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Cubans remember Sinatra with fondness

Sinatra, left, sits beside his second wife Ava Gardner during their 1951 stay at the Hotel Nacional in Havana  
May 16, 1998
Web posted at: 8:09 p.m. EDT (0009 GMT)

From Havana Bureau Chief Lucia Newman

HAVANA (CNN) -- Despite a decades-long Cold War between the United States and Cuba, American singing icon Frank Sinatra was never frozen out of Cuban hearts.

Following the singer's death on Thursday at age 82, Cuba's Radio Taino -- like many U.S. stations -- began a nostalgic tribute.

"He was so romantic, so handsome. In the movies you'd hold hands with your boyfriend because Frank Sinatra was there, singing a beautiful song," one Cuban woman recalled.

Sinatra once stayed at Havana's famous Hotel Nacional. In 1951, he was a guest there with one of the great loves of his life, actress Ava Gardner, when the two were newlyweds. A photo of the couple still hangs in the room where they stayed.

The Cubans' love affair with Sinatra continued even after the island nation turned communist and the United States formally cut off relations. In fact, Cuba's state-run radio and television have been playing Sinatra's music and showing his films for decades.

Sinatra was to be buried in a private service. The family has a plot at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California, near Palm Springs.


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