When Gay Talese couldn't land an interview with Frank Sinatra, he wrote the profile instead by talking to Sinatra's tailor, stylist, valet, and other secondary characters in the pop star's world. The resulting piece for Esquire magazine, "Frank Sinatra Has A Cold," is a classic of New Journalism, which Talese helped pioneer.
"I wanted to be a storyteller," he tells host Alec Baldwin. "I used my imagination to penetrate the personalities, the private lives, of other people."
For more than six decades, those people have included mafia crime bosses, civil activists, literati, prizefighters—and innumerable "normal" characters, with their own secret desires, triumphs, and failings.