Sammy Davis Jr., the legendary singer, actor, and comedian, will be featured on the next new episode of Unsung Hollywood. Unsung Hollywood brings audiences a different story every week. Last week’s show featured the story of Hollywood hunk Billy Dee Williams. Tonight, viewers will get to hear the story of Sammy Davis Jr.
TV One’s younger audience may not know much about Sammy Davis Jr., other than his popular songs “Candy Man” and “Mr. Bojangles.” But to those who know the history, Sammy Davis Jr., was more than a celebrity entertainer, he was concerned about American politics and even marched alongside Martin Luther King.
Sammy Davis Jr. was born in 1925 in New York City. His father was a black man and his mother was a Puerto Rican dancer. Stepping foot on stage at the age of three, Sammy Davis Jr. became known as the greatest entertainer in the world. What made him stand out among the rest was his ability to please audiences. His electrifying stage performances endeared people to him. They absolutely loved being around Sammy because he made them feel good.
Even more interesting were the intimate Hollywood parties where he regaled audiences with personal stories and funny anecdotes. At a very young age, Sammy Davis Jr. realized that despite all of the racism surrounding him, when he was on stage, it was one of the only times that no one seemed to care about his color. Some critics say that he tried too hard to fit in with white people — that all he wanted to do was be anything other than black. Those who know Sammy Davis Jr. say that nothing could be farther from the truth, and that Sammy cared deeply about black issues. But he did love white women, which caused him some problems with friends who believed that it could put his career in a negative light.
As part of the Rat Pack, Sammy Davis Jr. had a tight relationship with singer Frank Sinatra. Sinatra is the one who is credited for helping Sammy Davis Jr. get Las Vegas gigs in the days when black performers couldn’t stay at the hotels. It was Frank Sinatra who went to the men who ran Las Vegas to tell them how much they were missing out by not allowing Sammy to stay in the lavish hotels. Once Davis started performing, he became a fixture in Vegas.
The relationship between Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. soured over the years. Some who know the story say Sinatra parted ways with Sammy because of his drinking binges. Everyone agrees that they both cared for each other, but that Sammy was left deeply hurt when Sinatra distanced himself from him.
Sadly, Sammy Davis Jr. died at just 64 years old. The cause of death was listed as throat cancer. To get the full story, watch TV One’s #UnsungHollywood tonight at 8/7 central.
To get a sense of the real Sammy Davis Jr., check out the video below.
Frank Sinatra talks about Sammy Davis Jr.’s death
[Photo Credit: Facebook]