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Part of the now infamous Rat Pack, Samuel George Davis Jr prevailed racism and established himself as activist, multitalented performer, and an extraordinary entertainment icon.
Davis got his start at just three years old, touring with his dancer father. Audiences could not resist the tiny, Tap Dancing Sammy. It wasn’t until 1947 when he opened for Sinatra in New York that Davis’ career went stratospheric. He got his first Decca recording contract and his own TV show in addition to his thriving stage career and his hot demand as a nightclub singer. Despite skyrocketing success, it was never easy.
Davis faced severe racism throughout his life, enduring horrifying attacks before his stardom in the US army and was banned from performing at J.F.K’s inauguration by the president himself. Never backing down, Davis fought to dismantle racial barriers in show business and was directly responsible for many racially segregated clubs changing their ways. Even his marriage to the Swedish born actress May Britt broke new ground for racial relations.
Dying at just 64, it’s clear that Davis was more than an entertainer: a world class talent and an instrumental part of the war against institutionalised racism so grimly prevalent in 20th century America.