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Davis, Sammy, Jr., 1925-1990
Samuel George Davis Jr. (1925-1990) was a successful comedian, actor, dancer, and singer in America during the mid-20th century. Davis was also a part of the famous Rat Pack with lifelong friend and collaborator, Frank Sinatra, and frequently performed in Las Vegas, Nevada. He overcame racism during his career and refused to appear at clubs that practiced racial segregation. Some well known recordings of Davis’s include "I've Gotta Be Me" and the hit "The Candy Man."
Sammy Davis Jr. was born on December 8, 1925 in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, New York. Davis lived with his father after the split of his parents when he was three years old. His father worked as an entertainer in a dance troupe, often bringing Davis along with him during his tours. After learning how to tap, Davis performed as a part of the Will Mastin Trio with his father and adopted uncle. By the 1930s, he was a skilled singer, multi-instrumentalist, comedian, and dancer. A few years after being drafted into the United States Army during World War II in 1943, Davis eventually went solo and sang in nightclubs and recorded records. He was signed to a recording contract by Decca Records in 1954 and appeared on television shows such as The Frank Sinatra Show in 1958.
By 1960, Davis was a member of The Rat Pack, an entertainment group comprised of singers Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. The group regularly performed their “Summit at the Sands” shows at the Sands Hotel and Casino’s Copa Room during the 1950s and 1960s in Las Vegas. Davis soon chose to perform in Northern Nevada, staying at a home owned by Bill Harrah that was built for entertainers during their stay. He soon returned to Las Vegas in 1985, headlining at the Desert Inn and appearing with comedian Jerry Lewis at Bally's Hotel-Casino. Davis died of cancer on May 16, 1990 at his home in Beverly Hills, California. Bill Harrah named his main showroom “Sammy’s Showroom” in Davis’ honor.
“Sammy Davis Jr.” Biography.com. A∓E Networks Television, November 26, 2019. Accessed June 3, 2020. https://www.biography.com/performer/sammy-davis-jr.
“Online Nevada Encyclopedia.” Sammy Davis Jr. | ONE, March 24, 2009. Accessed June 3, 2020. http://www.onlinenevada.org/articles/sammy-davis-jr.
“Sands Hotel and Casino.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, April 11, 2020. Accessed June 3, 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sands_Hotel_and_Casino.