Sammy Davis, Jr.

sammy

December 08, 1925 – May 16, 1990

“THE ENTERTAINER HE DID IT ALL”

The inscription on Sammy Davis, Jr.’s grave marker could not be more accurate.  He DID do it all.  The multi-talented singer/dancer/actor/impersonator was a dynamo packed into a skinny, 5′ 5″ frame. By the age of 3, he was already performing on stage with his father, Sammy Davis, Sr. and Will Mastin as part of the Will Mastin Trio (Davis, Sr. and Mastin are also buried at Forest Lawn Glendale, right next to Sammy.) His career would see great heights despite personal setbacks.  In 1954, Davis was in a serious car crash that resulted in the loss of his left eye, something he would use to his own self-deprecating sense of humor throughout his life.  He found even greater fame along side pals Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin in the legendary “Rat Pack.” The friends remained close throughout their lives and Sinatra remarked upon his death that Sammy was “one of the finest human beings I ever knew in my life.”

Davis was also notable in his role in breaking down the color barrier in the entertainment industry.  He was famously involved with a number of women of different races – including a brief marriage to Swedish actress, May Britt – and drew the ire of people on both sides of the civil rights movement for his surprising political alignments. He was also one of the first African-American entertainers to be allowed to STAY in a number of the Las Vegas hotels he would perform in.  Prior to that time, only white patrons were allowed to stay in the hotels. Black entertainers were ushered in and out of the venues via the kitchen.

In 1989, Davis was diagnosed with throat cancer and died on May 16, 1990.  Sinatra famously claimed that Sammy was simply “burnt out” from living such an energetic life.  Despite an amazingly successful career, he died bankrupt and some $70,000 worth of jewelry would eventually be removed from his casket to settle some of the debt.

He did it all.  And sometimes, that just takes its toll.

Burial

Forest Lawn Memorial Park – Glendale CA

davis jr - june 29 2009

Specific Location

Court of Freedom; Garden of Honor; This is a locked, private garden; IF you happen to get in (grounds crews sometimes leave the doors open while working in there), the Davis family plot is on the left, halfway down the garden. There is a white statute of a couple standing with the name “Davis” on its base. Sammy is buried in the second row directly in front of this statue.

glendale_davis

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