Remembering Sammy Davis Jr.
Bloggers and news outlets across the online community are paying tribute to Sammy Davis Jr., the prolific American singer and actor who passed away thirteen years ago today. He is highly regarded as a groundbreaking performer who carried the torch for many minority groups during civil rights struggles. Rick Michel and his fellow performers pay homage to Rat Pack performers like Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra during their Drinkin' - Singin' - Swingin' salutes. Read on to learn more about Davis and how he changed the landscape of stage performance and show business.
Getting an early start
Sammy Davis Jr. was born on December 8, 1925 to Sammy Davis Sr. and Elvera Sanchez, two vaudeville dancers. Their stage performances gave Davis Jr. an early introduction to entertainment, and he soon immersed himself in his parents' trade. His childhood performances included tap-dancing with the Will Mastin Trio, working with his father on the stage.
This early exposure would provide Davis with the momentum to continue his success across the nation. During World War II, Davis was drafted to serve for a brief time in the US Army. This proved to be an eye-opening experience, as he suffered racist attacks from fellow soldiers while serving. Eventually, he joined a Special Services unit that provided entertainment to soldiers, and he found solace in being respected for his talents and abilities on stage.
The Rat Pack
Once Davis left the US Army, he quickly gained stage recognition again with his family, leading to a life-changing performance on Broadway, starring in "Mr. Wonderful". He joined up with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop in 1959, a group known in entertainment circuits as The Rat Pack. Davis would go on to make several career-defining films with The Rat Pack, including Ocean's Eleven, Sweet Charity, and Taps.
Inspiring new generations
Sammy Davis Jr. continued to excel in the face of racial tensions and adversity that plagued American culture during the time of his career. His journey is an inspiration to many performers, including those who pay tribute to Davis on stage today. His works and life will be remembered and perpetuated by new generations of film and music fans.
He passed May 17, 1990…we’ll miss you Smokey.