Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Valentine From Sammy Davis, Jr.

video
from 1960. I think it is from a television show that was filmed at Hugh Heffner's mansion.
from wikipedia

Samuel George Davis, Jr., better known as Sammy Davis, Jr. (December 8, 1925 – May 16, 1990) was an American entertainer. He was a dancer, singer, multi-instrumentalist (playing vibraphone, trumpet, and drums), impressionist, comedian, and actor. He was a member of the 1960s Rat Pack, which was led by his old friend Frank Sinatra, and included fellow performers Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford.
Davis, Jr. was born in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City, New York to Elvera Sanchez, a dancer, and Sammy Davis, Sr., an African-American entertainer. The couple were both dancers in vaudeville. As an infant, he was raised by his paternal grandmother. When he was three years old, his parents split up. His father, not wanting to lose custody of his son, took him on tour. During his lifetime Sammy Davis, Jr. stated that his mother was Puerto Rican and born in San Juan However, in his 2003 biography In Black and White, author Wil Haygood writes that Elvera Sanchez was not born in Puerto Rico, but instead in New York City, the daughter of Cuban Americans Marco Sanchez and Luisa Aguiar. Haygood, who conducted over 250 interviews for his biography , states that the reason Davis claimed he was Puerto Rican stemmed from fear that anti-Cuban backlash resulting from the Cuban Missile Crisis would hurt his record sales.] The author's claims have never been confirmed by the Davis's immediate family, and therefore continues to remain as speculation.
Davis was a headliner at The Frontier Casino in Las Vegas for many years, yet was required to accept accommodations in a rooming house on the west side of the city, rather than reside with his peers in the hotels, as were all black performers in the 1950s. For example, no stage dressing rooms were provided for black performers, so they were required to wait outside by the swimming pool between acts.[5]
During his early years in Vegas, he and other African-American artists like Nat King Cole and Count Basie could entertain on the stage, but often could not reside at the hotels at which they performed, and most definitely could not gamble in the casinos or go to the hotel restaurants and bars. After he achieved superstar success, Davis refused to work at venues which would practice racial segregation. His demands eventually led to the integration of Miami Beach nightclubs and Las Vegas, Nevada casinos. Davis was particularly proud of this accomplishment.
Although James Brown would claim the title of "Hardest Working Man in Show Business," the argument could be made that Sammy Davis, Jr. deserved it more. For example, in 1964 he was starring in Golden Boy at night and shooting his own New York-based afternoon talk show during the day. When he could get a day off from the theater, he would either be in the studio recording new songs, or else performing live, often at charity benefits as far away as Miami, Chicago and Las Vegas, or doing television variety specials in Los Angeles. Even at the time, Sam knew he was cheating his family of his company, but he couldn't help himself; as he later said, he was incapable of standing still.

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