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Photo by Sammy Davis, Jr.by Burt Boyar
Synopses & Reviews
Sammy Davis Jr.—iconic, legendary, in a word, classic. While the world has long known of Davis's unparalleled abilities to sing, dance, and act, only his closest friends and associates knew of his amazing talent and passion for photography. Now, in this collection of never-before-seen photos, Burt Boyar, Davis's longtime friend, exposes these memorable images for generations of his fans, portraying a side of Davis that has long remained a secret to the world at large. Here are Davis's candid shots including his closest friends—Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Sean Connery, and Paul Newman—not to mention scores of the twentieth century's biggest stars captured at their most casual and revealing moments.
But beneath this public veneer is also a strikingly private side of Davis, one that gives a glimpse into his difficult past and long road to success. Tracing Davis from his humble origins, the moments captured here demonstrate the struggle that he faced as an African-American performer during racially divided times and show the difficulties of being one of the country's most revered celebrities when his mere presence signaled the changes taking shape across America.
Accompanying these unforgettable images are Boyar's intimate remembrances of Davis, as he gives a history and a context for many of Davis's striking photographs. Together with the photos, Boyar's words offer a side of the performer far removed from his Rat Pack persona—one that is at once touching and fascinating.
"So often photographs tell the story of — or offer insights into — their subjects, but in this collection of photos taken by Sammy Davis Jr., beginning in the early 1950s, the story told is that of the photographer. Boyar, who co-wrote with his wife, Jane, three autobiographies with Davis (Yes I Can; Why Me?; Sammy), now offers these beautiful archival snapshots that Davis took of his friends, family and acquaintances. 'Jerry [Lewis] gave me my first important camera, my first 35 millimeter, during the Ciro's period, early '50s,' Boyar quotes Davis. 'And he hooked me.' The photos that follow are rare shots of his father dancing onstage as part of the Will Mastin Trio; fun, candid snapshots as only a close friend can take of Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, James Dean, Nat 'King' Cole and Marilyn Monroe; of politicians (and family members) he associated with, like Robert Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr.; and most touching — and rare — are photos of his one-time wife May Britt and their three children, Tracey, Jeff and Mark. Boyar writes that 'Sammy's camera often served as a shield' to gain access to places he couldn't because of his color. Again quoting Davis, 'Nobody interrupts a man taking a picture to ask... 'What's that nigger doin' here?' ' As an entertainer and photographer, Davis was able to enter into many worlds." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Sammy Davis, Jr. will forever be remembered as one of America's finest entertainers. An all-around performer who could sing, dance, and act, Davis broke racial barriers in the entertainment world and became the only non-white member of the Rat Pack. Only now, however, is Davis's talent as a photographer finally being recognized. In this previously unpublished collection of black and white photography, readers will be fascinated by Davis's portrayals of A-list performers, iconic world leaders, and scenes from everyday life. Davis's subjects include dozens of classic celebrities-such as Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, and James Dean-who are often photographed at their most casual and revealing moments.
Accompanying the pictures is an assortment of remembrances by Burt Boyar, a longtime friend and traveling companion of Davis who collaborated with the entertainer on both of his autobiographies. Through a series of memorable anecdotes, Boyar reflects on Davis's many achievements as well as the private moments they shared as friends. Along with Davis's candid shots of ordinary life-from a group of children laughing to a baseball game at the Washington Monument-these stories reveal a side of the performer far removed from his Rat Pack persona.
The release of this book will also coincide with the release of Burt Boyar's upcoming documentary, Sammy Speaks, created from his extensive archive of taped conversations with the star.
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