Happy Birthday to "The World's Greatest Entertainer": Sammy Davis, Jr. aka "Mr. Wonderful", born December 8. In the game of baseball there's a term for a player who can hit for average, hit for power, has tremendous speed and is adept at base-running, combined with exceptional throwing and fielding skills which is called "A Five Tool Player". This term fits Sammy appropriately for he could do it all: sing, dance, act, write, direct, produce, play musical instruments, and do stand-up comedy. Sammy was a seminal figure on T.V., film, and on stage when I was growing up. Yet for all of his talent, he was a complicated man who was loved and dismissed by both Blacks and Whites alike. And as with many African-American trailblazers, Davis paid a heavy price so that other Black entertainers could reap the financial benefits in the future (similar to baseball player Curt Flood and free agency; and like Flood, Sammy died broke). It's been almost 30 years since his passing, and unfortunately there's a whole generation that has absolutely no idea who Sammy is or his major contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. Fortunately, there's a wonderful biography by Wil Haygood published some years ago called "ln Black And White: The Life Of Sammy Davis, Jr." (which I highly recommend you seek out at your local library or used bookstore). One of Sammy's most popular T.V. appearances was on an episode of the classic, groundbreaking sitcom "All In The Family". So here are a few clips from "Sammy's Visit" (Season 2, Episode 21). And to think, this episode is just as relevant in 2017 as it was when it originally aired on February 19, 1972.
#JazzInfluences; #SammyDavisJr; #WilHaygood; #AllInTheFamily; #CurtFlood