Recognized throughout much of his career as "the world's greatest living entertainer," Sammy Davis, Jr. was a remarkably popular and versatile performer equally adept at acting, singing, dancing, and impersonations – in short, a variety artist in the classic tradition. A member of the famed Rat Pack, he was among the very first African-American talents to find favor with audiences on both sides of the color barrier, and remains a perennial icon of cool.
Sir Bruce Forsyth looks at the life and career of Sammy Davis Jr, who he considers to be the greatest entertainer of all time. Sir Bruce first met Sammy in May 1960 when he was hosting The Royal Command Performance and Sammy was top of the bill. So began a friendship that lasted until Sammy's death in 1990. Born into poverty in Harlem, New York in 1925, Sammy Davis Jr went on the road at the age of three with his vaudeville performer father and appeared in his first movie before he was five. Broadway and West End theatre, Hollywood movies, network television, Las Vegas and performances before royalty and presidents were to follow. But given widespread prejudice during the early years of his career, he could not stay in the hotels where he performed. In addition to learning of Sammy's struggle against racism and bigotry, Sir Bruce meets up with people who knew and loved him, including Burt Boyar, co-author of Sammy's autobiography, and Lionel Blair.
A true all round entertainer - comedian, dancer and singer - Sammy Davis Jr. was born into a showbiz family and made his stage debut at the tender age of three.
His recording career began in 1954 when he signed to Decca Records and released an album that reached the coveted number one spot in the American charts. Nothing could dull his zest for performing and partying, even losing an eye in a near fatal accident only kept him off stage for six weeks!