Sammy Davis Jr. Bio, Age, Family, Wife, Children, Death, Funeral, Net Worth

Sammy Davis Jr Biography

Samuel George Davis Jr. was an American singer, musician, dancer, actor, vaudevillian, comedian, and activist noted for his impressions of actors, musicians, and other celebrities.

At the age of three, Davis Jr. began his career in vaudeville with his father, Sammy Davis Sr. and the Will Mastin Trio, which toured nationally. He encountered virulent racial prejudice early in his career, but he endured to become one of the first African American stars to achieve wide popularity.

Sammy Davis Jr Movies

Along with his extremely successful nightclub career, Davis was a popular recording artist, and he was successful on Broadway in Mr.

Wonderful (1956) and in a 1964 revival of Clifford Odets’s Golden Boy and in films, including Porgy and Bess (1959) and Sweet Charity (1969).

Sammy Davis Jr
Sammy Davis Jr

He also appeared in a series of motion pictures with friends such as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, including Ocean’s Eleven (1960), Sergeants 3 (1962), and Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964). Davis wrote two autobiographical books, Yes I Can (1965) and Why Me? (1989).

Sammy Davis Jr Eye

Davis nearly died in an automobile accident on November 19, 1954, in San Bernardino, California, as he was making a return trip from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. During the previous year, he had started a friendship with comedian and host Eddie Cantor, who had given him a mezuzah.

Instead of putting it by his door as a traditional blessing, Davis wore it around his neck for good luck. The only time he forgot it was the night of the accident. The accident occurred at a fork in U.S. Route 66 at Cajon Boulevard and Kendall Drive (34.2072°N 117.3855°W).

Davis lost his left eye to the bullet-shaped horn button (a standard feature in 1954 and 1955 Cadillacs) as a result. His friend, actor Jeff Chandler, said he would give one of his own eyes if it would keep Davis from total blindness. Davis wore an eye patch for at least six months following the accident. He was featured with the patch on the cover of his debut album and appeared on What’s My Line? wearing the patch. Later, he was fitted for a glass eye, which he wore for the rest of his life.

Sammy Davis Jr Death

In August 1989, Davis began to develop symptoms—a tickle in his throat and an inability to taste the food. Doctors found a cancerous tumor in Davis’s throat. He had often smoked four packs of cigarettes a day as an adult. When told that surgery laryngectomy offered him the best chance of survival, Davis replied he would rather keep his voice than have a part of his throat removed. He was initially treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.

His larynx was later removed when his cancer recurred. He was released from the hospital on March 13, 1990. Davis died of complications from throat cancer two months later at his home in Beverly Hills, California, on May 16, 1990, at the age of 64.

Sammy Davis Jr. Funeral Sinatra

It was one of Hollywood’s most lavish funerals, Sammy Davis Jr. was eulogized as ‘the greatest entertainer who ever lived. And a quintessential showman who blazed the way for other black performers. The ceremonies, open to the public, evoked both tears and laughter from those inside the hall and thousands more who gathered outside.

Some of Hollywood’s biggest names turned out to pay their last respects to Davis, who died early Wednesday of throat cancer. Those in attendance included Stevie Wonder, Ben Vereen, Robert Guillaume, Milton Berle, Angie Dickinson, Ricardo Montalban, Dick Gregory, Little Richard, Berry Gordy, Lionel Ritchie, Robert Wagner, Jill St. John, Robert Culp, and Hugh Hefner.

He was buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park. On May 18, 1990, two days after his death, the neon lights of the Las Vegas Strip were darkened for ten minutes as a tribute.

Sammy Davis Jr Age

Davis was born on December 8, 1925, in the Harlem section of Manhattan in New York City.

Sammy Davis Jr Parents

His father was an African-American entertainer and stage performer, Sammy Davis Sr. 1900–1988, and Puerto Rican tap dancer Elvera Sanchez 1905–2000. During his lifetime, Davis stated that his mother was Puerto Rican and born in San Juan.

However, in the 2003 biography In Black and White, author Wil Haygood writes that Davis’ mother was born in New York City to parents of Cuban including Afro-Cuban]and African-American descent, and that Davis claimed he was Puerto Rican because he feared anti-Cuban backlash would hurt his record sales.

Davis’ parents were vaudeville dancers. As an infant, he was reared by his paternal grandmother. His parents separated When he was three years old. His father, not wanting to lose custody of his son, took him on tour.

Sammy Davis Jr Wife

In 1957, Davis was involved with actress Kim Novak, who was under contract with Columbia Pictures. Because Novak was white, Harry Cohn, the president of Columbia, worried that racist backlash against the relationship could hurt the studio. He called his handler, mafia fixer, and racketeer John Roselli, who was told to inform Davis that he must stop seeing Novak.

To try to scare Davis, Roselli had him kidnapped for a few hours. Davis’ brief marriage to black dancer Loray White in 1958 was an attempt to quiet the controversy. A BBC documentary in 2014 said that Cohn arranged for Davis to be threatened with the loss of his other eye or a broken leg if he didn’t marry a black woman within two days.

Davis had offered to pay White $10,000 to enter into a fake marriage. At the wedding with White, Davis became so inebriated that he had to be helped to bed by his friend Arthur Silber. Checking on him later, Silber found Davis with a gun to his head.

In 1960, Davis caused controversy again when he married white, Swedish-born actress May Britt in a ceremony officiated by Rabbi William M. Kramer at Temple Israel of Hollywood. While interracial marriage had been legal in California since 1948, anti-miscegenation laws in the United States still stood in 23 states, and a 1958 opinion poll had found that only 4 percent of Americans supported marriage between black and white spouses.

Davis received hate mail while starring in the Broadway adaptation of Golden Boy during 1964–1966, in which his character is in a relationship with a white woman, paralleling his own controversial relationship.

Sammy Davis Jr Children

Davis and Britt had one daughter, Tracey, and adopted two sons. Davis performed almost continuously and spent little time with his wife. They divorced in 1968 after Davis admitted to having had an affair with singer Lola Falana. That year, Davis started dating Altovise Gore, a dancer in Golden Boy.

They were married on May 11, 1970, by the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Kathy McKee replaced Gore in Davis’ nightclub act. They adopted a son, Manny, in 1989. Davis and Gore remained married until his death in 1990.

Sammy Davis Jr Net Worth

He died with a net worth of $5 million.

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