Elvera Sanchez

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Elvera Sanchez
Born (1905-09-01)September 1, 1905
New York City, New York, United States
Died September 2, 2000(2000-09-02) (aged 95)
New York City, New York, United States
Spouse(s) Sammy Davis Sr.
Children Sammy Davis Jr.

Elvera Sanchez (September 1, 1905 – September 2, 2000) was an American dancer and the mother of Sammy Davis Jr.

During his lifetime, Davis Jr. 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 Jr.'s mother was born in New York City, of Afro-Cuban, descent, and that Davis Jr. claimed she was Puerto Rican because he feared anti-Cuban backlash would hurt his record sales.[1]


Elvera Sanchez was born in New York City, to Luisa Valentina (Aguiar) and Marco Sanchez, from Spain. She began her career as a chorus-line dancer at the Lafayette Theater in Harlem, in 1921. She became known as Baby Sanchez and married Sammy Davis Sr., also a dancer, in 1923. In 1925 their son and only child, Sammy Davis Jr., was born. He would often accompany his mother and father to the theater. When the child was three, the couple split up and the father obtained sole custody of his son taking him on the road. Sanchez was a chorus-line dancer at Apollo Theater for six years and appeared in Carl Micheaux's 1936 Swing. She continued to dance until the 1940s.

After retiring from the stage, she worked as a waitress and became something of a house celebrity at Gracie's Little Belmonte, a popular bar on Kentucky Avenue, a street of glittering black clubs in Atlantic City. Telling jokes and carrying a special gold napkin, Ms. Davis was often visited at her station by star performers like Count Basie when they finished their acts.[2]

From 1989, until her death in 2000, she was an adviser to the New York Committee to Celebrate National Tap Dance Day. Her father was Marco Sanchez. Her mother, Luisa Valentina (née Aguiar), died in 1996, at the age of 112.[3] Elvera was survived by her daughter, Ramona.


  1. ^ Haygood, Wil (2003). In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr. New York: A.A. Knopf (Random House). p. 516. ISBN 0-375-40354-X. Retrieved April 29, 2006. 
  2. ^ "Elvera Davis, 95, Tap Dancer And Mother of Sammy Davis Jr.". NYTimes.com. 2000-09-08. Retrieved 2015-07-12. 
  3. ^ "In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr.: Wil Haygood: 9780375403545: Amazon.com: Books". amazon.com. 

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