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The Real Reason A 70-Year-Old Frank Sinatra Was Offered Die Hard’s Lead Role

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Of course, Sinatra was a well-known and well-loved actor in addition to singer, making his onscreen debut with two films in 1943, “Reveille With Beverley” and “Higher and Higher” (per Biography). By 1954, he’d won a best supporting actor Academy Award for his role as Private Angelo Maggio in “From Here To Eternity,” and he went on to receive a second nomination for 1955’s “The Man With The Golden Arm.” Sinatra stared in a wide variety of movies, including “The Manchurian Candidate” and “Ocean’s Eleven.” 

Among his many roles was that of Detective Joe Leland in the 1968 film “The Detective.” Per the trailer, available on YouTube, it offered “an adult look at a police detective” and was based on the best-selling novel “The Detective,” published in 1966 by writer Roderick Thorp. Film critic Roger Ebert praised Sinatra’s performance in his review of the movie, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times (posted on his personal website) that the actor was “weary and wise and tough and cynical in the way Bogart used to be, and indeed he is probably better at these hard-boiled roles than anyone since Bogart died.” Thorp wrote a follow up to “The Detective” called “Nothing Lasts Forever.” While it was not a direct sequel, it featured the same lead character, as reported by NME. Nearly two decades later, “Nothing Lasts Forever” was the inspiration for the “Die Hard” screenplay, although Joe Leland was given a new name in this version — John McClane. 

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