Barbara Sinatra, a philanthropist, former model and wife of Frank Sinatra, died on Tuesday at her home in Rancho Mirage, California, of natural causes. She was 90.
Sinatra was “comfortably surrounded by family and friends” at the time of her death, according to a statement provided to HuffPost by John Thoresen, director of the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center.
Sinatra, née Blakeley, was born in Bosworth, Missouri, in 1927. She moved to Long Beach, California, at the age of 18, married Robert Oliver, and began her modeling career. Barbara would later divorce Oliver and marry Zeppo Marx, the youngest of the famous Marx Brothers, in 1959.
The former model was actually Frank Sinatra’s next door neighbor in Palm Springs and still married to Marx when her romance started with the singer, according to a 2011 interview with ABC News. After divorcing Marx, Barbara and Frank were married in 1976 and remained together until Frank died in 1998.
Barbara told ABC News she wasn’t sure exactly how she and Frank managed to stay in love for 22 years, but she recalled his kindness, generosity and, of course, his famous blue eyes.
The pair’s relationship was chronicled in Barbara’s book, Lady Blue Eyes: My Life with Frank.
Literary agent Alan Nevins said in a statement, “I am so saddened by this news. Working with Barbara was one of the high points of my book career. She was such a joy to work with and never ceased to be humorous throughout the process.”
During her lifetime, Barbara was known for her philanthropy. She and her husband started the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center in 1986 to provide services for abused and neglected children. According to the center’s website, around 700 children receive counseling annually. More than 20,000 children have reportedly received help there.
Sinatra is survived by her son Robert Oliver Marx, his wife Hillary Roberts and Sinatra’s granddaughter Carina Blakeley Marx.
This story has been updated to include a statement from literary agent Alan Nevins.