Elvera Sanchez

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Elvera Sanchez
Sammy Davis, Jr. and mother at Grace's Little Belmont 1954.jpg
Sanchez with her son, Sammy Davis, Jr. at Grace's Little Belmont, 1954
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; 1884–1996) 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 her show business career at the age of 35, she began working as a barmaid for Grace's Little Belmont in Atlantic City, New Jersey.[2][3][4] She enjoyed telling jokes to customers and was known for sporting a gold napkin.[5][6] Her connections with entertainers Count Basie, Billy Eckstine, and Sarah Vaughn drew these and other celebrities to her station, and her son Sammy would come to visit after performing across town at the 500 Club "and delighted everyone pouring drinks and singing".[4] Frank Sinatra's valet George Jacobs recalled in his memoirs that Sinatra also liked to drop by Grace's Little Belmont in the early morning hours after his shows at the 500 Club to say hello to Davis' mother behind the bar.[7]

From 1989, until her death in 2000, she was an adviser to the New York Committee to Celebrate National Tap Dance Day.[8] Elvera was survived by her daughter, Ramona.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Haygood, Wil (2003). In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0-375-40354-X. Retrieved April 29, 2006. 
  2. ^ Haygood 2014, pp. 143-144.
  3. ^ Fishgall 2010, p. 8.
  4. ^ a b Jackson, Delilah (27 September 2000). "Remember 'Baby': A Star in Her Own Right!". The New York Beacon. Retrieved 17 August 2016 – via HighBeam. (subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ "Elvera Davis, 95, Tap Dancer And Mother of Sammy Davis Jr.". The New York Times. 8 September 2000. Retrieved 21 August 2016. 
  6. ^ "Mother Greets Famous Son". Jet magazine. Johnson Publishing: 37. September 9, 1954. ISSN 0021-5996. Retrieved September 12, 2016. 
  7. ^ Jacobs & Stadiem 2003, p. 166.
  8. ^ "In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr.: Wil Haygood: 9780375403545: Amazon.com: Books". amazon.com. 

Sources[edit]

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