Did Frank Sinatra Keep the Manchurian Candidate Under Wraps After the Kennedy Assassination?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Frank Sinatra kept the Manchurian Candidate under wraps for years in the wake of the Kennedy Assassination.

The Manchurian Candidate is about a United States soldier (played by Lawrence Harvey) who is brainwashed in an attempt to get him to assassinate a Presidential candidate, allowing the Vice-Presidential candidate (who is controlled by the Communists) to take over control of the party and run the United States FOR the Communists (and be the “Manchurian Candidate” that the title refers to).

Frank Sinatra plays a fellow soldier who does his best to stop this plan. Angela Lansbury is magnificent as the evil mother of Harvey.


The film was released in October of 1962.

A little more than one year later, the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated.

It has long been said that Frank Sinatra got a hold of the film rights and then squashed the film until the late 1980s in honor of the President. In fact, it was said that he got the rights specifically TO squash the film.

However, that’s not the case.

Sinatra got the rights to the film in 1972, and in later years, he claimed that the film’s delay in getting a re-release was due to the fact that he did not even know he OWNED the rights to the film. Said Sinatra, “I didn’t know we owned the rights. Whoever was working for me apparently made a pretty good deal.”

In any event, the story is not true, as the film appeared on network television TWICE after Sinatra purchased it, once in 1974 and once in 1975.

It also appeared two times during the 1960s after Kennedy’s assassination, for those people who believe that it was pulled from TV after Kennedy’s assassination even before Sinatra got a hold of it.

The legend is…


Thanks to Tom Santopietro’s great book, Sinatra in Hollywood, for the Sinatra quote.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

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