In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr.

In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr.

by Wil Haygood
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Overview

In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr. by Wil Haygood

His life appeared to be a fulfillment of the American Dream. From his rise to top billing on the nightclub circuit to his recording contracts, his featured roles on Broadway to his Hollywood stardom, his fame and fortune in Las Vegas to his Rat Pack heyday, Sammy Davis, Jr. seemed to have had it all and have done it all. Yet despite his successes, his celebrity friendships, and his untold romances, the entertainer was a roiling storm of contradictions and conflict. Admired and reviled by both blacks and whites, he was tormented by raging insecurities, never quite coming to terms with his own skin. In his award-winning biography, Wil Haygood takes Davis beyond the icon to explore the man trapped between a world of black and white, love and hate, identity and persona. Based on painstaking research and over 250 interviews, In Black and White transcends simple biography to provide a vast and vivid cultural history of the twentieth century as well as an intimate portrayl of one of America's greatest entertainers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375403545
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/07/2003
Pages: 516
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 9.52(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Wil Haygood is currently a staff writer for the Style section of the Washington Post. For seventeen years he was a feature writer, and national and foreign correspondent for the Boston Globe. He has received numerous awards, including the Sunday Magazine Editors Award, which he received twice; the New England Associated Press Award; the National Association of Black Journalists Award for Foreign Reporting (which he also won twice); the James Thurber Literary Fellowship; an Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship; and a Yaddo Fellowship. He is also the author of Two on the River; King of the Cats: The Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.; and The Haygoods of Columbus: A Family Memoir, which was awarded the Great Lakes Book Award. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr. 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wil Haygood's book is the most compulsively readable biography I've ever had the good fortune to pick up. Sammy Davis, Jr. is my favorite performer of all time - his versatility was astonishing. Mr. Haygood's writing style reflects the energy of this incredible entertainer, capturing and chronicling Sammy's drive for perfection, love, fame. His gusto and greed for attention, affection, and life itself permeates every page. Mr. Haygood postulates at the outset and again at the end that Sammy's mother's indifference was a key influence in his life, yet I did not see much to support this idea in between. Sadly, Sammy turned out to have few parenting skills himself, and largely ignored his three children. The author also hints at the entertainer's alcoholism, but this is not fully explored. Nonetheless, this is a deliciously riveting tale of a nonstop performer, and almost impossible to put down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have just finished this book about the great Sammy Davis, Jr. Not only does the book relate to the person but also to the times in history and in the entertainment field. As an English major and one who respects the field, I found this book to be most enjoyable. The book Starts with vaudeville days when the young Sammy was only four. He became the lead in the Will Mastin Trio and would soon find his way to the big time. He doted on Frank Sinatra so much so that he learned to mimic him; this would lead to a fond relationship with the songster and later, into the Rat Pack. Sammy was a happy person on the inside but he was tortured inside. He wanted to be white. His father and Will had protected him from racial slurs until he was in WWII. This terrified the young man. He was a person who wanted unconditional love is whole life. Sadly he tried to buy love from those around him. Sammy would become the greatest dancer of his time, a singer, a musician, and a film star. Sammy did it all in the showbiz circuit. He will and should be remembered.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A BLOCKBUSTER!!!!! a must read for any who loves great bios,and entertainment books-a glimpse into a life that was lived at a frenetic pace by a one of a kind man. Well researched and well written -thought provoking-honest. the next best thing to talking to sammy yourself...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sammy Davis, Jr., the true 'I Gotta Be Me,' man was not only a topnotch entertainer but also a tortured individual according to this exhaustive biography by journalist Wil Haygood. More than simply a comprehensive biography 'In Black and White' is an intriguing chronicle of black entertainment in our country. Trained by his father and uncle Sammy had no classroom education but a world of stage smarts. As a small child he mastered soft shoe and tap to become the star of the vaudeville threesome 'The Will Mastin Trio.' There seemed to be nothing the youngster couldn't do whether it was singing, dancing, playing an instrument or miming other performers. This energetic bundle of talent couldn't be contained. He burst upon the television screen and was soon a member of Hollywood's celebrated 'Rat Pack' paling around and joking on stage with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Joey Bishop. Nonetheless, Sammy was black and they were white. He was very aware of the difference - where he could stay and where he could not. Once married to a black girl he later started dating blond white actresses and eventually wed May Britt, a union that shocked. He survived a 1954 car accident which caused him to lose an eye, and his face with the black eye patch soon became familiar. For reasons unknown and only surmised he converted to Judaism. When he told Jerry Lewis of his plan, Lewis asked, 'Don't you already have enough problems?' Problems were to dog him for all of his life. Beneath the happy veneer was a wellspring of anguish. 'In Black and White' is a memorable biography of a one-of-a-kind entertainer and an eye-opening glimpse of the world of entertainment as it once was.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Being an avid reader of biographies of call kinds, I was very impressed by this wonderful book. The author takes us through the years of vaudeville with Sammy and explains Sammy's desire to go on his own after starting in Vaudville at age three. Lots of information regarding how Sammy grew up, his unfortunate accident to his triumphs and many personal and professional relationships. Even his worship of Frank Sinatra and the Jewish faith(in that order!). Read this book!