Sammy Davis Jr. Biopic, Stage Show Planned

Sammy Davis Jr. Driving Car - P 2011
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Sammy Davis Jr. Driving Car - P 2011

Byron Allen's Entertainment Studios has acquired rights to the entertainer's life story.

The life story of the late singer, dancer and actor Sammy Davis Jr. will be developed for the stage and as a feature by Entertainment Studios, it was announced Thursday, on what would have been the entertainer’s 86th birthday.

“Sammy Davis, Jr. was a phenomenal entertainer, icon, and American treasure whose inspirational story has to be told,” said Byron Allen, founder, chairman and CEO of Entertainment Studios.

Entertainment Studios acquired the life rights to the story from Davis’s daughter Tracey Davis, whose mother is actress May Britt, the second of his three wives. 

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“On his deathbed, one of the last things my father told me as he put my face in his hands was: ‘Tracy, tell my story. Warts and all’,” said Tracey Davis. “Byron Allen, who knew and worked with my father, is the perfect producer to help my family and I achieve my father’s dying wish.”

Davis, who died in 1990, started out as a child in vaudeville as a dancer and singer working with his father and uncle. He later became a recording artist.

Davis lost an eye in an auto accident in 1954 but continued to grow as a performer, starring on Broadway in Mr. Wonderful in 1956.

He became even more famous when he was the only African-American who was part of Frank Sinatra’s “Rat Pack,” which led to movies, performances in Las Vegas and elsewhere.

In 1966, Davis had his own variety show on TV, making him one of the first African- Americans to do so. He talked about the racism he faced in his life in interviews and was a supporter of the Civil Rights movement. However, he was criticized in 1970 for publically embracing then President Richard Nixon.

Davis died deep in debt to the IRS of throat cancer. His estate was left to fight years of legal battles.