The legendary singer, actor, and all-around entertainer was born into the world of show business. He entered the world in Harlem in the mid-1920s, to two parents who were stage performers themselves. His family taught him how to dance early on, but like most men of his time, he got drafted into military service before starting to professionally record music in 1949.
In ’53, he got his own television show, which shone a spotlight on struggling African American entertainers, and it was all uphill for him after that.
JFK Verses Sammy Davis Jr.
Although Kennedy would join up with the Rat Pack to enjoy the male bonding, not all of the members were happy about it. Apparently, the president made some offensive remarks to Sammy Davis Jr. that made him uneasy. He wasn’t a big fan of JFK from that point on.
It was something that Sammy Davis Jr. held on to for years, even until long after JFK’s assassination. But in 1987, he was honored by the Kennedy Center, which eased his feelings about the situation at least somewhat, if not fully.
Marilyn Monroe’s Role in the Gang
One can only speculate how things went down between women like Marilyn Monroe and influential men in her time. The actress had romantic ties to several members (and friends) of The Rat Pack, including Frank Sinatra and JFK.
The group had a lot to do with the iconic moment Monroe sang “Happy Birthday” to the president. She performed for him at a 1962 Democratic rally.
The Will Mastin Trio
When Sammy Davis Jr. was still a child, his uncle, Will Mastin, taught him how to dance. After that, he joined his act, which led to his rise in fame. Even after he started to book bigger and bigger things, he kept including the Will Mastin Trio (his act’s name) in his billing credits.
The entertainer was just 18 years old when he was drafted into the Army in 1943. Unfortunately, he would experience a large amount of intolerance from the soldiers who served with him.
White, mainly Southern, soldiers would relentlessly abuse Davis, due simply to his skin color and their ignorance. Because of their inability to control themselves, Davis admitted that he was in a “knockdown, drag-out fight every two days.”
Finally, he was transferred to the Special Services branch of the Army and got to put on performances for the troops. And, during at least one of those shows, he had to perform for the soldiers who had abused him.