Sammy Davis Jr.
Sammy Davis Jr.
Davis in 1989
Samuel George Davis Jr.
December 8, 1925
Harlem, New York, U.S.
|Died||May 16, 1990 (aged 64)|
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California|
Samuel George Davis Jr. (December 8, 1925 – May 16, 1990) was an American singer, musician, dancer, actor, vaudevillian and comedian. He was noted for his impressions of actors, musicians, and other celebrities. At the age of three, Davis began his career in vaudeville with his father, Sammy Davis Sr. and the Will Mastin Trio, which toured nationally. After military service, Davis returned to the trio. Davis 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, he lost his left eye in a car accident, and several years later, he converted to Judaism, finding commonalities between the oppression experienced by African-American and Jewish communities.
Davis's film career began as a child in 1933. In 1960, he appeared in the Rat Pack film Ocean's 11. After a starring role on Broadway in Mr Wonderful (1956), he returned to the stage in 1964's Golden Boy. In 1966 he had his own TV variety show, titled The Sammy Davis Jr. Show. Davis's career slowed in the late 1960s, but he had a hit record with "The Candy Man" in 1972 and became a star in Las Vegas, earning him the nickname "Mister Show Business".
Davis had 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 Jew." This was to become a signature comment, recounted in his autobiography and in countless articles.
After reuniting with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin in 1987, Davis toured with them and Liza Minnelli internationally, before his death from throat cancer in 1990 at age 64. He died in debt to the Internal Revenue Service, and his estate was the subject of legal battles. 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 the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 1987, and in 2001, he was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2017 he was inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame for being the Greatest Entertainer in the World, said founder Lamont "ShowBoat" Robinson.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Illness and death
- 5 Legacy
- 6 Discography
- 7 Honors and awards
- 8 Filmography
- 9 Stage
- 10 Television
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
Davis Jr. was born on December 8, 1925, in the Harlem section of Manhattan in New York City, the son of African-American entertainer and stage performer, Sammy Davis Sr. (1900–1988), and Afro-Cuban tap dancer Elvera Sanchez (1905–2000). During his lifetime, Davis 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's mother was born in New York City to parents of Cuban, Afro-Cuban, and African-American descent, and that Davis claimed he was Puerto Rican because he feared anti-Cuban backlash would hurt his record sales. Davis's parents were vaudeville dancers. As an infant, he was reared by his paternal grandmother. When he was three years old, his parents separated. His father, not wanting to lose custody of his son, took him on tour.
Davis learned to dance from his father and his "uncle" Will Mastin. Davis joined the act as a child and they became the Will Mastin Trio. Throughout his career, Davis included the Will Mastin Trio in his billing. Mastin and his father shielded him from racism, such as by explaining race-based snubs as jealousy. However, when Davis served in the United States Army during World War II, he was confronted by strong prejudice. He later said: "Overnight the world looked different. It wasn't one color any more. I could see the protection I'd gotten all my life from my father and Will. I appreciated their loving hope that I'd never need to know about prejudice and hate, but they were wrong. It was as if I'd walked through a swinging door for 18 years, a door which they had always secretly held open." At age seven, Davis played the title role in the film Rufus Jones for President, in which he sang and danced with Ethel Waters. He lived for several years in Boston's South End, and reminisced years later about "hoofing and singing" at Izzy Ort's Bar & Grille.
During service in World War II, the Army assigned Davis to an integrated entertainment Special Services "My talent was the weapon, the power, the way for me to fight. It was the one way I might hope to affect a man's thinking," he said. After his discharge, Davis rejoined the family dance act, which played at clubs around Portland, Oregon. He also recorded blues songs for Capitol Records in 1949, under the pseudonyms Shorty Muggins and Charlie Green.
On March 23, 1951, the Will Mastin Trio appeared at Ciro's as the opening act for headliner Janis Paige. They were to perform for only 20 minutes but the reaction from the celebrity-filled crowd was so enthusiastic, especially when Davis launched into his impressions, that they performed for nearly an hour, and Paige insisted the order of the show be flipped. Davis began to achieve success on his own and was singled out for praise by critics, releasing several albums. He was hired to sing the title song for the Universal Pictures film Six Bridges to Cross in 1954. In 1956, he starred in the Broadway musical Mr. Wonderful .
In 1959, Davis became a member of the Rat Pack, led by his friend Frank Sinatra, which included fellow performers Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford, a brother-in-law of John F. Kennedy. Initially, Sinatra called the gathering "the Clan", but Davis voiced his opposition, saying that it reminded people of the Ku Klux Klan. Sinatra renamed the group "the Summit". One long night of poker that went on into the early morning saw the men drunken and disheveled. As Angie Dickinson approached the group, she said, "You all look like a pack of rats." The nickname caught on, and they were called the Rat Pack, the name of its earlier incarnation led by Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, who originally made the remark of the "pack of rats" about the group around her husband Bogart.
Davis was a headliner at The Frontier Casino in Las Vegas, but he was required (as were all black performers in the 1950s) to lodge in a rooming house on the west side of the city, instead of in the hotels as his white colleagues did. No dressing rooms were provided for black performers, and they had to wait outside by the swimming pool between acts. Davis and other black artists could entertain but could not stay at the hotels where they performed, gamble in the casinos, or dine or drink in the hotel restaurants and bars. Davis later refused to work at places which practiced racial segregation.
Canada provided opportunities for performers like Davis unable to break the color barrier in USA broadcast television, and in 1959, he starred in his own TV special Sammy's Parade on the Canadian network CBC It was a breakthrough event for the performer, as in the United States in the 1950s, corporate sponsors largely controlled the screen: "Black people not portrayed very well on television, if at all," according to Jason King of the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music.
In 1964, Davis was starring in Golden Boy at night and shooting his own New York-based afternoon talk show during the day. When he could get a day off from the theater, he recorded songs in the studio, performed at charity events in Chicago, Miami, or Las Vegas, or appeared on television variety specials in Los Angeles. Davis felt he was cheating his family of his company, but he said he was incapable of standing still.
Although he was still popular in Las Vegas, he saw his musical career decline by the late 1960s. He had a No. 11 hit (No. 1 on the Easy Listening singles chart) with "I've Gotta Be Me" in 1969. He signed with Motown to update his sound and appeal to young people. His deal to have his own label with the company fell through. He had an unexpected No. 1 hit with "The Candy Man" with MGM Records in 1972. He did not particularly care for the song and was chagrined that he had become known for it, but Davis made the most of his opportunity and revitalized his career.
Although he enjoyed no more Top 40 hits, he did enjoy popularity with his 1976 performance of the theme song from the Baretta television series, "Baretta's Theme (Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow)" (1975–1978), which was released as a single (20th Century Records). He appeared on the television shows The Rifleman, I Dream of Jeannie, All in the Family (during which he famously kisses Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) on the cheek), and Charlie's Angels (with his wife, Altovise Davis). He appeared in Japanese commercials for Suntory whisky in the 1970s.
On December 11, 1967, NBC broadcast a musical-variety special featuring Nancy Sinatra, daughter of Frank Sinatra, titled Movin' with Nancy. In addition to the Emmy Award-winning musical performances, the show is notable for Nancy Sinatra and Davis greeting each other with a kiss, one of the first black-white kisses in US television.
Davis had a friendship with Elvis Presley in the late 1960s, as they both were top-draw acts in Vegas at the same time. Davis was in many ways just as reclusive during his hotel gigs as Elvis was, holding parties mainly in his penthouse suite which Elvis occasionally attended. Davis sang a version of Presley's song "In the Ghetto" and made a cameo appearance in Presley's concert film Elvis: That's the Way It Is. One year later, he made a cameo appearance in the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, but the scene was cut. In Japan, Davis appeared in television commercials for coffee, and in the United States he joined Sinatra and Martin in a radio commercial for a Chicago car dealership.
On May 27–28, 1973, Davis hosted (with Monty Hall) the first annual, 20-hour Highway Safety Foundation telethon. Guests included Muhammad Ali, Paul Anka, Jack Barry, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Ray Charles, Dick Clark, Roy Clark, Howard Cosell, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Joe Franklin, Cliff Gorman, Richie Havens, Danny Kaye, Jerry Lewis, Hal Linden, Rich Little, Butterfly McQueen, Minnie Pearl, Boots Randolph, Tex Ritter, Phil Rizzuto, The Rockettes, Nipsey Russell, Sally Struthers, Mel Tillis, Ben Vereen, and Lawrence Welk. It was a financial disaster. The total amount of pledges was $1.2 million. Actual pledges received were $525,000.
Davis was a huge fan of daytime television, particularly the soap operas produced by the American Broadcasting Company. He made a cameo appearance on General Hospital and had a recurring role as Chip Warren on One Life to Live, for which he received a 1980 Daytime Emmy Award nomination. He was also a game show fan, appearing on Family Feud in 1979 and Tattletales with his wife Altovise in the 1970s.
Davis was an avid photographer who enjoyed shooting pictures of family and acquaintances. His body of work was detailed in a 2007 book by Burt Boyar titled Photo by Sammy Davis, Jr. "Jerry [Lewis] gave me my first important camera, my first 35 millimeter, during the Ciro's period, early '50s," Boyar quotes Davis. "And he hooked me." Davis used a medium format camera later on to capture images. Boyar reports that Davis had said, "Nobody interrupts a man taking a picture to ask ... 'What's that nigger doin' here?'" His catalog includes rare photos of his father dancing onstage as part of the Will Mastin Trio and intimate snapshots of close friends Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, James Dean, Nat "King" Cole, and Marilyn Monroe. His political affiliations also were represented, in his images of Robert Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr. His most revealing work comes in photographs of wife May Britt and their three children, Tracey, Jeff and Mark.
Davis was an enthusiastic shooter and gun owner. He participated in fast-draw competitions. Johnny Cash recalled that Davis was said to be capable of drawing and firing a Colt Single Action Army revolver in less than a quarter of a second. Davis was skilled at fast and fancy gunspinning and appeared on television variety shows showing off this skill. He also demonstrated gunspinning to Mark on The Rifleman in "Two Ounces of Tin." He appeared in Western films and as a guest star on several television Westerns.
Accident and conversion
Davis nearly died in an automobile accident on November 19, 1954, in San Bernardino, California, as he was making a return trip from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. During the previous year, he had started a friendship with comedian and host Eddie Cantor, who had given him a mezuzah. Instead of putting it by his door as a traditional blessing, Davis wore it around his neck for good luck. The only time he forgot it was the night of the accident. The accident occurred at a fork in U.S. Route 66 at Cajon Boulevard and Kendall Drive ( ). Davis lost his left eye to the bullet-shaped horn button (a standard feature in 1954 and 1955 Cadillacs) as a result. His friend, actor Jeff Chandler, said he would give one of his own eyes if it would keep Davis from total blindness. Davis wore an eye patch for at least six months following the accident. He was featured with the patch on the cover of his debut album and appeared on What's My Line? wearing the patch. Later, he was fitted for a glass eye, which he wore for the rest of his life.
Eddie Cantor talked to Davis in the hospital about the similarities between the Jewish and black cultures. Davis, who was born to a Catholic mother and Protestant father, began studying the history of Jews. He converted to Judaism several years later in 1961. One passage from his readings (from the book A History of The Jews by Abram L. Sachar), describing the endurance of the Jewish people, interested him in particular: "The Jews would not die. Three millennia of prophetic teaching had given them an unwavering spirit of resignation and had created in them a will to live which no disaster could crush." The accident marked a turning point in Davis's career, taking him from a well-known entertainer to a national celebrity.
In 1957, Davis was involved with Kim Novak, a young, white actress under contract with Columbia Pictures. Harry Cohn, the president of Columbia, worried that racist backlash against their relationship could hurt the studio. He called his friend John Roselli, who was told to inform Davis that he must stop seeing Novak. To try to scare Davis, Roselli had him kidnapped for a few hours. Davis's quick, brief marriage to black dancer Loray White in 1958 was an attempt to quiet the controversy. A BBC documentary in 2014 said that Cohn arranged for Davis to be threatened with the loss of his other eye or a broken leg if he didn't marry a black woman within two days. At the wedding with White, Davis became so inebriated that he had to be helped into bed by his friend Arthur Silber. Checking on him later, Silber found Davis with a gun to his head.
Davis had offered to pay White $10,000 to enter into a fake marriage. In 1960, Davis caused controversy again when he married white, Swedish-born actress May Britt in a ceremony officiated by Rabbi William M. Kramer at Temple Israel of Hollywood. While interracial marriage had been legal in California since 1948, anti-miscegenation laws in the United States still stood in 23 states, and a 1958 opinion poll had found that only 4 percent of Americans supported marriage between black and white spouses. Davis received hate mail while starring in the Broadway adaptation of Golden Boy during 1964–1966, in which his character is in a relationship with a white woman, paralleling his own controversial relationship. At the time Davis appeared in the musical, although New York had no laws against it, debate about interracial marriage was still ongoing in America as Loving v. Virginia was being fought. It was only in 1967, after the musical had closed, that anti-miscegenation laws in all states were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States. Davis' daughter Tracey Davis also revealed in her 2014 book Sammy Davis Jr.: A Personal History With My Father that this marriage also resulted in President Kennedy refusing to allow Davis to perform at his Inauguration. This snub by President Kennedy was also backed by Director Sam Pollard, who revealed in his 2017 American Masters documentary Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me that Davis' invitation to perform at his inauguration was abruptly canceled on the night of his inaugural party.
Davis and Britt had one daughter, Tracey, and adopted two sons. Davis performed almost continuously and spent little time with his wife. They divorced in 1968, after Davis admitted to having had an affair with singer Lola Falana. That year, Davis started dating Altovise Gore, a dancer in Golden Boy. They were married on May 11, 1970, by the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Kathy McKee replaced Gore in Davis's nightclub act. They adopted a son, Manny, in 1989. Davis and Gore remained married until his death in 1990.
Davis was a registered Democrat and supported John F. Kennedy's 1960 election campaign as well as Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 campaign. John F. Kennedy would later refuse to allow Davis to perform at his inauguration on account of his marriage with the white actress May Britt. Nancy Sinatra revealed in her 1986 book Frank Sinatra: My Father how Kennedy had planned to snub Davis as plans for his wedding to Britt were unfolding. He went on to become a close friend of President Richard Nixon and publicly endorsed him at the 1972 Republican National Convention. Davis also made a USO tour to South Vietnam at Nixon's request.
Nixon invited Davis and his wife, Altovise, to sleep in the White House in 1973, the first time African-Americans were invited to do so. The Davises spent the night in the Lincoln Bedroom. Davis later said he regretted supporting Nixon, accusing Nixon of making promises on civil rights that he did not keep. Davis was a long-time donor to the Reverend Jesse Jackson's Operation PUSH organization.
Illness and death
In August 1989, Davis began to develop symptoms—a tickle in his throat and inability to taste food. Doctors found a cancerous tumor in Davis's throat. He had often smoked four packs of cigarettes a day as an adult. When told that surgery (laryngectomy) offered him the best chance of survival, Davis replied he would rather keep his voice than have a part of his throat removed; he was treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation. His larynx was removed during surgery. He was released from the hospital on March 13, 1990.
Davis died of complications from throat cancer two months later at his home in Beverly Hills, California, on May 16, 1990 at the age of 64. He was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park. On May 18, 1990, two days after his death, the neon lights of the Las Vegas Strip were darkened for ten minutes as a tribute.
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Davis Jr. left the bulk of his estate to his wife, Altovise Davis. After her death in 2009, their son Manny was named executor of the estate and majority rights holder of his intellectual property.
- In an episode of Charlie's Angels Sammy Davis Jr. had a dual role, playing both himself and as a Sammy Davis Jr. impersonator who is kidnapped by mistake. (In a comic relief scene the impersonator beats up a candy machine which doesn't give him his candy! (A spoof of Sammy Davis Jr.'s song "The Candy Man".)
- Comedian Jim Carrey has portrayed Davis on stage, in the 1983 film Copper Mountain, and in a stand-up routine.
- On Saturday Night Live, Davis has been portrayed by Garrett Morris, Eddie Murphy, Billy Crystal and Tim Meadows.
- Davis was portrayed on the popular sketch comedy show In Living Color by Tommy Davidson, notably a parody of the film Ghost, in which the ghost of Davis enlists the help of Whoopi Goldberg to communicate with his wife.
- David Raynr portrayed Davis in the 1992 miniseries Sinatra, a television film about the life of Frank Sinatra.
- In the comedy film Wayne's World 2 (1993), Tim Meadows portrays Davis in the dream sequence with Michael A. Nickles as Jim Morrison.
- Davis was portrayed by Don Cheadle in the HBO film The Rat Pack, a 1998 television film about the group of entertainers. Cheadle won a Golden Globe Award for his performance.
- He was portrayed by Paul Sharma in the 2003 West End production Rat Pack Confidential.
- Davis was portrayed in 2008 by Keith Powell in an episode of 30 Rock entitled "Subway Hero".
- In September 2009, the musical Sammy: Once in a Lifetime premiered at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego with book, music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, and additional songs by Bricusse and Anthony Newley. The title role was played by Broadway Tony Award nominee Obba Babatundé.
- Comedian Billy Crystal has portrayed Sammy Davis Jr. in his stand-up routine and at the Oscars.
- Actor Phaldut Sharma created the comedy web-series I Gotta Be Me (2015), following a frustrated soap star as he performs as Sammy in a Rat Pack tribute show.
- In January 2017, Davis's estate joined the producing team led by Lionel Richie, Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mike Menchel to make a movie based on Davis’s extraordinary life and show-biz career.
Honors and awards
|2002||Grammy Hall of Fame Award||"What Kind of Fool Am I?"||Inducted||Recorded in 1962|
|2001||Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award||Winner|
|1972||Pop Male Vocalist||"Candy Man"||Nominee|
|1962||Record of the Year||"What Kind of Fool Am I?"||Nominee|
|1962||Male Solo Vocal Performance||"What Kind of Fool Am I?"||Nominee|
|1990||Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy||Sammy Davis Jr.'s 60th Anniversary Celebration||Winner|
|1989||Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series||The Cosby Show||Nominee|
|1980||Outstanding Cameo Appearance in a Daytime Drama Series||One Life to Live||Nominee|
|1966||Outstanding Variety Special||The Swinging World of Sammy Davis Jr.||Nominee|
|1956||Best Specialty Act — Single or Group||Sammy Davis Jr.||Nominee|
|2008||International Civil Rights Walk of Fame||Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site||Inducted|
|2006||Las Vegas Walk of Stars||front of Riviera Hotel||Inducted|
|1989||NAACP Image Award||NAACP||Winner|
|1987||Kennedy Center Honors||John F. Kennedy Center for
the Performing Arts
|1977||Best TV Actor — Musical/Comedy||Golden Globe||Sammy and Company (1975)||Nominee|
|1974||Special Citation Award||National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences||Winner|
|1968||NAACP Spingarn Medal Award||NAACP||Winner|
|1965||Best Actor — Musical||Tony Award||Golden Boy||Nominee|
|1960||Hollywood Walk of Fame||Star at 6254 Hollywood Blvd.|
- Rufus Jones for President (1933) - Rufus Jones
- Seasoned Greetings (1933) - Henry Johnson - Store Customer
- Sweet and Low (1947) - Member, Will Maston Trio
- Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956) - Sammy Davis Jr. (voice, uncredited)
- Anna Lucasta (1958) - Danny Johnson
- Porgy and Bess (1959) - Sportin' Life
- Ocean's 11 (1960) - Josh Howard
- Pepe (1960) - Sammy Davis Jr.
- Sergeants 3 (1962) - Jonah Williams
- Convicts 4 (1962) - Wino
- The Threepenny Opera (1963) - Ballad Singer
- Johnny Cool (1963) - Educated
- Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964) - Will
- Nightmare in the Sun (1965) - Truck driver
- The Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World (1965, title song) - Singer behind opening credits (uncredited)
- A Man Called Adam (1966) - Adam Johnson
- Alice in Wonderland (or What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This?) (1966)
- Salt and Pepper (1968) - Charles Salt
- The Fall (1969)
- Sweet Charity (1969) - Big Daddy
- One More Time (1970) - Charles Salt
- Elvis: That's the Way It Is (1970)
- Diamonds Are Forever (1971) - Casino Punter (deleted scene)
- Save the Children (1973)
- Poor Devil (1973; unsold pilot of a TV series)
- Gone with the West, also known outside the U.S. as Little Moon and Jud McGraw (1975) - Kid Dandy
- Madeleine (1977) - Spud The Scarecrow (singing voice)
- Sammy Stops the World (1978) - Littlechap
- The Cannonball Run (1981) - Morris Fenderbaum
- Heidi's Song (1982) - Head Ratte (voice)
- Cracking Up (1983)
- Broadway Danny Rose (1984) - Thanksgiving Parade's Grand Marshall (uncredited)
- Cannonball Run II (1984) - Morris Fenderbaum
- Alice in Wonderland (1985) - The Caterpillar / Father William
- That's Dancing! (1985)
- Knights of the City (1986)
- The Perils of P.K. (1986)
- Moon over Parador (1988)
- Tap (1989) - Little Mo
- The Kid Who Loved Christmas (1990) - Sideman (final film role)
- Mr. Wonderful (1957), musical
- Golden Boy (1964), musical – Tony Nomination for Best Actor in a Musical
- Sammy (1974), special performance featuring Davis with the Nicholas Brothers
- Stop the World – I Want to Get Off (1978) musical revival
- General Electric Theater – "The Patsy" (1960) Season 8 Episode 21
- Lawman – episode Blue Boss and Willie Shay" (1961)
- The Dick Powell Show - episode "The Legend" (1962)
- Hennesey – episode "Tight Quarters" (1962)
- The Rifleman – 2 episodes "Two Ounces of Tin (#4.21)" (February 19, 1962) and "The Most Amazing Man (#5.9)" (November 27, 1962)
- 77 Sunset Strip – episode "The Gang's All Here" (1962)
- Ben Casey – episode "Allie" (1963)
- The Patty Duke Show – episode "Will the Real Sammy Davis Please Hang Up?" (1965)
- Alice In Wonderland or What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (March 30, 1966)
- The Wild Wild West – episode "The Night of the Returning Dead" (October 14, 1966)
- Batman - "The Clock King's Crazy Crimes" (1966)
- I Dream of Jeannie – episode "The Greatest Entertainer in the World" (1967)
- Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In - Here Comes The Judge skit (1968–70, 1971, 1973)
- The Mod Squad - three episodes: "Keep the Faith Baby" (1969), "Survival House" (1970), and "The Song of Willie" (1970)
- The Beverly Hillbillies - episode Manhattan Hillbilies (1969)
- The Name of the Game – episode "I Love You, Billy Baker" (1970)
- Here's Lucy (1970)
- All in the Family – episode "Sammy's Visit" (1972)
- Chico and the Man - episode "Sammy Stops In" (1975)
- The Carol Burnett Show (1975)
- Sammy and Company - host/performer (1975)
- Charlie's Angels – episode "Sammy Davis, Jr. Kidnap Caper" (1977)
- Sanford (TV series) – episodes "Dinner and George's"(cameo) and "The Benefit" (1980)
- Archie Bunker's Place – episode "The Return of Sammy" (1980)
- General Hospital - episode Benefit for Sports Center (1982)
- The Jeffersons episode "What Makes Sammy Run?" (1984)
- Fantasy Island episode "Mr. Bojangles and the Dancer/Deuces are Wild" (1984)
- Gimme a Break! – episode "The Lookalike" (1985)
- Alice in Wonderland (1985 film)
- Hunter – episode "Ring of Honor" (1989)
- The Cosby Show – episode "No Way, Baby" (1989)
- Sammy Davis, Jr. 60th Anniversary Celebration (1990) – 2½ hour all star TV special
- Sammy Davis Jr. portal
- History of the Jews in the African diaspora
- List of Hispanic and Latino Americans
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- Casey Kasem's American Top 40 – The 70's from April 29 & May 6, 1972
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- Religion: Jewish Negro Time February 1, 1960
- Sammy Davis Jr. "Is My Mixed Marriage Mixing Up My Kids", Ebony, October 1966, p. 124.
- Rebecca Dube, "Menorah Illuminates Davis Jr.'s Judaism", The Jewish Daily Forward, May 29, 2009.
- Sammy Davis, Jr.'s 'Music, Money, Madness' - NPR
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- "Obituary: Elvera Davis, 95, Tap Dancer And Mother of Sammy Davis Jr". The New York Times. September 8, 2000. Archived from the original on 2018-03-30. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
- "What Made Sammy Dance?". Time. October 23, 2003. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
- Haygood, Wil (2003). In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis Junior. New York: A. A. Knopf (Random House). p. 516. ISBN 0-375-40354-X. Retrieved April 29, 2006.
- Davis, Sammy; Boyar, Jane; Boyar, Burt (2000). Sammy: An Autobiography: with Material Newly Revised from Yes I Can and Why Me?. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. pp. 46–. ISBN 978-0-374-29355-0. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
- "Rufus Jones for President", British Film Institute, (1933)
- Santosuosso, Ernie (May 17, 1990). "Sammy Davis Jr., Entertainer for Six Decades, Dies at 64". The Boston Globe.
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- Eagle, Bob L.; Leblanc, Eric (2013). Blues: A Regional Experience. ABC-CLIO. p. 261. Retrieved January 15, 2016.
- Kashner, Sam, "The Color of Love", Vanity Fair, September 2013.
- E.g. Billboard, July 25, 1953, p. 11.
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- Fishgall, Gary (September 30, 2003). Gonna Do Great Things: The Life of Sammy Davis Jr. Scribner. ISBN 978-0-7432-2741-4. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
- Sammy Davis Jr., Burt Boyar, and Jane Boyar, Sammy: The Autobiography of Sammy Davis Jr. (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000).
- Parris, Amanda (April 25, 1986), CBC's digging up its music archives, and it couldn't have happened at a better time, CBC
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- Nancy Sinatra (June 17, 2000). "Nancy Sinatra Reminisces; Alan Dershowitz Talks About Justice; Hamilton Jordan Discusses Cancer; Lou Cannon Puts Reagan in Perspective" (transcript). Larry King Live. CNN.
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- Staff Writer (1973). "The Highway Safety Foundation: A Chronology". Documenting reality. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
- Boyar, Burt (2007). Photo by Sammy Davis, Jr. New York: Regan Books. p. 338. ISBN 9780061146053.
- Hurst, Jack (August 26, 1994). "Johnny Cash's War Within". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
- Cannon, Bob (20 November 1992). "The Unflappable Sammy Davis Jr". EW.com. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
- "Why JFK Refused to Let Sammy Davis Jr. Perform at White House". ABC News. April 18, 2014. Retrieved August 23, 2014.
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- "Nice Fellow". Time. April 18, 1955. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
- "Pamphlet from Birdland Jazz Club". 1955. Archived from the original on October 3, 2009. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
- on YouTube
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- Weiss, Beth (March 19, 2003). "Sammy Davis, Jr". The Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
- Sammy Davis Jr. Turns Near Tragedy into Triumph, San Bernardino Sun, September 28, 2008 Archived December 9, 2012, at Archive.today
- Reid, Ed; Demaris, Ovid (1963). The Green Felt Jungle. Cutchogue, New York: Buccaneer Books. LCCN 63022217.
- Lanzendorfer, Joy (August 9, 2017) "Hollywood Loved Sammy Davis Jr. Until He Dated a White Movie Star", Smithsonian Retrieved March 15, 2018.
- December 2014 BBC documentary, Sammy Davis, Jr. The Kid in the Middle.
- Newport, Frank "In U.S., 87% Approve of Black-White Marriage, vs. 4% in 1958", Gallup News, July 25, 2013
- Loving v. Virginia.
- "Sammy Davis Jr. Succumbs To Cancer". Philadelphia Inquirer. May 17, 1990. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
- Sinatra, N. (1986). Frank Sinatra: My Father. New York: Pocket Books.
- Early, G. L. (2001). The Sammy Davis Jr. reader. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
- "Sammy Davis Jr. Dies at 64; Top Showman Broke Barriers". www.nytimes.com.
- "Davis supports Jackson", Minden Press-Herald, February 6, 1984, p. 1
- Rochman, Sue (2007). "The Cancer That Silenced Mr. Wonderful's Song". Cancer Research Magazine. 2 (3). Retrieved November 19, 2015.
- Simmonds, Yussuf (July 30, 2009). "Sammy Davis Jr". Los Angeles Sentinel. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
- Flint, Peter B. (May 17, 1990). "Sammy Davis Jr. Dies at 64. Top Showman Broke Barriers". The New York Times. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
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.
- Clarke, Norm (May 17, 2015). "Anniversary of Sammy Davis Jr.'s death comes and goes in Las Vegas". Las Vegas Review Journal. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
Many consider Davis the greatest all-around entertainer. After he died on May 16, 1990, he received the ultimate Las Vegas tribute — the lights went dark on the Strip to honor the song-and-dance icon.
- "Sammy Leaves Estate to Wife; Prized Gun to Clint Eastwood". Los Angeles Times. August 8, 1990. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
- Tayman, John (7 October 1991). "Sammy's Troubled Legacy". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
- Yoder, C. (June 2010). "Sammy Davis, Jr.'s Son Tests LegalZoom Last Will in Court". LegalZoom. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
- Rival Rat Pack Reopens West End Whitehall, 18 Sep – News Archived June 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.. Whatsonstage.com. Retrieved 2013-02-10.
- "HOME". I GOTTA BE ME.
- Hipes, Patrick. "Sammy Davis Jr Biopic Aligns With Estate, Moves Foward [sic] With Producers Lionel Richie & Lorenzo Di Bonaventura". Deadline. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
- The Envelope. "Awards Database: Sammy Davis Jr". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
- "Las Vegas Walk of Stars" (PDF). Lasvegaswalkofstars.com. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
- "Fantasy Island - Season 7, Episode 21: Bojangles and the Dancer / Deuces Are Wild - TV.com". www.tv.com. Retrieved 2015-11-21.
- "You Were There", a song by Michael Jackson and Buz Kohan, was performed by Michael Jackson during this show
- Yes, I Can (with Burt and Jane Boyar) (1965), ISBN 0-374-52268-5
- Why Me? (with Burt and Jane Boyar) (1989), ISBN 0-446-36025-2
- Sammy (with Burt and Jane Boyar) (2000), ISBN 0-374-29355-4; consolidates the two previous books and includes additional material
- Hollywood in a Suitcase (1980), ISBN 0-425-05091-2
- Haygood, Wil (2003). In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr. New York: A. A. Knopf (Random House). ISBN 0-375-40354-X.
- Birkbeck, Matt (2008), Deconstructing Sammy. Amistad. ISBN 978-0-06-145066-2
- Silber Jr., Arthur (2003), "Sammy Davis Jr: Me and My Shadow, Samart Enterprises, ISBN 0-9655675-5-9
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sammy Davis, Jr..|
- Sammy Davis Jr. on IMDb
- Sammy Davis Jr. at the Internet Broadway Database
- Sammy Davis Jr. at AllMovie
- FBI Records: The Vault - Sammy Davis Jr. at fbi.gov
- Discography of Sammy Davis Jr.'s Recording Career
- "Sammy Davis Jr. Dies at 64; Top Showman Broke Barriers", The New York Times, May 17, 1990.
- Sammy Davis Jr. talks to draft dodgers in Canada, CBC Archives
- Archival Television Audio on Sammy Davis Jr.
- BBC Radio 4 programme on Sammy Davis Jr.
- "William Morris Agency Billing Contract for the Will Mastin Trio & Sammy Davis Jr". University of Nevada Las Vegas. Retrieved 2018-03-30.
- Sammy Davis Jr. at Find a Grave