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"I am a jukebox collector and vendor. I have been collecting and
installing jukeboxes for over 25 years. About a year ago, a friend of
a friend of a friend called. They had a jukebox sitting in the living
room that they were storing for yet another friend and wanted it out of
there. After talking, we figured out that it was a Seeburg Library
System. These units were used primarily for background music in
department stores, hotels, factories, etc. They played 78 RPM
records and were built between 1948 and 1953. The rich and
famous also purchased these for the home. They cost $1,500 new in
1948 - that would be like buying a $30,000 sound system today!
I met with the owner and a deal was struck. I located six strong
laborers; they picked up the Seeburg, carried it across the tile floor
and set it on my truck. I dropped off the laborers and returned to the
home to thank the seller and to pick-up my wife (she had stayed
behind because there was no room left in the truck with me, six
laborers and the Seeburg).
When I returned, the seller said that there were some records and
books that went with the machine. I almost didn’t take them. I have
plenty of records, but I decided “what the heck” so we loaded the
records and sleeve books in the back seat and listened to a story of
how he received this jukebox from his mother’s estate after she
passed away. He told us his mother had received the jukebox from
her good friend Marie “The Body” McDonald, a Hollywood actress,
who supposedly got it from Frank Sinatra. Oh well, it made for a
We took the machine home and set it in the garage. I kept thinking
about that Frank Sinatra story, it all just sounded too true. I emailed
Nancy Sinatra’s website and asked if she had ever seen this
machine. She replied, “No, but if you want to sell it, let me know”.
Well, that raised a red flag in my mind! I went to bed and forgot
about it until about two o’clock that morning. I woke up, went to the
garage, and started inspecting the jukebox. I have no clue what
made me do that, but I just knew there had to be more to that Sinatra
story. I opened the back of the jukebox looking for paperwork or
anything that could tie this jukebox back to Frank. I found nothing
inside, so I started looking at the record sleeve books (the jukebox
has a built-in shelf at the base for storing these books) they all said
“Seeburg” and were labeled Volumes 1 through 12. The books
were filled with records and on the front page of each book was an
index that told which records were in that book.
The indexes were filled out in Frank Sinatra’s own handwriting and
printing (I found samples of his writing on the internet). I knew when
I compared the “S’s” and “T’s” that it had to be him...Bingo! Oh Boy, I
felt like I had just won the lottery. I emailed Nancy back with a
couple of pictures of the jukebox and told her about the indexes.
She replied, “OK, how much?”…I never got back to her.
I took digital pictures of the handwriting and sent them to a
handwriting expert in Florida who had written articles on Mr. Sinatra’s
handwriting. He confirmed that some of the handwriting was
definitely from Frank Sinatra. What’s more, he also found that some
handwriting might be from Bing Crosby! There was also some other
handwriting that looked like it was from a woman (possibly Marie
“The Body” McDonald?). He verified his findings in writing.
I had the amp and the mechanical part of the jukebox rebuilt and
organized the records. It sounds great and I feel like Frank is
listening with me. The best part of this Seeburg Library Unit is
watching it pick-up records and all of the mechanical movements
that happen when you turn it on. When we hear the music, it feels
like Frank is standing with us."
• Story contributed by Mike Pearlman, Los Angles Jukebox
|Nancy, Marie, Bing and Frank
Seeburg Library Unit