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In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr. by Wil HaygoodHe was, for decades, one of the most recognizable figures in the cultural landscape, his image epitomizing a golden age of American show business. His career spanned a lifetime, but for years he has remained hidden behind the persona he so vigorously generated, and so fiercely protected. Now, in this surprising, illuminating, and compulsively readable biography, we are taken beyond the icon, into the extraordinary, singular life of Sammy Davis, Jr.
In scrupulous detail and with stunning powers of evocation, Wil Haygood takes us back to the era of vaudeville, where it all began for four-year-old Sammy who ran out onstage one night and stole the show. From then on it was a motherless childhood on the road, singing and dancing his way across a segregated America with his father and the formidable showman Will Mastin, struggling together to survive the Depression and the demise of vaudeville itself.
With an ambition honed by poverty and an obsessive need for applause, Sammy drove his way into the nightclub circuit of the 1940s and 1950s, when, his father and Mastin aging and out of style, he slowly began to make a name for himself, hustling his way to top billing and eventually to recording contracts. From there, he was to stake his claim on Broadway, in Hollywood, and, of course, in Las Vegas.
Haygood brings Sammy’s showbiz life into full relief against the backdrop of an America in the throes of racial change. Sammy grew up trapped between the worlds of blacks and whites, with so much invested in both. He made his living entertaining white people but was often denied service in the very venues he played. Drafted into a newly integrated U.S. Army in the 1940s, he saw up close the fierce tensions that seethed below the surface. Dragged into the civil rights movement, he witnessed a hatred that often erupted into violence. In his broad and varied friendships and alliances (with Frank Sinatra; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Richard Nixon; Sidney Poitier; Marilyn Monroe, to name just a few), not to mention his romances (his relationship with Kim Novak and his marriage to the blond beauty May Britt drew death threats), he forged uncharted paths across racial lines. Admired and reviled by both blacks and whites, he was tormented all his life by raging insecurities, and never quite came to terms with his own skin. Ultimately, his only true sense of his identity was as a performer.
Based on painstaking research and more than 250 interviews, Wil Haygood brings us a sweeping and vivid cultural history of the twentieth century, chronicling black entertainment from its beginnings and the birth of popular culture as we know it. In Black and White transcends simple biography to become an important record, both celebratory and elegiacal, of a vanished America and its greatest entertainer.
Sammy Davis Jr.-his insecurities, Sinatra as a friend, Sammy's selfishness and more!
Sammy Davis Jr. Miniseries In Works From Lee Daniels & Playtone
Some are tragic, others are straight out of a romance novel, this relationship, in particular, is intriguing for other reasons. The pairing of Sammy Davis Jr. In , a couple of weeks after Kim was finished shooting the greatest movie of all time , Vertigo , she stopped by her hometown of Chicago for a night out at Chez Paree. The entertainment for that night? None other than the very charming Sammy Davis Jr. Eventually, she and Sammy fell into a cordial friendship, which saw them exchange numbers and midnight rendezvous hidden away from the public eye.
Prior to , it was considered career suicide for a white actor to date anyone outside of his or her race. As she sat at the table near the stage, Sammy Davis Jr. Curtis told Davis that he would take care of it, telling him to attend an after-party Curtis was hosting at his home. Curtis then approached her and invited her over. At the party, Davis and Novak were inseparable, spending the entire evening together. It was electric.
By Nellie Andreeva. There have been multiple attempts at a Sammy Davis, Jr. Davis was among the first entertainers to truly cross the white barrier in a racially charged America. By the s, Davis was recording albums and performing on Broadway. It was his love affairs with white actresses such as Kim Novak, however, that threw him into private and public controversies.
Kim Novak was Harry Cohn's revenge on Rita Hayworth. Sammy Davis Jr. was Kim Novak's revenge on Harry Cohn. What began as a boldface.
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In , Sammy Davis Jr. Wonderful on Broadway and had a popular nightclub act with his father and uncle called the Will Mastin Trio. For the rest of his life, he would wear a glass eye. Hollywood starlet Kim Novak certainly noticed him. His friends Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh obliged by inviting both of them to a party at their house. This bit of idle gossip was far from harmless.