Sammy Davis Jr.
Samuel George "Sammy" Davis, Jr. (December 8, 1925 – May 16, 1990) was an American entertainer. Primarily a dancer and singer, he also had many acting roles on stage and screen, and was noted for his impersonations of actors and other celebrities. At the age of three Davis began his career in vaudeville with his father and Will Mastin as the Will Mastin Trio, which toured nationally. After military service Davis returned to the trio. Davis became an overnight sensation following a nightclub performance at Ciro's after the 1951 Academy Awards. With the trio, he became a recording artist. In 1954, he lost his left eye in an automobile accident, and several years later, he converted to Judaism.Davis' film career began as a child in 1933. In 1960, he appeared in the first Rat Pack film, Ocean's 11. 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. Davis' career slowed in the late 1960s, but he had a hit record with "The Candy Man" in 1972 and became a star in Las Vegas, earning him the nickname "Mister Show Business".As an African-American, Davis was the victim of racism throughout his life and was a large financial supporter of the Civil Rights movement. Davis had a complex relationship with the African-American community, and drew criticism after physically embracing President Richard M. Nixon in 1972. One day on a golf course with Jack Benny, he was asked what his handicap was. "Handicap?" he asked. "Talk about handicap — I'm a one-eyed Negro Jew." This was to become a signature comment, recounted in his autobiography, and in countless articles.After reuniting with Sinatra and Dean Martin in 1987, Davis toured with them and Liza Minnelli internationally, before he died of throat cancer in 1990. He died in debt to the Internal Revenue Service, and his estate was the subject of legal battles.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.StageMr. Wonderful (1957), musicalGolden Boy (1964), musical – Tony Nomination for Best Actor in a MusicalSammy (1974), special performance featuring Davis with the Nicholas BrothersStop the World – I Want to Get Off (1978) musical revivalTVGeneral Electric Theater – "The Patsy" (1960) Season 8 Episode 21Lawman (TV series) – episode Blue Boss and Willie Shay" (1961).Hennesey – episode "Tight Quarters" (1962).The Rifleman – 2 episodes "Two Ounces of Tin (#4.21)" (February 19, 1962) and "The Most Amazing Man (#5.9)" (November 27, 1962).77 Sunset Strip – episode "The Gang's All Here" (1962).Ben Casey – episode "Allie" (1963).The Patty Duke Show – episode "Will the Real Sammy Davis Please Hang Up?" (1965).The Wild Wild West – episode "The Night of the Returning Dead" (October 14, 1966).I Dream of Jeannie – episode "The Greatest Entertainer in the World" (1966).The Name of the Game – episode "I Love You, Billy Baker". (1970).All in the Family – episode "Sammy's Visit" (1972).Poor Devil – pilot (1973)The Carol Burnett Show – (1975)Charlie's Angels – episode "Sammy Davis, Jr. Kidnap Caper" (1977).Sanford & Son – SelfArchie Bunker's Place – episode "The Return of Sammy" (1980).The Jeffersons episode "What Makes Sammy Run?" (1984).Gimme a Break – episode "The Lookalike" (1985).Hunter – episode "Ring of Honor" (1989).The Cosby Show – episode "No Way, Baby" (1989). (After Davis' death in 1990, Bill Cosby wore a black pin with Davis' initials printed in white for an entire season of the show.)