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MAIL BOX: JUST ASK... If there is a question nagging you, write to me at the address above and I will try to help. But, sorry, I cannot reply personally.

SETTLE an argument, what height is the Italian football star Alessandro del Piero. My husband jokes he's so small he needs a step up to sit on the bench. - C. Sneddon, Coatbridge.

# THE midfield ace may look vertically challenged compared to some of the giant defenders in Serie A but the 29-year-old star actually stands 5ft 8in.

HAS there ever been a US President who wasn't Democrat or Republican? - A. McFarlane, Clydebank.

# YES. There were two Federalist Presidents (George Washington and John Adams), four Whigs (William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore) and one who had no party affiliation (John Quincy Adams). Two former presidents changed affiliation after leaving the White House. Millard Fillmore switched from Whig to the American or Know-Nothing party and Theodore Roosevelt went from Republican to the Progressive or Bull Moose Party.

WHY is a rabbit's foot considered lucky? - R. Hall, Glasgow.

# THE lucky rabbit's foot is one of the world's oldest superstitions, dating back to 600 BC. Because hares and rabbits are such prolific breeders, their feet became fertility symbols in a number of cultures.

DOES actor Andy Garcia have a twin? - D.C., Glasgow.

# THE Oceans 11 star was born with a conjoined twin on April 12, 1956, in Cuba. The twin was only the size of a tennis ball and was surgically removed. All that remains is a scar on Andy's shoulder.

HOW did the term blue murder come about? - W.T. Mackay, Edinburgh.

# FIRST recorded in a dictionary of slang in 1859 it seems to be linked toa French oath. When something terrible happened a Frenchman would often curse 'Mort Dieu' (God's death). Over the years this was corrupted to mort bleu (blue death) - hence blue murder. The French phrase sacre bleu has the same source.

DID Frank Sinatra ever play Ibrox Park in Glasgow? - Charles Kelly, Edinburgh.

#WITH a nickname like Ol' Blue Eyes how could Frank resist the lure of the Rangers' stadium? He played there on July 10, 1990. It was the first time Sinatra had performed in Scotland since 1953 when he played in Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh as part of a British tour.

IS there a connection between Sinatra and the group Frankie Goes To Hollywood? - B.E., Stirling. #THE Liverpool-based group who shot to fame with the controversial hit Relax in 1983 were originally called Hollycaust - after lead singer Holly Johnson. They changed their name in 1980 shortly before they went on stage for a gig after spotting an old copy of Variety magazine with the headline Frankie Goes To Hollywood - an article about Sinatra's plans to swap crooning for a film career.

YOU recently answered a question about Paul Drake Jnr. in Perry Mason. The original Paul Drake from the 1950s was played by William Hopper. Any relation to the gossip columnist Hedda Hopper? - S. Russell, Wishaw, Lanarkshire.

#THE legendary columnist was his mother. William DeWold Hopper Jnr. was born in 1915 and died after a bout of pneumonia in 1970.

Hopper was originally cast as lawyer Perry Mason himself with Raymond Burr playing Drake but the roles were switched before filming began in 1957.


Short story: Alessandro; Ol' blue eyes: Sinatra
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 10, 2004
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