Wonderful Tunes Provided By Friends. Wild Tangents Provided By Me.

Will Mastin Trio

I’m not sure of the order but I think that’s Sam Sr on the left, Sam Jr in the middle of course, and Will Mastin on the right. The three men started performing together in the 20’s when Sammy Davis Jr was just 3 or 4 (sources conflict). They continued working together through the 60’s even while Sammy Jr was at the height of his fame. I don’t know for sure but I think this is probably a clip from the 1947 movie “Sweet and Low.” If nothing else we know that this performance is before 1954 because Sammy Jr hadn’t lost his eye yet. I love a great tap number and this is a great tap number!

When I was a kid back in the 70’s, it was popular to reject the work of many early 20th century African-American performers because it was considered too stereotypical and insulting. These performers’ works were actually banned from our home in a lot of cases so I didn’t get the chance to see them until I was an adult. I’m ashamed to say there are way too many great performances I still haven’t seen.

Sammy Davis Jr got caught up in the civil rights Uncle Tom blacklisting too  because of some of his personal and professional choices. In our house though, Sammy was always an exception. We watched him whenever he was on. I’m not sure why Sammy got special immunity with my arrogantly afroed ancestors. I guess it really doesn’t matter in the long run. I’m just glad I got to grow up appreciating the talent of at least one of my favorite heroes.

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