National Obituary Review

Dead Person of the Day – May 16 – Sammy Davis Jr.

0 Comments 16 May 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mr. Show Business – Sammy Davis Jr. is your DPD.

Born in a Harlem tenement Davis, Jr. grew up in vaudeville from the age of 3 and never went to school. Through this early experience Sammy honed his myriad talents including singing, dancing, acting and imitations which would come to make him one of the nation’s first black performers to gain mainstream acclaim.

Coming of age during the 1940s and 50s Davis Jr. was often the victim of the rising racial tensions so en vogue in America. When he was drafted into service during WWII he was often the target of the white GI’s. Its said that his trademark disjointed schnoze was a result of having his nose broken so many times in scraps over said racial tensions.

But he persevered.

He went on to a massive star in music, television, Broadway and film. If that isn’t impressive enough the first of his 3 wives was to Swedish model May Britt which is pretty damn impressive. If you don’t believe me check this out.

Mr. Davis also endured major health setbacks. He lost his left eye in a near-fatal 1954 auto crash, had reconstructive hip surgery in 1985 that enabled him to dance again, and was told in 1989 that he had throat cancer. Lifes’s a bitch eh?

One of his most notable sayings was ”The hardest thing is waking up in the morning and realizing that’s as good as you’re going to feel all day.”

Amen brother.

He had a checkered past in politics. He was once a staunch proponent of JFK until he was taken off the guest list for a fundraiser because Kennedy thought the presence of the black star with his white wife (Britt) would upset some conservative voters of the south. This obviously hurt Davis, Jr. and prompted him to become (shockingly) a supporter of Dick Nixon….even embracing him in a public appearance. This drew the ire of many people of the black community and Davis, Jr. later withdrew the support saying Nixon didn’t deliver on many of the promises he made to Davis Jr. re: civil rights.

Perhaps even more impressively Davis Jr. was beating Charles Barkley at his own game by gambling and spending ($50 million over 20 years while earning $3 million a year) and excessive drinking and smoking.

He died in a massive amount of debt to the IRS and his estate was the subject of a gruesome court battle between a number of different parties.

For my money you still can’t get a better Brando impression (fast forward the above video to 3:45)

Here’s to living and dying in ¾ time.

Mr. Show Business – Sammy Davis Jr.

Sammy Davis Jr. Dies at 64; Top Showman Broke Barriers


Sammy Davis Jr., a versatile and dynamic singer, dancer and actor who overcame extraordinary obstacles to become a leading American entertainer, died of throat cancer yesterday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 64 years old and had been in deteriorating health since his release from Cedar-Sinai Medical Center on March 13. Continue

- who has written 512 posts on The Shade.

Contact the author

Share your view

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

© 2021 The Shade. Powered by WordPress.