ANGELES ó Tracey Davis always knew growing up that her
father, Sammy Davis Jr., loved her and her two adopted
brothers, Mark and Jeff.
the legendary performer and member of the Rat Pack
"was married to his work. He wanted a family. But
he didnít know how to prioritize family because work
was his passion. I am not saying that he didnít love
us, but work was his driving force."
admitted that he often didnít know her phone number.
And he didnít even attend her college graduation. But
their relationship evolved when she became an adult.
started hanging out," recalled Davis, a mother of
four who works as a TV and commercial producer in
said things like, ĎDad, I always loved you, but I didnít
like you that much,í" recalled Davis, 52, over
the phone from her home in Brentwood, Tenn. "He
said, ĎWell, I didnít like you that much either.í
It turned out the air needed to be cleared."
the time the powerhouse singer-dancer-actor was
diagnosed with throat cancer in 1989, father and
daughter had a strong bond. While pregnant with her
first son, Sam, Tracey Davis constantly went to his
house in Beverly Hills to visit and talk. And on those
days when Davis couldnít talk, they sat and held
recalls these intimate conversations in "Sammy
Davis Jr.: A Personal Journey With My Father," a
new coffee table book filled with family and historical
photos, which she wrote with Nina Bunche Pierce.
Personal Journey" marks the second book sheís
written about her father, who starred on Broadway in
"Mr. Wonderful" and "Golden Boy,"
appeared in such Rat Pack films as "Oceanís
Eleven" and "Robin and the Seven Hoods,"
headlined in Las Vegas, had his own musical-variety
series and guest starred on countless TV shows, most
notably as himself in a 1972 episode of "All in the
years ago, I wrote ĎSammy Davis Jr.: My Father,í and
it did pretty well," she said. "This was just
kind of coming back to it and looking at it later."
Davis Jr. was practically born in a trunk on Dec. 8,
1925, to vaudevillians Sammy Davis Sr. and Elvera
Sanchez, who was Puerto Rican. The two separated in
1928, and Davisí father and grandmother, Mama, raised
him. At age 3, Davis was singing, dancing and charming
audiences as a member of the Will Mastin Trio with his
father and Will Mastin, whom Davis referred to as Uncle
never went to school, which prompted him to tell his
daughter, "What have I got? No looks, no money, no
education, just talent."
Tracey Davis admitted that it was excruciating at times
to listen to her fatherís horrific stories about the
racial discrimination he had to endure, including
physical abuse, in the Army during World War II. Her
father and African-American entertainers appearing in
Las Vegas in the very restricted 1950s had to stay at
rooming houses outside of town.
to this day, she often thinks about how her father
endured despite the odds. "How did he make it and
so many others not make it?" she said. "He had
talent. But what he went through would have killed a lot
of people or make them bitter or just messed with your
life so bad you couldnít get over it."
dad, she noted, "worried about me a lot. I
think (about) being mixed-race, especially when I was
born. What will the world be like for Tracey? What will
our legacy be for our children? Is it going to be any
wasnít easy for Davis and her mother, Swedish actress
May Britt, when they married in 1960. Britt, who
appeared in such films as 1958ís "The Young
Lions" and the 1959 remake of "The Blue
Angel," was, according to Tracey Davis, dropped by
20th Century Fox because of her relationship with Davis.
the firestorm of controversy, Davis said, her parents
"didnít regret being together." "My mom
loved my dad like crazy, and my dad loved my
mother," she said. "My mother was so lucky
because her parents didnít care."
and Britt divorced in 1968. But their daughter said they
never fell out of love. When she asked her father why
they broke up, he confided: "I just couldnít be
what she wanted me to be. A family man. My performance
schedule was rigorous."
Davis Jr. also had a bromance with Frank Sinatra.
"Dad and Frank were best friends on stage and
off," she said. "He was like a good cushion
he wasnít hesitant about throwing his weight around if
Davis was being excluded because of his color. "Heíd
say, ĎOh, Sammy canít come in here? Then I am not
coming in.í I think it gave my dad such comfort
knowing he had this big brother out there that would go
to the mat for him."
also stopped talking to Davis for a time in the 1970s
when the entertainer begun using drugs. "Frank was
mad he was squandering himself, doing stupid things. He
let dad know about it, and dad was kind of well, I donít
care." Ultimately, Davis did care and apologized to
Davis had been told by her fatherís doctors that he
wouldnít survive to see his first grandson. But her
father promised his daughter that he would survive long
he did. Tracey Davis gave birth to Sam on April 20,
1990. Sammy Davis Jr. died May 16 at age 64.
still gets emotional recalling the day she brought her
newborn son to see her father. "When I came up the
stairs, he saw Sam. He was sitting up in the chair and
tears ó just tears."
father, Davis said, "was incredibly driven and had
a huge heart, a huge zest for life. He had more energy
than anyone I had known. I am grateful for everything he