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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 16, 2009 / 24 Tamuz 5769

Death of the World's Greatest Entertainer

By Larry Elder



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The world's greatest entertainer died — 19 years ago. His name is Sammy Davis Jr.


At Michael Jackson's memorial, Motown founder Berry Gordy called the late, incredibly talented Jackson "the greatest entertainer that ever lived." Someone once said that Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire's famous dance partner, did everything he did — except backward and wearing high heels. Well, Sammy Davis Jr. did everything Michael Jackson did — and more, much more — except during Jim Crow and with one eye.


Davis sang. He danced. He acted. He played piano, drums and trumpet. He did impressions of the popular celebrities of his time. Gifted with excellent timing, Davis wove comedy into his act, always writing or improvising his own material.


Davis, like Jackson, became the focal point in a group of entertainers — except Davis started on the stage when he was 3 and fronted the Will Mastin Trio as a teen. He never attended school — not even elementary school — and grew up on the road, without his mother.


Jackson came up hard. Davis came up harder. Try reading Davis' best-selling (15 million copies) autobiography, "Yes I Can," written with his longtime friend and confidant, Burt Boyar. It tells the journey of an astonishingly gifted and successful performer, a highly intelligent, self-educated, voracious reader, a man both confident and insecure — in an era of segregation, lynchings and civil rights marches.


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Davis worked hard. Davis played hard. His personal life and decisions and excesses attracted and repelled both blacks and whites. Yet however Davis' audience may have felt about him, it could never question his unparalleled talent.


"Yes I Can" describes some of the horrific racism endured by the legendary performer. For example, during World War II, Davis served in one of the Army's first integrated units. Once, some white members of his unit surprisingly invited Davis, sitting alone in a bar, to come over and join them for a drink. One of the guys handed him a beer. Suspicious, Davis refused to drink it. Good thing. The liquid in the mug was not beer, but urine.


During the Jackson memorial, we heard how he brought people of different races together. While Davis headlined at The Sands in Las Vegas in the late 1950s, the NAACP threatened a strike against the casinos because they wouldn't hire blacks in more prominent, visible positions. Davis told The Sands' president, Jack Entratter, "You've got to hire more blacks up front, not hidden in the kitchen." Entratter copped out, deferring to racist owners and high rollers. Davis told him, "Then you'll be embarrassed, because I'll be right out front picketing with them." Entratter gave in, and The Sands was not struck. Davis also marched for civil rights in places like Selma and the 1963 March on Washington.


He vigorously campaigned for John F. Kennedy in 1960. At the time, Davis — despite the danger to his career, if not his life — was engaged to white rising-star actress May Britt. To avoid alienating voters, Davis postponed their wedding until after the election. His reward? The newly elected President withdrew Davis' invitation to the inaugural to appease those offended by the recently married high-profile interracial couple. And 20th Century Fox, to which Britt was under contract, invoked the morals clause and let her go, effectively ending her career.


A brief word about Jackson's "moonwalk." Davis performed that move — a derivative of soft shoe — in front of audiences long before Michael was born. Indeed, young Michael frequently visited the Davis' home to watch tapes of Davis dancing and performing. As Davis told his friend Boyar: "It's such a gas when the kids like what you do enough to copy you. It's so flattering."


Before a show, Davis would pick out his first couple of songs, and then, after getting a feel for the audience, he would ad-lib the rest — comedic patter, songs, impressions, playing the trumpet — sensing what the crowd wanted. Boyar once accompanied Davis to a gig where the entertainer's band failed to show. "What are you going to do?" asked Boyar. Davis replied, "If I can't go out there with a comb and tissue paper and entertain those people, then I'm not the entertainer people say I am." Davis literally went onstage with a comb and tissue paper, captivating the audience for more than two hours. He did it, as always, without choreographers, directors, backup dancers or comedy writers.


Severely injured in an automobile accident, Davis lost one eye. He performed for a while with an eye patch and then with a glass eye for the rest of his career. He never missed a beat.


He portrayed a boxer in the Broadway play "Golden Boy," receiving a Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. He also appeared in numerous television shows — receiving several Emmy nominations and one win — and movies, including the original "Ocean's Eleven."


A photographer, Davis captured fascinating shots of the famous — Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis — and the not-so-famous, of the rich and of the poor. (See Boyar's coffee-table book, "Photo by Sammy Davis, Jr.," a remarkable collection of pictures taken by Davis.)


No disrespect to Michael, but come on, Sammy is in a class by himself.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Larry Elder is the author of, most recently, "Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card--and Lose." (Proceeds from sales help fund JWR)

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