WHY ME? by Jr. Davis
Kirkus Star

WHY ME?

The Sammy Davis, Jr., Story
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Simply tremendous smash follow-up to Davis and the Boyars' big-selling Yes, I Can (1965), and a magnificent recovery from the limp Hollywood in a Suitcase (1980), which Davis wrote solo. Davis, often billed as The World's Greatest Entertainer, goes down on one knee and grabs for the heartstrings. You may have heard many times before the story of what it's like to be black-skinned in America, but Davis makes it so fresh that your stomach drops with the pain of it. The first half here reprises Yes, I Can, but does so with brilliant pace and fervor. And the fabulous success story of Yes, I Can turns the downhill slide through booze and drugs of the later pages into a blacker black and makes Davis' final recovery more precious. All of Davis' heroes and heroines are drawn with great depth and skill, but especially endearing are his portraits of Frank Sinatra, whose great friendship, humanity, and show-biz wisdom lift Davis from his darkest hours, and of first wife May Britt. Also looming large are fellow Rat Pack members Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Tony Curtis, and Janet Leigh; Davis' personal handlers, to whom he surrenders management of his income while sabotaging their efforts at every turn; and such political figures as John and Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Jesse Jackson. One of the most moving moments here is when Davis and Britt receive an invitation to Kennedy's inauguration, after Davis has knocked himself out at rallies, only to have Kennedy's secretary later call to tell Sammy and Britt not to come--interracial marriage is just too much for the inauguration. Bobby Kennedy is angered by this lily-livered act and makes his own home ever open to the Davises. These passages are set up with extraordinary skill, and the reader experiences Davis' total devastation right along with him. At last Davis is down for the count, his liver severely diseased, his hip ground to a dust by a life of dancing. What next? Find out for yourself. Sammy's greatest show.

Pub Date: May 2nd, 1989
ISBN: 374-28997-2
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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