WHEN Tom Burlinson was a toddler in the late 1950s, he would point to his mum�s Frank Sinatra record and insist she play it.
�Let�s hear the man in the hat,� the youngster bellowed.
Although a fan at three, he never guessed his career would one day centre on �ol� blue eyes� himself.
Best known as �The Man from Snowy River� after starring in the 1982 film, Burlinson now makes his primary living singing the songs of the legendary crooner.
�There was something about Sinatra, the music and songs that grabbed me from a very young age,� the Sydneysider said.
�I was a child from The Beatles generation so more modern music captured my imagination as I grew up but then I rediscovered Frank�s very first album in my late teens and fell in love with it all over again.
�I would sing along and found there was a natural similarity in the range and tone of our voices. Because I loved the style, I made a study of it � where he breathed and how long he held notes � but when I sang it was just for my own enjoyment.�
Burlinson followed the path of a young actor and didn�t reveal his vocal ability until 1991, with the help of Sinatra�s daughter Tina.
�I had written a song called The Man in the Hat about Frank�s effect on my life and sang it on The Midday Show.
�Then I heard about the miniseries, Sinatra, produced by Tina and wanted to be considered to play the role of Frank.
�I knew it was a long shot but they sent me audition scenes and we recorded them, and at the end I put me singing The Man in the Hat.�
Burlinson said Tina cast another actor as Frank but needed someone to sing his voice as a young man.
�I flew to LA and sang to her and she offered me the job � I wasn�t a professional singer so I was absolutely pinching myself,� he said.
�Then it became known in Australia that The Man from Snowy River could not only sing, but sounded like Sinatra, so that led to me performing in stage musicals and eventually to creating my own show about
Sinatra in 1998.
Now Burlinson is performing classic live album, Sinatra at the Sands.
�I�m not pretending to be Frank but there is a fine line there,� he said.
�Some of the performance, attitude and skill come out because it goes with the territory but I have my own emotional connection with the material.
�I�m never saying that I�m as good as Sinatra, although it has been gratifying over the years to hear people say: �I closed my eyes and Frank was still alive.��
What: Tom Burlinson performs Sinatra at the Sands
Where: Crown Theatre Perth
When: October 17