Sometime in the late 40s, before either man was famous, Frank Sinatra appeared in a theater in New York. After his show he went to Harlem to see the Will Maston Trio led by a young Sammy Davis Jr. Frank was blown away by Sammy’s talent and after the show he asked Sammy to come see his show.
A week goes by. No Sammy. Sinatra went back to Harlem to see the Will Maston Trio again and asked. Sammy why he didn’t show. Sammy said he was there but they wouldn’t let him in. Frank stormed back to the theater, tore up his contract in front of them, and never performed there again. That would be a common theme during the course of their friendship and careers. When Sammy wasn’t allowed to play at the Copacabana, Frank wouldn’t play there either.
When Sammy was refused a Las Vegas hotel room, Frank said, “Give him my room!” After Sammy’s car accident where he lost his eye, it was Sinatra who paid all his medical bills. After 5 decades and 40 years of performing together, a reporter once asked Frank why he was always so charitable to Sammy. Frank responded in three words, “He’s my brother.”
Sammy Davis Jr
One of the most versatile entertainers to have ever graced the American entertainment industry, Sammy Davis, Jr. was a multifaceted personality. Born as Samuel George Davis, Jr., he was a singer, dancer, actor, and impersonator all rolled into one. As the son of a famous entertainer Sammy Davis, Sr., the junior Sammy entered the show business at the age of three. The highly talented artist rose to overnight fame following a nightclub performance after the Academy Awards event in 1951. An African-American, he was a victim of rampant racism during his younger days; sometimes he was not even allowed to stay in the hotels he performed in as they did not take in black guests. In a protest against this discrimination he refused to perform at venues that practiced segregation. He lost one eye in an unfortunate accident but he courageously bounced back sporting a glass eye which soon became his trademark. He was good friends with Frank Sinatra and was a member of the famous Rat Pack which included performers like Dean Martin and Joey Bishop. He reached the peak of his popularity during the 1960s when he used to be billed as ‘the greatest living entertainer in the world’.