Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May 16: Sammy Davis Jr., died on this date in 1990...

... he was 64-years old-when he passed away. 

Born in Harlem, New York, Davis's parents were vaudeville dancers. At the age of three Davis began his career in vaudeville with his father and "uncle" as the Will Mastin Trio, toured nationally, and after military service, returned to the trio.

Will Mastin Trio

Davis became an overnight sensation following a nightclub performance at Ciro's after the 1951 Academy Awards, with the trio, became a recording artist, and made his first film performances as an adult later that decade.

He lost his left eye in a car accident in 1954.  He appeared in the first Rat Pack movie, Ocean's 11, in 1960. After a starring role on Broadway in 1956's Mr. Wonderful, Davis returned to the stage in 1964's Golden Boy, and in 1966 had his own TV variety show, The Sammy Davis Jr. Show.

(Continued below video and Amazon portals ...)

(Press album cover for direct link to the entire Amazon Website):

Definitive CollectionThe Very Best Of The Rat PackAt the Cocoanut Grove (Dlx)Yes I Can: The Story of Sammy Davis, Jr.

Davis was awarded the Spingarn Medal by the NAACP, and was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award for his television performances. He was the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 1987, and in 2001, he was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 1959, Davis became a member of the famous "Rat Pack," led by his friend Frank Sinatra, which included fellow performers such as Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford, and Shirley MacLaine. Initially, Sinatra called the gathering "the Clan," but Sammy voiced his opposition, saying that it reminded people of the racist Ku Klux Klan. Sinatra renamed the group "the Summit," but the media referred to them as the Rat Pack.

Davis was a headliner at The Frontier Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, but he was required (as were all black performers in the 1950s) to stay in a rooming house on the west side of the city, instead of sleeping in the hotels as his white entertainers did. No dressing rooms were provided for black performers, and they had waited outside by the swimming pool between acts.

Davis's career slowed in the late sixties, but he had a hit record with "I've Gotta Be Me" in 1969, and "The Candy Man," in 1972. Davis toured with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin in 1987, and Liza Minnelli internationally, before dying of throat cancer in 1990.


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