American radio drama Rocky Fortune stars Frank Sinatra
Also in 1953, Sinatra starred in the NBC radio program Rocky Fortune.
His character, Rocko Fortunato (aka Rocky Fortune) was a private eye who was placed in a variety of odd jobs by the Gridley Employment Agency in order to help solve crimes. The series aired on NBC radio Tuesday nights from October 1953 to March 1954. During the final months of the show, just before the 1954 Oscars, it became a running gag that Sinatra would manage to work the phrase "from here to eternity" into each episode, a reference to his Oscar-nominated performance.
Rocky Fortune was the title of an American radio drama that aired weekly on NBC Radio beginning in October 1953 (see 1953 in radio). The series ended its run in March 1954 after 25 episodes. The program was created by George Lefferts. Frank Sinatra voiced the title role of Rocky Fortune for the duration of the series.
Rocky Fortune aired Tuesday nights on NBC at 9:30pm Eastern, immediately following Dragnet. It was a sustaining series, meaning that NBC presented the program without corporate sponsorship. The premiere episode, "Oyster Shucker", originally aired on October 6, 1953.
Frank Sinatra portrayed Rocco Fortunato, also known as Rocky Fortune, a young man of several talents constantly in need of employment and who accepts odd jobs from the fictitious Gridley Employment Agency., often referred to simply as "the Agency." During the course of the series, he would work as a process server, museum tour guide, cabbie, bodyguard, chauffeur, truck driver, social director for a Catskills resort and a carny, in addition to various musical jobs. These assignments typically led Rocky into situations where he would track down criminals, often rescuing people (especially women) in need of help, and ultimately needing to find yet more work. Rocky made many wise remarks, using "hep" slang of the times, and seemed to attract trouble wherever he went.
Sinatra infused the role of Rocky with a witty, tongue-in-cheek quality that acknowledged Sinatra's own career. For example, in the episode "Football Fix", Rocky begins to sing "I've Got the World on a String" while walking down the street, a song Sinatra had performed prior to playing the role of Rocky.
Aside from Sinatra, the only other recurring role on the series was that of Hamilton J. Finger, a not terribly smart but solid and dependable police sergeant voiced by Barney Phillips. Other guest roles on Rocky Fortune were voiced by actors such as Raymond Burr, Ed Begley and Jack Kruschen.
Creator of the show George Lefferts was also one of the primary scriptwriters, along with Ernest Kinoy. The two had previously collaborated on other radio programs such as X Minus One and Dimension X: in the episode "Rocket Racket", Fortune's job is apparently to fly a prototype spaceship. An eccentric oil millionaire tells of his fascination with science fiction and space travel, to which Rocky knowingly acknowledges, "Dimension X."
Lefferts and Kinoy would go on to become award-winning writers and producers in the years that followed.
Edward "Eddie" King was the show's narrator, who began each episode by stating, "NBC presents Frank Sinatra starring as that footloose and fancy-free young gentleman Rocky Fortune!" (though it was "...footloose and frequently unemployed..." for the first two episodes).
The final episode, "Boarding House Doublecross", aired on March 30, 1954, less than a week after Sinatra won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Private Angelo Maggio in the 1953 film, From Here to Eternity. As a running gag towards the end of the show's run, Sinatra would work the phrase "from here to eternity" into the script as a reference to his film role in almost every episode.
In the days prior to From Here To Eternity, Frank Sinatra's popularity was waning and this private eye show was an attempt to remedy that. In it, Frank played ROCKY FORTUNE, a "footloose and fancy-free young man," frequently unemployed, who took numerous, adventurous odd jobs. It was a relatively undistinguished series; definitely a "B grade" radio series, saved by Sinatra's charm and a tongue-in-cheek approach.
Employed or not, Rocky possesed a variety of skills. During the course of the series, he worked as a process server, museum tour guide, cabbie, bodyguard, chauffeur, truck driver, social director for a Catskills resort and a carny. He could also fake enough bass to play at weddings and bar-mitzvahs. For most of the series, Rocky received his job assignments from the Gridley Employment Agency, usually referred to as just "the agency".
The only recurring character, throughout the series, besides Rocky himself, is the long-suffering Sergeant Hamilton J. Finger - a solid, although not-too-bright cop who works out of what is frequently referred to as "the Irish clubhouse," who seemed to be constantly running into Rocky, whether he wanted to or not