Sammy Davis Jr. discussing Frank Sinatra

Originally published at: Sammy Davis Jr. discussing Frank Sinatra | Boing Boing


I didn’t really grow up knowing Sammy, but the more I see of him, he more I wish I had. That crew were all talented in various ways, but Sammy seems to be the one who was talented in everything he attempted in addition to being classy and dapper AF. Never really understood why he carried so much water for Frank.


He’s kinda clear in that clip.


Yeah, I’ve heard him say the same numerous times, and he clearly felt indebted to him for helping his career and “getting his head right”. He certainly doesn’t owe me any kind of explanation, it just makes me wonder when you see certain clips of them taking jabs at him and almost treating him as a subordinate. On the other hand, regardless of his talent, his road to reaching an audience would have been dramatically more difficult without that leg up, I’m sure. It’s always hard to look into the past and not project our modern sensibilities onto another’s actions.


Frank had Dean Martin to carry his alcohol, so somebody had to have the water.


Ba Dum Tish!


Didn’t Sinatra (and the Rat Pack in general) famously take a stand against racism, turning down any gig that would’t let Sammy stay in the hotel, or something? i seem to recall that.


From the beginning, Sinatra stood up for Sammy. Some time in the late 1940s, Frank appeared in a theater in New York during the lull of his career. He goes to Harlem to see the Will Maston Trio and is blown away by Sammy’s talent. After the show, he heads backstage to pay his respects, and asks Sammy to come see him perform.

About a week passes. No Sammy. So Sinatra goes back to Harlem to see the show again and says something to the effect of, “I’m angry with you, I came to see you twice and you never came to see me. Sammy, speaking to the man he admired more than anyone else in the world, said, “Frank, I did. They wouldn’t let me in.”

Frank then storms back to the theater, tears up his contract and leaves. This was not Sinatra during his peak fame. He needed the gig. Sammy, the boy with the scrapbook, talked about that day a lot over the years.

PBS has an American Masters about Sammy Davis, it’s an excellent watch if you’ve never seen it. It appears you can watch it online. You won’t be disappointed.


Yeah it’s one of those things that people look at nowadays and think “well of course, that’s what any decent person would have done in Sinatra’s position” but at the time it really was an unusually progressive and principled stand compared to almost anyone else in the business.

Sinatra was an asshole in several aspects of his life, but telling racist venues to fuck off took real cajones.


I could watch this all day long.


To answer the question of did he, or did he not, dodge the subpoena.

He did not.


in Ray Liotta’s portrayal of Sinatra for HBO, when Davis married a white woman, all Frank’s mob connections told him he wasn’t allowed to go to the wedding. naturally, Frank paid them no mind, but we’re talking entirely different types of contracts in place, potentially.


The one and only album he recorded with Motown ‘Something for Everyone’ is a good place to start. Apart from the weirdest zeitgeisty cover art the band and Sammy are kicking it! If doesn’t send shivers up your spine…

And from the same album, back in the days when you can hear that it’s all live:


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