Sammy Davis Jr.

Musician, Actor, Dancer, Comedian, Legend

Who Is Sammy Davis Jr.?

Sammy Davis Jr. was an American comedian, actor, musician, and a legend in show business. He acted and sung with famous stars like Frank Sinatra and Joey Bishop. But he also used his fame to promote equality and civil rights for blacks in the United States. Sammy died late in the 1900's leaving behind a legacy that would last a lifetime both in music, movies, and dancing as well as the lives of African Americans throughout the nation.

Young & Talented

Sammy Davis Jr., born in 1925, grew up around music, both his parents being dancers. However, he was raised by his grandmother till he went to live with his father and grandfather after his parents separated. Both were in a dancing group. Davis took the stage at a young age, showing off his now-famous tap dancing and singing skills. Later on, as he grew older, he formed a singing group with his father and grandfather called the Will Mastin Trio. All that changed when he was drafted in the army.
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Big Break

Sammy Davis was not a fighter in World War 2. He was part of the entertainment unit. He was being "Abused and harassed by white soldiers". His nose was even broken once by a fellow officer. However, when he sung and dance onstage it gave him "A desire to earn even a hateful audience member's love.". When Davis was released from duty he went solo and released two albums, one by the name of "Starring Sammy Davis Jr." The albums topped the charts and he became a hit. His music was fun, popular, and unique from other artists.

The Accident That Changed His Heart

In November of 1954, Sammy Davis Jr. was in a car crash that shook his world. His face had been severely damaged and his left eye was ruined. In fact, he would use a glass eye for the remainder of his life. But the horrible accident was also an opportunity to use his fame for good. He conversed with a rabbi in the hospital and noticed the likenesses between the segregation and oppression of blacks in the U.S. and in Jewish beliefs. This not only converted Davis to Judaism, but he understood then that he needed to use his fame to promote civil rights. Sammy Davis continued on to march with MLK Jr., and even married white actress, May Britt, even though interracial marriages were illegal in 31 states. He even refused to play in segregated buildings, changing the way many ran their businesses. Davis made a big difference in the time period he lived in for people around the nation

The Best Times Of His Life

Davis became especially popular in the late '50's and '60's. He joined the famous Rat Pack, formed of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop. He became famous for movies such as Porgy and Bess, Anna Lucasta and Oceans 2 as well as songs like "Candyman" and "What Kind Of Fool Am I?" As a Broadway Davis performed in both "Golden Boy" and "Mr. Wonderful." He continued to be a civil rights activist throughout his life and eventually married 3 times, once to Lordy White, once to May Britt, and once to Altovise Gore, with whom he shared the last of his life with. He had 3 adopted sons and one daughter. He was nominated for a Grammy and won a Tony once. Davis wasn't aware, yet, of the things he would face in the coming 10 years.

The Decline

Davis became less popular in the 1970's. During this time, he wrote autobiographies and had and starred on several talk shows. He mostly performed in casinos at this time. However, he also became addicted to alcohol and gambling, as well as being a full-time smoker. He wasted millions of dollars, betting in the casinos he performed in. In 1989 his doctors found a tumour in his throat: Davis had throat cancer from smoking. On May 16th, 1990, in Beverly Hills, Davis died in his home. The nation mourned the precious talent that had been lost. His last movie was Tap and his last ever performance was at Harrah's Casino in Tahoe.

The Legacy

Sammy Davis Jr. wasn't just a talented dancer, musician, actor, and comedian, he was a person who left behind a legacy of how African Americans were affected in this country. He fought against racism and segregation and inspired others to do the same. Davis was a performer, a civil rights activist, and a legend. He has forever left his mark on this country.