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

Life and career[edit]

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 in Atlantic City on Kentucky Avenue, a street of glittering black clubs Telling jokes and carrying a special gold napkin, Sanchez 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.[3] Elvera was survived by her daughter, Ramona.


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