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Sammy Davis, Jr.

Samuel George Davis Jr. (December 8, 1925 – May 16, 1990) was an American singer, dancer, actor, comedian, film producer and television director.

At age three, Davis began his career in Vaudeville with his father Sammy Davis Sr. and the Will Mastin Trio, which toured nationally, and his film career began in 1933. After military service, Davis returned to the trio and became an overnight sensation following a nightclub performance at Ciro's (in West Hollywood) after the 1951 Academy Awards. With the trio, he became a recording artist. In 1954, at the age of 29, he lost his left eye in a car accident. Several years later, he converted to Judaism, finding commonalities between the oppression experienced by African-American and Jewish communities.

Davis had a starring role on Broadway in Mr. Wonderful with Chita Rivera (1956). In 1960, he appeared in the Rat Pack film Ocean's 11. He returned to the stage in 1964 in a musical adaptation of Clifford Odets' Golden Boy. Davis was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance. The show featured the first interracial kiss on Broadway. In 1966, he had his own TV variety show, titled The Sammy Davis Jr. Show. While Davis's career slowed in the late 1960s, his biggest hit, "The Candy Man", reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in June 1972, and he became a star in Las Vegas, earning him the nickname "Mister Show Business".

Davis's popularity helped break the race barrier of the segregated entertainment industry. He did, however, have a complex relationship with the black community and drew criticism after publicly supporting President Richard 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 who's Jewish." This was to become a signature comment, recounted in his autobiography and in many articles.

After reuniting with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin in 1987, Davis toured with them and Liza Minnelli internationally, before his death in 1990. He died in debt to the Internal Revenue Service, and his estate was the subject of legal battles after the death of his wife. Davis was awarded the Spingarn Medal by the NAACP and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy Award for his television performances. He was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 1987, and in 2001, he was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Birth and Death Data: Born December 8, 1925 (New York City), Died May 16, 1990 (Beverly Hills)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1954 - 1969

Roles Represented in DAHR: vocalist

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 251 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Decca 86370 6/7/1954 Hey there! Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 86371 6/7/1954 And this is my beloved Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 86372 6/7/1954 Lonesome road Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 86373 6/7/1954 Because of you, part 1 Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 86374 6/7/1954 Because of you, part 2 Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 86375 6/7/1954 September song Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 86787 9/16/1954 Glad to be unhappy Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 86788 9/16/1954 The red grapes Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 86789 9/16/1954 Love (your magic spell is everywhere) Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 86790 9/16/1954 The birth of the blues Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 87521 3/10/1955 That old black magic Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 87522 3/10/1955 Don't let her go Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 87523 3/10/1955 Something's gotta give Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 87524 3/10/1955 It started all over again Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 87525 3/10/1955 Give a fool a chance Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 87526 3/10/1955 Love me or leave me Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 87848 5/2/1955 A man with a dream Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 87849 5/2/1955 In a Persian market Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 87850 5/2/1955 A fine romance Sammy Davis, Jr. ; Carmen McRae vocalist  
Decca 87851 5/2/1955 I go for you Sammy Davis, Jr. ; Carmen McRae vocalist  
Decca 88530 8/18/1955 Luck be a lady Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 88531 8/18/1955 Sit down, you're rockin' the boat Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 88532 8/18/1955 Adelaide Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 88533 8/18/1955 I' ll know Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
Decca 88538 8/19/1955 It's all right with me, part 1 Sammy Davis, Jr. vocalist  
(Results 1-25 of 251 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Davis, Sammy, Jr.," accessed March 1, 2024, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/311145.

Davis, Sammy, Jr.. (2024). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/311145.

"Davis, Sammy, Jr.." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2024. Web. 1 March 2024.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/311145

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