Framework

A Rat Pack retrospective

The plot was simple: rob multiple Las Vegas casinos simultaneously. But, of course, a couple of  wrinkles occur and the plan goes “poof.”  The movie “Ocean’s 11” is considered the classic Rat Pack flick.

In celebration of the film’s 50th anniversary, LIFE.com has posted 25 never-before-seen Rat Pack images.

“Forget the movie, let’s pull the job!” Frank Sinatra joked when told of the movie’s plot.

The 1960 version of “Ocean’s 11,” featuring Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop,  ended completely different than the 2001 remake. To avoid a spoiler alert, let’s just say the Rat Pack got burned.

From the LIFE.com news release:  “Just like their characters (in ‘Ocean’s 11’), they loved a good caper. From the late ’50s until they began to splinter apart in the mid-’60s, they were showbiz’s kings of swing. … LIFE’s photographers, of course, trailed the various members of the Pack through those magic years, coming away with the material for some of the best celebrity photo essays the magazine ever ran.”

Thousands of the images from the Rat Pack coverage remained unpublished. From those images LIFE.com built the new photo gallery, which prominently features Sammy Davis Jr.

From the LIFE.com captions: “Sammy laughs over dinner with his then-wife, Swedish actress May Britt. Their interracial union threatened to derail his career, but Sammy’s fellow Rat Packers were staunch supporters: Sinatra was best man at the wedding, and Lawford was an usher.

“Though he often joked about his race, Sammy … was a serious, high-profile civil rights activist, and his refusal to play segregated venues helped lead to the integration of Miami nightclubs and Vegas casinos.”

Enjoy the flashback.

Photos: (from top) Dean Martin adjusts his cufflinks backstage before a 1958 performance in Las Vegas. Credit: Allan Grant / TIME & LIFE Pictures

Sammy Davis Jr. rehearses for his high-stakes 1964 Broadway debut in “Golden Boy.” Credit: Leonard McCombe / TIME & LIFE Pictures

In 1964, Frank Sinatra savors a couple of vices backstage at the Sands Hotel and Casino, where he swung with the Count Basie Band. Out of that landmark collaboration came the legendary live album “Sinatra at the Sands.” Credit: John Dominis / TIME & LIFE Pictures