Sammy Davis Jr. was as tough to define as his multi-hyphenate career. Most folks refer to him simply as an entertainer—not a singer, comedian, dancer, or actor, but a man who defied even his own labels including black, Puerto Rican, and Jewish. As shown in director Sam Pollard’s Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me, which premiered at Toronto International Film Festival this month, Davis fought long and hard to be inscrutable.

He also fought to be taken seriously as a performer coming up during Jim Crow amid a sea of white celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin—which often meant distancing himself from his blackness and being a quiet ally in the civil rights movement. It also meant that he’d occasionally find himself inside the “sunken place.”

Sammy Davis Jr., African American Entertainer, Black Entertainers, Rat Pack, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNBurt Glinn | Photo Credit

Sammy Davis Jr., African American Entertainer, Black Entertainers, Rat Pack, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNBurt Glinn | Photo Credit

Sammy Davis Jr., African American Entertainer, Black Entertainers, Rat Pack, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNPhilip Halsman | Photo Credit

Sammy Davis Jr., African American Entertainer, Black Entertainers, Rat Pack, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNPhilip Halsman | Photo Credit

Sammy Davis Jr., African American Entertainer, Black Entertainers, Rat Pack, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNPhilip Halsman | Photo Credit

Sammy Davis Jr., African American Entertainer, Black Entertainers, Rat Pack, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNPhilip Halsman | Photo Credit

Sammy Davis Jr., African American Entertainer, Black Entertainers, Rat Pack, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMNPhilip Halsman | Photo Credit


NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY & CULTURE | WASHINGTON, DC

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become charter members. The Museum opened to the public on September 24, 2016, as the 19th and newest museum of the Smithsonian Institution. (Biography.com).


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KOLUMN Magazine celebrates the lives of People of Color by giving our world texture.