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Me And My Shadow

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Sammy Davis Jr., Me and My Shadow

A Biographical Memoir by: Arthur Silber Jr.

OVERVIEW

Entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. was a human dynamo; a powerhouse of talent and the favorite son of the show-biz universe for decades. His story has been told on television, in magazine articles and in various biographies on which Sammy was "consulted" but these renditions only skimmed the surface. Even Sammy's autobiography Yes I Can did not contain the whole truth. At that time, it was too dangerous for him to tell it.

Arthur Silber Jr. was Sammy's production manager, assistant, business partner, constant traveling companion and, most importantly, his best friend, closest confidant and blood brother from 1946 until circumstances forced a parting of ways in 1966. Sammy Davis Jr. The Good Years is an eyewitness account of the famous entertainer's never-before-told adventures on the road and off recalled in colorful detail by a man who stood by his side through it all, a man considered by Sammy to be "family".

Art Silber was there to teach Sammy to drive and to keep him from driving a bullet through his brain when despair over his lost love affair with Kim Novak destroyed his will to live. The author was with Sammy in Las Vegas in its heyday when the Mob ruled and wild parties with willing chorus girls were the nightly norm. It was Arthur Silber who witnessed first-hand, the indignities of racial prejudice the famous entertainer faced when he wasn't allowed to even stroll through the Las Vegas hotels he made successful with his performances. Silber was there and risked his life along with Sammy as the entertainer broke all the rules, thus opening doors for people of color everywhere.

Former accounts of the "best buddy" antics of the famous "Rat Pack" are negated as the author reveals the truly dark side of the group; the cruel racial jokes at Sammy's expense that the small man with the big heart endured in order to fit in with the big boys. Silber was there to bolster his best friend's pride when Frank and Dean shattered it on stage nightly.

As young men with incredible access to the upper echelon of show business, Sammy and Art had lunch with Princess Grace of Monaco and chatted with the Queen of England. Encounters and friendships with immortals like Judy Garland, Gregory Peck, Milton Berle, Maurice Chevalier, Eddie Cantor and stars of the day like Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, Jeff Chandler, Nat King Cole and David Niven are described with humor and panache. The blood brothers went on wild shopping sprees as their hobbies fluctuated from cameras and guns to golf. The two bought swords and swash buckled through the halls of the famous Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. They had Western "quick draw" competitions at a moment's notice as Arthur and Sammy learned these skills that Sammy would later use in his act and also helped him make up for a lost childhood.

When Sammy lost his eye in the often-documented car wreck, it was Silber who was constantly at the hospital holding his hand and helping convince him to go on living.

When the young friends met the loves of their lives and each saw that love shattered, they were there for each other with mutual support.

Silber had been on hand to set up and facilitate trysts between young lovers Sammy and star Kim Novak and when Sammy was forced by the Mob to end his relationship with Kim and marry a black woman, Silber provided a strong shoulder for his friend to cry on as Sammy's despair led to attempted suicide. When Art's engagement to a beautiful chorus girl was broken, it was Sammy who helped pick up the pieces.

Over twenty-two years, some of the best years in the life and career of Sammy Davis Jr., years packed with incredible success and shattering despair, years of breaking down racial barriers and building a unique and enduring show business legend, were shared by an unlikely duo, two strong Jewish men; a 5' 6" Black dynamo from Harlem and a White 6-footer from Hollywood Sammy Davis Jr. The Good Years is that story. You'll never hear it told anywhere else.

A FEW HIGHLIGHTS

This unique book will be fully illustrated with three full sections of remarkable photographs from the personal archives of Sammy Davis Jr. and Arthur Silber Jr. 99% of the exclusive photos, many taken by the author himself, have never been seen or published before anywhere!!

THE EARLY YEARS

Sammy never has a real childhood. He is taught right and wrong by his grandma. The rest is self taught or learned from performers on the road. He teaches himself to read but never learns to write more than to sign autographs.

Where child performers weren't allowed on stage, Sammy is passed off as a performing midget.

When Sam is 20 and Art 15, they meet in Hawaii. They share a love of movies and stunt work and become fast friends. Art, the only White in Sammy's immediate world, is totally color-blind.

GOING TO WORK FOR SAMMY

Art is hired as Sammy's personal and production assistant. He stays with Sammy and his dancing uncle and dad in the "Colored" hotels on the road witnessing horrible prejudice first-hand.

The friends hang out in New York at Lindy's with big time comics, Milton Berle, Red Buttons and Jackie Gleason, and his first brushes with the Mob.

Sammy breaks the color barrier by being the first Black artist to play the famous Copacabana and The Beachcomber in Miami Beach.

The friends suffer prejudice in the Deep South.

SAMMY HITS THE BIG TIME

Sammy plays Ciros in L.A. and The Fairmont in San Francisco. Sammy, no Denzel, is a chick magnet.

Art and Sam play pinball with mobster Sam Giancana and pals in Chicago.

The two buy swords and swashbuckle through the Fairmont and learn to fast draw with the best of the cowboys.

A stray bullet ricochets through a nightclub.

BACK IN HOLLYWOOD

Art teaches Sammy to Drive.

Judy Garland sells Sammy her house. Maurice Chevalier gives Sammy his hat.

Eddie Cantor champions Sammy against bigots and interests him in the Jewish religion.

Steve McQueen takes Art for a wild ride.

We become good friends with Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis.

SAMMY TAKES ON VEGAS

Sammy challenges the mob and is finally given a hotel room. Fans mob him in the casino.

The Mob puts Art in charge of keeping him in line.

Art comforts Sammy in the hospital after his horrible accident. He tells Art, "I'm really scared to Hell and back!" Jeff Chandler offers an eye.

RECOVERY AND THE RETURN

Sammy recovers at Frank Sinatra's house. Art is at an isolated rehearsal hall when Sammy tries to dance again for the first time. Sammy plays Ciros in LA. and Art talks him through his stage fright.

BACK TO VEGAS

Sammy plays the Sands. Art and Sammy are surrounded by wild women and angry mobsters. Sammy takes on the mob, visits every casino on the strip and deals blackjack.

Art fears for their lives.

TRUE LOVE

Art falls for a beautiful Texas chorus girl. Sammy falls for Kim Novak. Both romances are doomed. Art helps Sammy and Kim find time alone.

Sammy is forced by the Hollywood Mob to marry a black woman and give up Kim or end up in a hole in the desert. Sammy marries singer Loray White. Sammy tries to commit suicide. Art stops him.

THE MOB RULES

Mobsters take over Sammy's finances despite Art's objections.

The two form Samart Enterprises, a mob-free development and production company.

Sammy turns down the inventors of "fizzies" and the clip on tie.

HOB-NOBBING WITH ROYALTY

Sammy does a Royal Command performance for the Queen and Art gets the only picture of them together.

Art and Sammy have lunch with Princess Grace in Monaco.

Sammy performs for the Queen Mum.

SAMMY, MAY BRITT AND THE NAZIS

Sammy marries Swedish film star May Britt. The American press crucifies him. Frank Sinatra vows his aid.

Art takes on a van full of protesting neo-Nazis with the help of Soho toughs.

Nazis picket Sammy in the nation's capitol. Death and bomb threats.

THE RAT PACK MYTH- REFUTED

The famed Rat Pack does only 3 shows and makes 3 movies.

Frank and Dean launch racial slurs at Sammy that cut him deeply. Art tells him that by cooperating, he's selling out all he's done for racial justice.

REFUGE IN EUROPE

Sammy does a show at a top secret British base. Art and Sam tour Scotland Yard's Black Museum and watch horror movies film at Hammer Studios. Sammy frightens everyone with a stolen Mummy mask! Wild sight-seeing in Rome.

Sammy is honored by fellow performers and the Royal Scottish Grenadier Guards at the Prince of Wales Theater.

Sammy cries on stage for the first time.

THE MOB FORCES ART OUT

Art is running Samart Enterprises trying to find movie projects and new inventions. Sammy turns down a great script and two successful inventors.

The mob cuts Art's job in bogus cost cutting move. Sammy feels helpless. His nave attitude costs him millions and, for a time, his best friend.

ART RETURNS BRIEFLY

May divorces Sammy when he can't be a hands-on dad.

Six years later, deep in debt, drugs and drink, Sammy asks Art to return as his tour producer.

Sammy is surrounded by users and Art is still his only trustworthy friend.

After tours in Australia and Canada, Sammy's lifelong friend can no longer watch his determined decline and resigns.

All rights reserved. No part of the content on the Samartsstorytime.com web pages may be reproduced except with the express written permission of Samart Enterprises. Note from the Editors: errors in grammar are intentional in an effort to keep the vernacular of Arthur Silber Jr., a gifted storyteller, intact. Artwork by Klaus Ernst, copyright by Samarts Story Time Enterprises.

 

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Last modified: May 05, 2005

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