Sammy Davis, Jr. Performs!

Air Date: August 8, 1954

Notable Cast

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https://archive.org/details/theColgateSummerComedyHour-8August1954

A Life-Long Performer

Sammy Davis, Jr.  was born in 1925. In 1929, at just 4-years-old and at the start of the Great Depression, he began his life-long career in entertainment and media. At three he went on tour with is father, who had gained custody after separating from Sammy’s mother, Elvera “Baby” Sanchez. There, he was tutored by his father, Sammy Davis, Sr. and Will Mastin, his adopted “Uncle.” The three of them developed a trio act, and Sammy’s song and dance ability and charm helped make them a hit.

Small in stature, but endowed with immeasurable charisma and energy, Davis’ talent was noticed. In 1933 he made his first motion picture appearance in Rufus Jones for President.

At 18, Davis was drafted into the army. Here, for the first time, he encountered prejudice directly. Although not noted for his civil rights activism, Davis was a leader by example. He gave young black entertainers a model for success and he used his position in the industry to pressure for changes. He refused to work at venues that practiced racial segregation and his pressure helped integrate clubs in both Miami and Las Vegas.

He sought to charm and win over those he called, “haters” but was determined to live his life his own way. n 1960, Davis married Swedish-born May Britt at a time when interracial marriages where still illegal in 31 states in the US.

Davis achieved success on stage, in films, on radio and television and as an author. He sang, danced, acted, told jokes, did impressions and charmed his way into America’s entertainment legacy. In this clip, from 1954, Davis performs to one of his biggest hits, “Birth of the Blues,” on the Colgate Comedy Hour.

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