SAMMY DAVIS JR., MY FATHER by Tracey Davis

SAMMY DAVIS JR., MY FATHER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Conversational memoir by the late performer's daughter, with the help of Associated Press arts and entertainment editor Barclay. Sammy Davis Jr. was an absentee father; he was always on the road. But even when he was around, he embarrassed Tracey. He showed up at her school in a stretch limousine. He was late for her high school graduation, and the school, to which he had contributed a baseball field, wouldn't begin the ceremony without him. He missed Tracey's college graduation entirely; he missed her birthday parties; he sent cash. Rather than someone with her own identity, Tracey became ``Tracey Two Commas: Tracey comma daughter of Sammy Davis Jr. comma.'' With a laundry list of resentments, just before her wedding, Tracey traveled to Las Vegas to talk to her dad. He was a world-famous entertainer who smoked, drank, drugged, and once joined a group of satanists to boost his energy level; she was a civilian. But once they cleared the air, Tracey was able to express her appreciation of his talent, his eccentricities, and his character. She describes the racial discrimination he suffered: Being doused with white house-paint by a fellow soldier; getting hate mail when he married Tracey's mother, a white woman, actress May Britt; having his life threatened repeatedly. Davis began entertaining when he was three, on the road with his father and uncle, often with little food. As a successful entertainer, he spent enormous amounts of money: Tracey talks about looking for wedding clothes with $20,000 in her pocket. After a lot of complaining, Tracey seems to grow up as she describes Davis's ordeal with terminal throat cancer. Tracey hasn't inherited her father's sense of humor or showmanship, but there's a realness about her account that gives it some power. She sounds just like somebody's kid. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 1-881649-84-9
Page count: 288pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1996