Sammy Davis Jr Biopic In The Works

Sammy Davis Jr.

by James White |
Published on

The complicated, fascinating life of one of the great entertainers of the last century, Sammy Davis Jr. is one that should surely fuel a great biopic if all the elements come together properly. It's an idea that has had a troubled track to the screen, but is gaining new momentum with producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who has Lionel Richie involved in the film behind the scenes and Paramount ready to back the project.

This version of the film will be based on the memoir Yes I Can: The Story Of Sammy Davis Jr. he created in 1965 with Jane and Burt Boyar. In show business from the age of four, Davis Jr. got around child labour laws by holding a miniature cigarette and being billed as "Silent Sam, the Dancing Midget" in his early years. After serving in the Army during World War II, Davis Jr. returned to the stage and screen to growing success. He formed a lifelong friendship with Frank Sinatra when he supported him on tour and found controversy in the 1950s when he converted to Judaism after losing his left eye in a car crash, dated Caucasian actresses at a time when racial segregation was an increasingly hot issue and got involved in the civil rights movement. He was also seen on the big screen, usually with his Rat Pack pals in movies including Ocean's 11 and Cannonball Run.

According to Deadline, it was Richie who helped secure the life and music rights to finally get the story told. "I cannot tell you how excited I am about the signing of the Sammy Davis Jr. project with Paramount," he says. "I knew and loved Sammy dearly. "He was so kind to me at the beginning of my career and gave me advice that helped me become the artist that I am today. I am so happy for his kids that we can bring his story to the screen."

The next step will be to find a writer and director to bring the movie to life, with the studio pushing this one on to the fast track.

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