrespect Sinatra by kicking his ass.
Points working against Sinatra:
  • He's a crooner and crooners aren't natural fighters.
  • He's dead, making fights a challenge, overall.

In this corner, standing at 6'2 is Johnny Cash:

Points working in Cash's Favor:

  • Cash may be a little cold-blooded with lyrics like:
    "I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die."
  • Johnny had hard times in his blood: "Johnny Cash was born in rural, south-central Arkansas, on February 26, 1932." Ouch. That's got to hurt.
  • Cash was of Scottish descent and Scots can be badasses occasionally.
  • Cash was Southern and Southern people like to kick ass.
  • Cash was high and high people are unpredictable with drug-induced superhuman strength:
"As his career was taking off in the early 1960s, Cash started drinking heavily and became addicted to amphetamines and barbiturates. For a brief time, he shared an apartment in Nashville with Waylon Jennings, who was heavily addicted to amphetamines. Cash used the uppers to stay awake during tours. Friends joked about his and erratic behavior, many ignoring the warning signs of his worsening drug addiction. In a behind-the-scenes look at The Johnny Cash Show, Cash claims to have "tried every drug there was to try."
  • Cash often said fuck you to the man:
"In June 1965, his truck caught fire due to an overheated wheel bearing, triggering a forest fire that burned several hundred acres in Los Padres National Forest in California. When the judge asked Cash why he did it, Cash said, "I didn't do it, my truck did, and it's dead, so you can't question it." The fire destroyed 508 acres, burning the foliage off three mountains and killing 49 of the refuge's 53 endangered condors. Cash was unrepentant: "I don't care about your damn yellow buzzards."
  • During a live performance of Kris Kristofferson's "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down", Cash refused to change the lyrics to suit network executives, singing the song with its references to marijuana intact: "On a Sunday morning sidewalk / I'm wishin', Lord, that I was stoned."
Points working against Cash:
  • He's a Pisces and Pisces can be real wusses.
  • He too is dead, which makes fights more of a challenge.
  • He posed like he did time in the slammer but he didn't really.
"Although Cash carefully cultivated a romantic outlaw image, he never served a prison sentence. Despite landing in jail seven times for misdemeanors, each stay lasted only a single night."

And the winner is?

We believe from extensive research that whilst Cash was bigger and a badass in his own right, Sinatra is ruthless and soulless with brawling in his blood. We also believe that even though no weapons are to be used, Frank would disregard this rule and slice Cash before he knew what hit him.

Tune in next week when our Celebrity Fist Fight includes:

Steve Perry and Kate Bush

Thanks to Ms. Ruby Lawrence for her contributions.


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I'd put my money on Cash.
Frank wore a hair piece. I go with Cash 'cause the dude usually played his guitar in E or G. ~R~
I have to go with Cash as well, but Sinatra was from Hoboken, and those people are known to carry razors in their shoes.
Mano a mano I'd pick Cash, but as soon as they squared off someone from Sinatra's cordon of nefarious henchmen (I borrow the phrase from Bullwinkle the Moose) would take out his gun and start firing.
Haha. My money would be on Cash, simply because Sinatra was a bully, and all bullies are cowards at heart. I think that Sinatra's goons would have put a beating on Cash after the fight, though.

My money is also on Kate for next week. Despite his barely measurable testosterone count, a couple of Kate's whirling Kabuki kicks and the battle's over in 5 octaves.
Gotta' Give Cash a Little Credit, I always say... No doubt on this one Beth! Funny shyte, celeb death match right here at OS... RRR
Although you have to watch out for the wirey little guys I too would have bet on Cash simply because them country boys fight dirty.

Next week I put all my money on Kate because Steve has been using the same health excuse for over 10 years.
Yeah, but who would win if they played checkers?
I have to go with Sinatra...I have one of his wife's vintage Pucci dresses...he knows ladies of taste.
I knew Frank would win!
How about a Marilyn Monroe & Anna Nicole Smith match up?
Hey all! Fun little piece that my friend Ruby and I came up with over wine.

Funny you should bring up Anna Nicole, Spotted. I'm having her face off with Dolly Parton after the Perry/Bush fight - now THAT one is a tough call. My money would be on Anna, for sheer mental instablility and the superhuman strength that brings. She's got "nuthouse" crazy which is as strong as Dracula's. The "nothing to lose" crazy. VERY strong.

Dolly on the other hand is one tough ass chick underneath all the wigs and breasts.
I'm of scottish descent....
I'm going with Cash. Post-fight, Sinatra's connections take out Cash. Post-sentencing for the post-fight, Cash's "Friends at Folsom" take out the guys who took out Cash.
Frank weighed 99 pounds when he was 25. Puh-lease.

Cash would rip him to shreds!
I'd like any input about the "legs" of this piece. Is it the kind of thing that would be fun to see more frequently? Is anyone reading the "points in favor" section? something else you'd like to see that's not there? Just want to hear feedback before I do another one.
Even if Cash won, Sinatra's pack would hunt him down and break his legs so he'd be 5' 8" too. No contest.
I read every word. Cash would be the hands down winner. Guitars don't count as a weapon and all Sinatra had was a cigarette. What's he going to do... stub it out on Cash's arm?

I won't pass judgement on the next episode, although any singer with the name Bush has got to be good at ducking shoes.
Kate Bush Wins...... Perry is a pussy.

(this was fun!)
My money would be on Cash . . . but then, that's why I don't gamble. Looking forward to future matches as well!
Of course Sinatra would win... Cash could have a gentile, trusting nature if talked to in a certain way. Sinatra was charming when he needed to be, beyond anything most people have seen. They would talk, and when Cash's attention strayed to some sentimental story about his folks , or loved ones, Frank would deliver a crashing, orb-splitting kick to Johnny's groin......The Reverend Mr Black would go down....
The format is fine the way it is. I like the quotes between bullet points.
Beth, 15 rounds, no decision. I have to much respect for both of them and probably they for each other.
The Man in Black would win every time. Hell, he is the Man in Black. Spooky~R~
Cash. Cool viciousness beats rage. Amphetamines beat liquor.
Loved this...yes more. Quirky and fun. Could be used to make light of the times, too.

I think Frank would win, too. If it was a fair fight, Cash hands down, as everyone noted. But, as you laid out, nothing is fair with Frank in the room, you needed permission to laugh. He wins...

My favorite line,

"Johnny had hard times in his blood: "Johnny Cash was born in rural, south-central Arkansas, on February 26, 1932." Ouch. That's got to hurt."

Me? I would like to see Hillary and Sarah. I almost choked when she used Hillary's success in her first speech to all of America for pushing the glass ceiling. I bet Hillary would like to punch her out (and she plays dirty too)!
Gary, you are TOO funny. That's kinda where I was coming from.

I liked the idea that Frank's "friends" could even the score by literally cutting down Cash's size to equal Frank's 5'8.

Persephone, what a breath of fresh air. We must catch up. I'm sure you have tons to talk about.

Buffy, you have his wife's vintage dress? Man oh man, that's pretty damn cool!

More to say but visiting NYC and haven't left apartment all day!
Haha. Funny. I'd put my money on Cash too.
Sinatra hands down. He had the ability to shape shift, which would have confused Cash. Besides Cash didn't like fighting, which was apparent from his black shirt.
No question Sinatra would win if he actually fought. But knowing that he'd have to contend with June afterwards? He'd find a way to smarm his way out of it.

As for Kate and Steve Perry? C'mon whose going to choose Perry? Now Kate vs. Bjork, there's a fight for the AGES. Or Kate vs.Geddy Lee. Or Geddy Lee vs. Nancy Wilson. Or Geddy Lee vs. MADONNA....O.K obviously I'm way too into this, and Canadian.

And BTW Scots are ALWAYS badasses. (And keep up with the erratic bolding. I love that.)
Sinatra's the winner. Anybody who picked Cash doesn't know he really never did serious prison time, was basically a nice guy and bottom line, was a brawler, not a fighter. Frank was all about the fight. Like you. ;) Great post. Please don't hit me.
Dude, I forgot to mention I'm really really glad you didn't include OS people in this exercise....
I want to see Glenn Beck and James Carville go at it mano a mano. oooh that would be snarly.
Celebrity Death-Match, the Literary Edition

I like it, but I think Cash would've whupped some ass
I say Johnny Cash. He's 6'2''

I love it - read every word! I was betting on Cash, but your arguments are persuasive. yes, more!
Apropos to nothing, my mother called me after ANS died: "Did you know Anna Nicole Smith died? You're the same age." Stunned silence. Where do the comparisons end?!
I love the mug shots. You are dealing with two hard guys here -- so the hypothetical has something to carry it. Steve Perry and Kate Bush? If it were anyone else writing it, I would say it was hopeless.
I'm a Scot. We're not ALL badasses, but we can sure talk a good game. Last time I was in an actual fist fight, over 30 years ago, was outside the stage door of a Link Wray show in Edinburgh. Well it was a Robert Gordon show, but Link was playing. Imagine that, my last rumble, a true rumble with nine or ten people involved, and me taking a swing at, and missing, one of our guys I didn't know, and the guy who wrote "Rumble" was right inside that door tuning up!

Scots are inveter
I'm a Scot. We're not ALL badasses, but we can sure talk a good game. Last time I was in an actual fist fight, over 30 years ago, was outside the stage door of a Link Wray show in Edinburgh. Well it was a Robert Gordon show, but Link was playing. Imagine that, my last rumble, a true rumble with nine or ten people involved, and me taking a swing at, and missing, one of our guys I didn't know, and the guy who wrote "Rumble" was right inside that door tuning up!

Scots are inveter
I'm a Scot. We're not ALL badasses, but we can sure talk a good game. Last time I was in an actual fist fight, over 30 years ago, was outside the stage door of a Link Wray show in Edinburgh. Well it was a Robert Gordon show, but Link was playing. Imagine that, my last rumble, a true rumble with nine or ten people involved, and me taking a swing at, and missing, one of our guys I didn't know, and the guy who wrote "Rumble" was right inside that door tuning up!

Scots are inveter
Jeez, I was typing "Scots are inveterate namedroppers as well as badasses..." when the comment submitted itself.
Kate Bush is gonna kick his ass. I think the Sinatra/Cash bout would be a draw as they'd both break off and have too many drinks together.
Wow, I think you're right, Beth, and that Sinatra would win the fight. But Johnny might know what a badass he was dealing with and sneak up on Sinatra. Only he would be too honorable to hit Sinatra with a lead pipe behind the knees, so probably it'd be Sinatra either way.

Anyway, this is among your funniest stuff, and I'm having a lot of fun with this thought experiment!
OMG - I just died laughing with Sally's second comment. Indeed, thank you for not including OS people in this exercise, I had about 10 pairings fly into my mind once I read this.

The comments are as great as the read -- great post as usual Beth.
Please. Not Kate Bush. Anybody but Kate Bush.
I read the point in favor section. Since I'm celebrity-challenged it's kind of a tutorial for me. I would read more of these if they of similar people, that is legendary greats of one kind of another that I've heard of.

People largely agree with your results. Cash would win a fair fight, but it won't be a fair fight. I never got Sinatra. Tony Bennet sang better. Sammy Davis was the most talented Rat Packer, Dean Martin was the coolest. The one thing I like Sinatra for is his screen presence. He was a good actor. But really a jerk.

Mother 'effin Cash FTW!

Sinatra was a punk.
So is this going to be a series like World's Deadliest Warriors? Where are the gel bodies? Steve Perry and Kate Bush? I'll be there.
I had my bet on Sinatra right from the start.
Rated- very funny.

You asked for feedback. I liked the concept and the format (points for and against, bullet points). And the photos. All contributed to making it fun and easy to read. Very zippy, Zippy.

Personally I found it hard to get worked up about the two individuals paired, but I'm not American and Cash/Sinatra don't have the same iconic resonance for me. Obviously no one else had the same problem as other posters were very clear in their reflexive responses.

Probably good to go with people who provoke a strong love 'em or hate 'em response in readers- I liked the Kate Bush/Bjork and Hillary/Sarah ideas. Also how about some figures from the past and their modern counterparts- George Clooney/Cary Grant, Kennedy/Obama, or an older younger pair- Madonna/Lady Gaga? Or something really random like Dick Cheney and Miley Cyrus.
Cash, definitely Cash, he's got to outweigh Sinatra by at least 50 lbs, and has longer arm reach
Fight & mean don't matter when someone is that much bigger than you.

Kate Bush is gorgeous. She gives me goose-pimples.
I am going to hold off voting for now, but fyi, I am sooo voting for Kate Bush next week.

I love it!
This was GREAT. I was going to read it, but then, hmm and wow! I have to say Cash would win, due to his size, but Sinatra would win due to his goons.
I love them both: Franks' "Summer Wind" ohhh
Cash's last song "Hurt" the cover from Nine Inch Nails, blew me the fuck away.
I love the mug shots. haaa OOhh bad boys.
Very creative and enertaining. Yippee. I'm going to read it again.
For the next round up: Kate Bush and Steve Perry?
I agree with a couple of people that said Marylin Monroe and Anna Nicole Smith. Just a thought.
Thanks for a most enjoyable read.
much thanks from essay help service
I understand the grit from being born poor in south central Arkansas .. . beats New Jersey or whatever Yankee state Sinatra was born in any time.
Great piece. I'm gonna hang out in Kate Bush's corner for the next fight. In the mid-90s Steve Perry was the first person I ever fetched a coffee for in the biz. He's got soft hands and an even softer handshake. Kate will no doubt bitch-slap him into eternity.
This is the most awesome thing I've seen in quite some time. It's simply brilliant in its entirety, but I particularly loved these two things:

Sinatra's line, "Never fight a Jew in the desert." Timeless; uncanny.

Your line, "Sinatra [was] ruthless and soulless with brawling in his blood," (my emphasis) is so true, it brought me over to your side after thinking on my own that Cash would win this fight.
June Carter Cash could whup Sinatra. So there.
A very interesting match-up Beth, and nicely rendered. However, if you really want to see Sinatra in action, so to speak, I've included a chunk of Gay Talese's classic portrait from the early '60s called "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold." It's an early example of what came to be called "The New Journalism," and it still works. I've trimmed it a bit for brevity's sake. Sinatra's opponent is the superb and highly self-regarding sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison:

" The room cracked with the clack of billiard balls. There were about a dozen spectators in the room, most of them young men who were watching Leo Durocher shoot against two other aspiring hustlers who were not very good. This private drinking club has among its membership many actors, directors, writers, models, nearly all of them a good deal younger than Sinatra or Durocher and much more casual in the way they dress for the evening. Many of the young women, their long hair flowing loosely below their shoulders, wore tight, fannyfitting Jax pants and very expensive sweaters; and a few of the young men wore blue or green velour shirts with high collars, and narrow tight pants and Italian loafers.

It was obvious from the way Sinatra looked at these people in the poolroom that they were not his style, but he leaned back against a high stool that was against the wall, holding his drink in his right hand, and said nothing, just watched Durocher slam the billiard balls back and forth. The younger men in the room, accustomed to seeing Sinatra at this club, treated him without deference, although they said nothing offensive. They were a very cool young group, very California-cool and causal, and one of the coolest seemed to be a little guy, very quick of movement, who had a sharp profile, pale blue eyes, light brown hair and squared eyeglasses. He wore a pair of brown corduroy slacks, a green shaggy-dog Shetland sweater, a tan suede jacket, and Game Warden boots, for which he had recently paid $60.

Frank Sinatra, leaning against the stool, sniffing a bit from his cold, could not take his eyes off the Game Warden boots. Once, after gazing at them for a few moments, he turned away; but now he was focused on them again. The owner of the boots, who was just standing in them watching the pool game, was named Harlan Ellison, a writer who had just completed work on a screenplay, "The Oscar."

Finally, Sinatra could not contain himself.

"Hey," he yelled in his slightly harsh voice that still had a soft, sharp edge. "Those Italian boots?"

"No." Ellison said.



"Are they English boots?"

"Look, I dunno, man," Ellison shot back, frowning at Sinatra, then turning away again.

Now the poolroom was suddenly silent. Leo Durocher, who had been poised behind his cue stick and was bent low, just froze in that position for a second. Nobody moved. Then Sinatra moved away from the stool and walked with that slow, arrogant swagger of his toward Ellison, the hard tap of Sinatra's shoes the only sound in the room. Then, looking down at Ellison with a slightly raised eyebrow and a tricky little smile, Sinatra asked: "You expecting a storm?"

Harlan Ellison moved a step to the side. "Look, is there any reason why you're talking to me?"

"I don't like the way you're dressed," Sinatra said.

"Hate to shake you up," Ellison said, "but I dressed to suit myself."

Now there was some rumbling in the room, and somebody said "Com'on, Harlan, let's get out of here," and Leo Durocher made his pool shot and said, "Yeah, com'on."

But Ellison stood his ground.

Sinatra said, "What do you do?"

"I'm a plumber," Ellison said.

"No, he's not," another young man quickly yelled from across the table, "He wrote 'The Oscar.'"

"Oh, yeah," Sinatra said, "well I've seen it, and it's a piece of crap."

"That's strange," Ellison said, "because they haven't even released it yet."

"Well, I've seen it," Sinatra repeated, "and it's a piece of crap."

...The whole scene was becoming ridiculous, and it seemed that Sinatra was only half-serious, perhaps just reacting out of sheer boredom or inner despair; at any rate, after a few more exchanges, Harlan Ellison left the room. By this time, the word had gotten out to those on the dance floor about the Sinatra-Ellison exchange, and somebody went to look for the manager of the club. But somebody else said that the manager had already heard about it -- and had quickly gone out of the door, hopped in his car and drove home. So the assistant manager went into the poolroom.

"I don't want anybody in here without coats and ties," Sinatra snapped.

The assistant manager nodded, and walked back to his office."

I'd say Sinatra was a punk. You can take the kid out of Jersey.... But he was right about one thing: "The Oscar" WAS a piece of crap.
Great hilarious read as always Beth. :-)

However, I figured that next weeks fight would be between Kate Bush and Tori Amos. Either way, she can kick both of their asses at the same time. Her first record was called 'The Kick Inside'... think about it.
Fun piece--one slight correction though. You say that:

"•Cash was Southern and Southern people like to kick ass. "

Take it from somebody who's lived most of his adult life in North Carolina and Kentucky, white Southerners like Johnny Cash talk about kicking ass a lot, but don't kick much. Quick! Think of a great, white boxer from the South. I can't think of any.

On another topic. My comment on your Heathlike article was way off base and I got righteously slammed by my wife when I explained the whole thing. Sorry about that.
Just got back from NYC all, so sorry to be behind on the comments. So much wonderful material to read upon my return. Thank you.

Jeremiah, thanks for that excerpt. I read that Talese book myself and remember that story!

Princess Fiona, it's lovely to hear from you. I want a life update at some point when you get a moment. I miss your presence. And thank you for being such a detailed review of the piece. I've been toying around with more marketable ideas that I could move quickly as a book and I thought there's some built-in appeal to something like that. You know, a kitschy, fun and quick book.

Loads more to say but just got home.
I vote for Cash. He had the stick-to-it-iveness that leads to winning fights. Did you SEE how that man waited around for June to become free so's he could marry her? Man is stubborn. Man is hardheaded. Man fights for what he wants and wins.

Also, it sounds great, don't it: My money is on Cash.
Your mind is a mesmerizing place. I wouldn't visit it without a bottle of wine and a firearm for protection.
This was such a fun read. Smarmy Sinatra, you're right. I don't know who Kate Bush is though...but will find out before the next one. Very funny, Beth. Rated

You should DEFINITELY do a book. I will PM you with some thoughts on this and personal news.
by the way, Perry vs. Bush is an awesomely hilarious idea, though this is what I'd call a foregone conclusion.

Cyndi Lauper vs. Johnny Depp -that's the smackdown I want to see.
I think Sinatra was a fake. Johnny was real.