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Posts tagged ‘Sammy Davis Jr’

Johnny Hartman

Johnny Hartman was one of the best balladeers of all time. Even though he was the only singer ever to record with John Coltrane, he never achieved much notoriety until more than a decade after his death when Clint Eastwood used several of his songs in the movie “Bridges Of Madison County.” The song in this clip is “It Never Entered My Mind” (Rogers and Hart 1940). I believe it comes from “The Sammy Davis Jr Show” which aired 4 episodes in April of 1966.

Okay, when did Sammy find time in his “busy being brilliant” schedule to learn to play the vibes? It’s killing me that I know the song Sammy is playing but I can’t for the life of me think what it’s called. By the way, Sammy Davis Jr, a genius but, by all accounts, a lovely man. What is the opposite of screeching man-diva anyway?

Also, if I could only choose 5 albums to be stranded on a desert island with I’d probably lapse into a coma of apoplectic indecision and miss the boat entirely. So I guess that’s a good thing…

Sam’s Song But Whither Lew Qualding?

“Sam’s Song” was written by Jack Elliot and Lew Quadling. I was able to find some info on Jack Elliot but there’s nothing on poor Lew Quadling. He doesn’t even have his own Wikipedia page even though he’s written hits for the likes of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Doris Day! I have half a mind to start one for him except I’m not sure if I can find enough info to make even a stub page.  Here are Sammy and Dean having a bit of fun with this great LEW QUADLING classic. (search engines take note)

I got curious and checked. All the Mystery Science Theater 3000 alums have Wikipedia pages which is as it should be. An interesting thing I discovered while searching though is that Frank’s dad, Frank Conniff Sr. also has a page. It’s a short but interesting article. The guy won a Pulitzer Prize! Next time I see Frank I hope I remember to ask if he’s considered adding a picture to the article since I know he’s got at least two great ones. Lots of folks knock it but I’m a fan of Wikipedia. Even if it has ignored Lew Quadling so far, I’m glad it gave props to the senior Mr. C!

More Sammy

“Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home” comes from the Broadway play “St Louis Woman” which is was a musical comedy about infidelity, domestic violence, and murder so you know it was hilarious! It is a fantastic song and Sammy sings it beautifully as always.

I’ll be packing up to head to St Louis myself this time next week where I will be a St. Louis woman for about 48 hours. I will try to keep the fisticuffs and gun play to a minimum but I can’t promise anything. After all, if musical theater says violence must ensue, I may be powerless to resist the thrall. In the meantime, we dance! Er… watch a clip of dancing anyway…

This is almost certainly from “The Sammy Davis Jr. Show” though I couldn’t find which episode. I have nothing more to add except tap dancing always makes me smile!

Sammy On Jerry Lewis Telethon

Jerry Lewis began hosting the MDA Telethon in 1956. Since then he and countless celebrities have entertained audiences across several continents and raised millions of dollars for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Jerry’s also ticked off a lot of people with disabilities who resent the use of pity to emotionally manipulate people into donating money. I found a half hour documentary on the subject that I thought was pretty good. Here’s a link to watch it online:

The Kids Are All Right

There’s no pity plea in this telethon clip though! It’s just Sammy Davis Jr’s fantastic rendition of “Great Come And Get It Day” from “Finian’s Rainbow.” On a side note, is it just me or is Sammy seriously limping in this video?

Even though I agree with the disability rights advocates and I haven’t tuned in to the telethon in decades, I can’t honestly say I stopped watching because of my strong commitment to civil rights. I just got bored with it. I’m grateful for clips like this that show us what an entertainment extravaganza this show was in its heyday, but I am also glad the telethon appears to be slowly fading away.

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.

Sammy and Fabulous Places

“Sammy Davis Jr. Sings The Complete ‘Dr. Doolittle’” was also released in 1967. I couldn’t find any information on whether or not it outsold the original film soundtrack but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it did. Here’s Sammy’s version of “Fabulous Places.”

I’m headed to all kinds of fabulous places this summer! Next month I’ll be meeting up with Twitter friends in Minneapolis. We’re going to see the sights and see a show. In July I’ll be heading into Ann Arbor. I’ll hook up with old and new  friends and see two fabulous shows. My August ‘do’ got canceled unfortunately but in September I’m going to Atlanta for Dragoncon! I’ll get to see old friends and hopefully meet new ones. It’ll be my very first Con so I’m super excited! I just love all the traveling and socializing I get to do with my new groupie lifestyle.

Sammy Davis, Connie Francis, and the Childhood Traumas of the Rich and Famous

Sammy’s version of “Blame It On My Youth”  appears on the 1961 album “Wham of Sam.” Unfortunately I can’t find Sammy’s version of that song. So here he is doing another lovely but somber ballad “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me).” It looks like it might have been close to the same time period.

Oscar Levant was quite a prolific composer. A few of his tunes made the hit parade but, as Frank said, only “Blame It On My Youth” became a jazz standard. Oscar was really much better known as a radio and television humorist. He was infamous for his hilariously baudy comments which often aired uncensored on live TV. He was a deeply troubled and insecure man who used his personal struggles in his comedy act. I think his sadness is well reflected in the song as well. Here’s a Connie Francis’ version of “Blame It On My Youth.”

Though the word “Youth” in this song means age and inexperience with the ways of love, I have been thinking of the title a lot as I watch “Ken Burns’ Jazz” documentary. So far it seems that almost all of the greatest legends in jazz music had epically terrible childhoods! I begin to think perhaps genius does not equal madness so much as it equals bad childhood and the madness is just a by product for many. I haven’t studied the bios of many comedians but I’ve heard that they often suffer similar turmoil.When my daughter grows up I think I’ll know I’ve done my job well if I can say “Well at least she’s not a jazz or comic legend!”

Young Sammy Davis

I have been watching some amazing tap dance clips on YouTube because I love tap. There’s a great Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell dance number that makes my upper lip sweat with awesome but I couldn’t find it to post. There were so many great moments out there that I was hard pressed to find one replacement. This early Sammy Davis Jr number finally won on strength of cuteness. I’d give my eye teeth to know where it’s from.

I wanted tap dancing lessons as a kid. Tap lessons were surprisingly expensive so Mom signed me up for ballet. I was a fat kid stuffed in a pink leotard and tutu. I looked like a vienna sausage and I was about half as graceful. Mercifully the lessons didn’t last long. I never did get my tap lessons which is probably a good thing. Now I can pretend I would have been great at it without pesky truth interfering with my delusion.

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