Monday, December 8, 2014

Photo by Sammy Davis Jr. with Burt Boyar

Photo by Sammy Davis Jr. with Burt Boyar
Antonio G. Pereira © 2014 Antonio G. Pereira

        During his lifetime, Sammy Davis Jr. created a Photographic Archive of his life. This began in the latter 1940s, post World War II, after he had served in the Army, and The Will Mastin Trio was still struggling in the remnants of Vaudeville. Followed by their appearances on early television (The story of the Trio's presentation on The Colgate Comedy Hour and Sammy's relationship with the host of the show Eddie Cantor, is well documented in 'Photo', by Burt Boyar; and indicative of the continuing spectre of Race, that America is still yet to finally and permanently overcome.), the breakthrough performance at Ciro's nightclub in Hollywood in the early 1950s, and Sammy's subsequent life as one of the biggest stars on the planet; as he became a solo artist, while Will Mastin and his father Davis Sr. retired. Also clearly visable in the photographs, is the obvious love and admiration in the faces of the fraternity of friends and very close friends in the world of entertainment, in which Sammy Davis Jr. lived. The author, Burt Boyar and his late wife Jane, were two of his closest friends, and co-authored his first and last autobiographies, 'Yes I Can' and 'Why Me?' 'Photo' was posthumously put together by Burt Boyar after the passing of both Sammy Davis Jr. and Jane Boyar. Through Mr. Davis' obvious talent as a photographer, we see America's changing face. His eye for catching subjects in special moments is remarkable. Whether it's his friends or his family or people he just met briefly or persons who touched his life deeply (Martin Luther King Jr., Bobby Kennedy, the mother of his children and the love of his life, May Britt), he leaves a lasting impression of some magic he was able to capture and record with his camera.
        It is rather odd now, as I look back over Sammy Davis' life while going through 'Photo', that he reminds me (in his personage as a photographer) of the character that Sidney Poitier played in one of the most unusual and haunting films he ever made, named 'Brother John'.
        I most appreciated the Afterword written by Burt Boyar, that ended the book. In the Afterword, Mr. Boyar permanently jettisons any misconceptions and lies aimed at his dear friend. These misconceptions and lies being the products of envy, jealousy, resentment and outright hatred, created by people who themselves never contributed anything worthwhile other than their rotten opinions; led empty lives, and took comfort in spreading the misinformation that Sammy Davis Jr. left his family cash poor. Mr. Boyar was nice enough to detail the facts on this subject very clearly thank you. A great ending to this book.
Well worth reading and Highly Recommended.

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