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A VERY Revealing Interview with Sammy Davis Jr.

A VERY Revealing Interview with Sammy Davis Jr.

By Billy Ingram

Tom Cottle interviewed Sammy Davis Jr. in the seventies and asked some surprising questions. Davis was 60 years old in 1985 when this interview took place. Sammy spent his early years as an entertainer, constantly on the road performing in small clubs above the Mason Dixon line with his uncle Will Mastin and had no real relationship with his mother.

Sammy: I didn't meet my mother until I was something like 12-years old, for the first time. And she was still in show business, she was working in Connie's Hot Chocolate, there was a show called Connie's Hot Chocolate. And we were on the road going one way and we were in Vaudeville, The Will Mastin Trio, or Will Mastin and His Gang at the time, that's another way they went, so we never saw each other. And every once in a while and it wasn't until, oh I guess, after I came out of the Army, World War II, and my mother had quit show business and she was a barmaid in Atlantic City at a place called Little Belmont. And I used to go up and visit her and I got to know her then. She was a very very gracious woman, very sensitive, my mother's Puerto Rican, maiden name Elvera Sanchez. My great-grandmother on my mother's side is still alive, she's 104-years old.

Cottle: Oh my lord. Is your mother alive?

Sammy: Yes and my father, and I come from good lineage.

Cottle: What effect of not being raised by a mom being raised by all these men, does it have any effect on you do you think?

Sammy: I suppose it does but I neither the intelligence or the intellect to try to anylize it or get suer-analytical about it. I went through a period where I BLAMED everything that was wrong on the fact that I had no mother or father togetherness. As you would all do. But the to get right down to the nitty gritty I was in show business and I was having fun so the first thing that goes wrong as an adult you blame them. I know that right now I'm thankful for it. I have a marvelous relationship with my mother, I have a very running relationship with my dad and it's good, it's a good time as I'm prone to say nowadays. It's a good time for me.

Asked if he could go back and correct any mistakes he made, Sammy Davis Jr. replied, "No. Being where I am now, there isn't anything that I would want to change." At this time Davis, one of the most dynamic showmen of all time, was headling at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Frank Sinatra’s nickname for Sammy was “Smokey” which had to be demeaning but that's the kind of guy Sinatra was. Davis basically owed his career to Ol' Blue Eyes and was always appreciative in public. When asked if he felt he was almost Frank's mascot at times Davis replied, "Yes, I was. He didn't ask me to be the mascot, I made myself a mascot. I thought at that point in time I couldn't afford to miss it. And of course I did the next smart, wonderful thing, I created an arrogance about myself so that it pulled us totally apart. Each time that we ever have a set, when we got back together it was better, more solidified.

"Never, I don't think a room this size full of dynamite could blows us apart again because he was always there for me. He was there professional and he was there personal. Many things I did he didn't agree with and many things he did I disagreed with. Though I wouldn't verbalize it at the time so I kept it inside, you know. 'And I wanted to be as big as Sinatra.' And that shouldn't be a game, what you should do is be the best you you can be. And that's what I am now."

Sammy Davis Jr. died in 1990 from throat cancer, heavily in debt at the age of 64. As a tribute, the neon lights of the Las Vegas Strip were darkened for 10 minutes. His funeral procession was more than 300 cars long. He was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

City officials renamed a street near the Las Vegas Strip for the immortal entertainer.

This is a fascinating interview, perhaps the most in-depth in terms the entertainer's deep seeded insecurities and early days:


Sinatra on the death of Sammy Davis Jr.




VERY Revealing interview with Sammy Davis Jr


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