It couldn’t have been more of a Maxine Mesinger item if it had contained the words “Vallone” and “de Portanova.” On October 15, 54-year-old Frank Sinatra, Jr.—famous for being a bandleader, and even more so for being somebody’s kid—wed 45-year-old attorney Cynthia McMurrey of Wharton. In taking the plunge Sinatra joined an estimable list of celebrities who might say they weren’t born a Texan but married one as fast as they could; rock-and-roller Mick Jagger and billionaire techie Bill Gates also have Lone Star spouses, though presumably neither spent the past two years defending a Bosnian war criminal, as McMurrey did.
According to McMurrey, a soft-spoken Carolyn Farb look-alike, she and Sinatra met at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas in the summer of 1992. “My mom and I had just gone to see Harry Connick, Jr.,” she recalls, “and then we went to see Frank perform. I was sitting down front, and the whole time, he kept looking at my hands—at the fact that I wasn’t wearing a ring.” After the show, she introduced herself, and he asked her out for that night. “It was really so romantic. We were talking in the casino coffee shop, and he must have stuck a note in the cuff of my jacket. I didn’t know it was there until I got back to my room, and he called to ask if I’d found it. It said ‘I wish you were here.’” They went out again the next night and the night after that. Then McMurrey flew home to Houston—but before her plane landed, a message was already on her answering machine: Come back to Vegas next weekend.
For the next six and a half years, Sinatra and McMurrey endured a long-distance relationship. Then, at the end of September, he proposed. They had originally planned to exchange vows on Sunday, October 18, but the Thursday before, when they went to pick up their marriage license at the Wharton County courthouse, Sinatra decided he wanted to do it there and then. District judge Daniel Skalar performed the ceremony. “I had no warning,” McMurrey says. “I was in jeans, and my hair was in a ponytail.”
Three days later, at the Wharton home of her parents, Wanda and Clinton White, McMurrey and Sinatra went through it all again, this time before Brazoria County district judge Ogden Bass and some thirty members of the bride’s family, including her three daughters. (Brutal weather kept one Sinatra invitee—his sister, Nancy—from flying into Houston; apparently her boots aren’t made for walking through floodwaters.) McMurrey wore a Christos gown of ivory silk that she’d purchased at the Houston bridal salon I Do, I Do. After the service, guests munched on kappamaki sushi and other hors d’oeuvres prepared by caterer Vanessa Scoggin. They then repaired to Brennan’s restaurant in Houston for beef tenderloin and pecan-crusted snapper.
The next Wednesday husband and wife flew to Columbus, Ohio, where Frank had a gig. Then they went their separate ways until early November, when Nancy threw a party for them at her home in Los Angeles. (Confidential to Liz Smith: See, she does too approve.) Finally, on November 9, the happy couple took off on a two-day honeymoon to an undisclosed location before returning home to…where? Start spreading the news: They’ve decided to keep McMurrey’s place in Wharton—and they plan to spend at least half their time there.