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Burt Boyar collection of Sammy Davis, Jr. biographical materials, 1954-2000

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RYL 4362-4396 Recorded Interviews, Performances, and Public Appearances, 1954-1988 , undated ; bulk 1985-1988
Transferred to the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division in 2012, the audiocassettes and digital files have not been processed and preserved. For information about availability, please consult reference staff in the Recorded Sound Reference Center well in advance of visiting.
Recorded interviews, 1985-1988
35 sound cassettes :
Thirty-five numbered audiocassette tapes of Burt and Jane Boyar's interviews with Sammy Davis, Jr., conducted between 1985 and 1988, for Why Me, the follow-up book to Yes I Can. Tapes 1, 29, and 30 are unaccounted for.
Arranged by cassette number.
RYL 4362 No. 2: 1985 October , Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include the book Yes I Can; Tom Jones urging him to perform his now signature song "Mr. Bojangles" and his initial resistance to doing so; the mutual respect that he and his wife Altovise had for each other as performers; the public's perceptions of the stages in a performer's career and life.
RYL 4363 No. 3: 1985 October , Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include his salary, personal and business expenses, taxes and assets (such as his luxury cars: Corvette, Ferrari, Jaguar, Mercedes Benz and Stutz Blackhawk).
RYL 4364 No. 4: 1985 October , Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include entertaining the American troops in Vietnam; his feelings about the Vietnam War; health issues, such as arthritis and "dancer's hip."
RYL 4365 No. 5: 1985 October , Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include starring on a television soap opera; Altovise and her television show; struggles with alcoholism and drug abuse; Edward Kennedy; John McEnroe; "The NBC Follies."
RYL 4366 No. 6: 1986 March 30 , Reno, Nevada
Topics include the Broadway production of Golden Boy; critic Elliot Norton meeting with book author Bill Gibson and producer Hillard Elkins; replacing director Peter Coe with Arthur Penn; the negative backlash against a love scene between Davis and white actress Paula Wayne.
RYL 4367 No. 7: 1986 March , Reno, Nevada
Topics include Jerry Lewis; the movie One More Time and his experience in London during the film's production; Satanism.
RYL 4368 No. 8: 1986 March-April , Reno, Nevada
Topics include his struggles with alcohol and drugs; the Richard Nixon administration; his stays at the White House; his two marriage ceremonies with Altovise; his relationships with Howard Hughes, Marilyn Chambers, Loretta Young, Lucille Ball, Will Mastin, Joe Grant (his bodyguard), Sy Marsh (his agent), Molly Marsh and Bill Cosby; aging and death.
RYL 4369 No. 9: 1986 March-April , Reno, Nevada
Topics include his friendships with Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Linda Evans, Joan Collins; his clothing style; assassination of John F. Kennedy; George Hamilton and Robert Mitchum in the film Home from the Hill; his relationship with Harry Belafonte; drug use; Peter Lawford.
RYL 4370 No. 10: 1986 March-April , Reno, Nevada
Topics include previous titles to Yes I Can; his marriages to May Britt and Altovise; fatherhood; the secrets to his success and how he has become accustomed to it; Michael Silver; his relationship with and the death of George Rhodes (his conductor and musical director).
RYL 4371 No. 11: 1986 March-April , Reno, Nevada
Topics include his friendship with Jesse Jackson; Jesse Jackson's Operation PUSH organization; working on the Richard Nixon campaign; negative backlash he received after hugging Richard Nixon; interview with Eddie Peterson, who was Sammy Davis' business manager for nineteen years.
RYL 4372 No. 12: 1986 , Los Angeles, California
Topics include his inadequacies as a father; fashion trendsetting; favorite retail stores in Paris; prejudice against Blacks in the entertainment business and in general; financial troubles; his relationships with Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.
RYL 4373 No. 13: 1986 , Desert Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include performing at the Desert Inn; how to portray genuine emotion and personality during a performance; nightclub audiences; gambling; salaries; being introduced to the song "Mr. Bojangles" by Tom Jones; Jerry Lewis; Danny Kaye; having confidence as a performer; the nature of show business; his and Johnny Carson's failed investment in the DeLorean car company.
RYL 4374 No. 14: 1986 , Desert Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include financial troubles; Frank Sinatra's domestic life and home; the Hotel de Paris in France; health problems; hip surgery; partying; what it's like to be the boss of his staff; racism; alcoholism; drug abuse; his relationships with Nancy (Davis) Reagan and Johnny Carson; the ghosts of Dolly Madison and Abraham Lincoln in the White House; performance techniques.
RYL 4375 No. 15: 1986 , Desert Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include photographs of himself, Elvis, bullfighter Carlos Arruza, the Vietnam War and the cast of The Cannonball Run movies; his gun collection; his friendship with Frank Sinatra; Dick Powell; Rosa B. (his maternal grandmother); Colton Dinner Theater; doing benefits; the Black American experience in the 1960s and 1970s; Yes I Can; the Broadway production of Stop the World - I Want to Get Off; the Johnny Carson Show; feeding lines to actors; the conflict between Jackie Garfinkel and Altovise.
RYL 4376 No. 16: 1986 , Desert Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include Mel Tormé; his relationship with the black and white American communities; the Vietnam War; his expectations for the sequel to Yes I Can; his career and getting older; womanizing; his friendships with Ruby Rosa and Soraya Esfandiary Bakhtiari, who was the Princess of Iran; White Elephant Club in London and owner Stella Richman; Paris; parties in Las Vegas; Israel and the Jewish people; Bill Cosby; Jenny Jones; entertainers ending their careers at their peak.
RYL 4377 No. 17: 1986 , Desert Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include hip surgery; medicine and doctors; his wish to be an entertainment spokesperson for Harrod’s (Holiday Inn); his neglect of Altovise's alcholism; the death of George Rhodes (his conductor and musical director); smoking; unknown content on Side B (tape requires repair).
RYL 4378 No. 18: 1986 , Desert Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include his enduring popularity; being an older entertainer and reuniting with former colleagues for projects; The Cannonball Run movies; Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra; Shirley MacLaine; Burt Reynolds; Bill Robinson and the song "Mr. Bojangles"; alcoholism; the quality of a good joke; the 1975 show Sammy and Company; his hair and hair care; Side B is blank.
RYL 4379 No. 19: 1986 , Desert Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include how entertainers must maintain a broad appeal; analyzing audiences; his friendships with Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Burt Reynolds; The Cannonball Run movies; how he prepares for performances.
RYL 4380 No. 20: 1986 , Desert Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include Clint and Maggie Eastwood; separating from May Britt and meeting Altovise; his friendship with Jesse Jackson; allowing his house to be used for meetings during America's Civil Rights movement by Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Black Panthers.
RYL 4381 No. 21: 1986 , Desert Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include meeting John F. Kennedy via Peter Lawford; campaigning for John and Robert Kennedy; Black Americans rejecting him after the "Nixon hug"; Altovise's alcoholism.
RYL 4382 No. 22: 1986 , Desert Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include hip surgery; brainstorming about the book title for the sequel to Yes I Can; Linda Lovelace; Marilyn Chambers; Chuck Traynor; pornographic films; his love affairs; friendships with women; Lisa Hartman; life in Reno, Nevada; self-esteem problems in his youth; ambition; Count Basie; Walter Winchell; Nat King Cole.
RYL 4383 No. 23: 1986 , Desert Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include movie budgets; his desire to produce a film about Blacks in World War II and another about the story of Haiti; the movie Brother from Another Planet; his desire to play the lead role of a hit man like that of Alan Ladd's character in This Gun for Hire; performing in Vietnam during the war; race relations during the Vietnam War; engaging in ménage à trois relationships; double standard in relation to the sexes; his marriage with Altovise; drug abuse; "male menopause" and aging in general.
RYL 4384 No. 24: 1986 , Caesar's Palace and the Desert Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include his enduring career; drugs; the maintenance of friendships; people's perceptions of him; friendships with Burt Reynolds, Ricardo Montalbán and his wife Georgiana Belzer; The Cannonball Run movies; aging and death; his relationships with his three children Tracey, Mark and Jeff; collaborating with Jerry Lewis; the difference between being married to a white woman as opposed to a black woman; race relations during his lifetime; Satanism and Anton Lavey (the High Priest of the Church of Satan); the Hellfire Club; his intellect; sex practices.
RYL 4385 No. 25: 1986 , Desert Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem; performing; friendships with Jack Haley Sr. and Jr.; being an established performer; playing golf; the dynamics between Liza Minnelli and her sister Lorna Luft; colloquialisms within the black and white communities; the live audience; falling in the bathtub; Jack Entratter and the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas; his professional relationship with long-time manager Shirley Rhodes; dietary habits; performing at the White House; classical music favorites; The Sammy Davis, Jr. Show; book reviews; cooking secrets and techniques; cooking for Sinatra; horticulture.
RYL 4386 No. 26: 1986 June 5 , Desert Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include toy collecting; Frank Sinatra's train collection; collecting as a hobby; photography; money and happiness; philanthropy; the 1964 film Becket; American movie sets versus European; White House dinner invitation; the production of an anti-drug special; the disappearance of black-and-white films; Richard Pryor; Eddie Murphy.
RYL 4387 No. 27: 1986 June 18 , Desert Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include his meeting and marriage to Altovise; Altovise's introduction to drugs and alcohol by Sammy; their Broadway experiences; Altovise's studies with Katherine Dunham; Altovise at the audition for Golden Boy; his former girlfriend Lola Falana; involvement with the major racial events of the 1960s and 1970s; Altovise's two car accidents; friendships with Bill Cosby and Barbara Sinatra; his drug abuse and the rift that it created in his friendship with Frank Sinatra; how supportive his friends were during Altovise's alcoholism; going to London to film One More Time; partying; his fascination with evil; Jay Sebring and Charles Manson murders.
RYL 4388 No. 28: Undated
Radio waves were picked up during the recording of this interview session
Topics include the harmony that must exist between a performer and his staff; the definition of the word "freaky"; what it feels like to be a legend; rehabilitation for substance abuse; his busy schedule; remaining focused while on stage; gossip; the end of his marriage to May Britt; interracial relations; marriage of daughter Tracey; his frequent worries; changes in the entertainment industry over the years; how audiences determine your level of stardom.
RYL 4389 No. 31: 1988 January 18
Topics include working for Robert Kennedy's campaign; his friendships with Robert and Ethel Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.; John Kennedy's lack of enthusiasm for the Rat Pack; being on the White supremacists' hit list; being harassed by American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell; playing a concert in Tupelo, Mississippi during a Civil Rights rally; his security guard Joe Grant; his relationships with Sy and Molly Marsh, Ben and Jackie Garfinkel; Bob Brown of Richard Nixon’s staff; how many of his friendships ended because of his support for Richard Nixon; performing in Vietnam during the war; going on the Johnny Carson Show the day that Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated; the assassination of Malcolm X and how Alex Haley had once arranged for Davis to meet him; hanging out with "Mama" Cass Elliot and Jimi Hendrix.
RYL 4390 No. 32: 1986 November , Desert Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include his attitude towards marriage; the definition of "decadence"; his avoidance of personal problems through performing; having confidence as a performer; auditioning for the 1986 film Crossroads; Ralph Macchio; his adopted children Mark, Jeff and Manny; the Betty Ford Center.
Altovise’s interview: the circumstances under which she met Sammy Davis, Jr., while starring in the musical High Spirits; her lack of interest in Davis at first because she wanted to marry the doctor that she was dating; her desire to attend nursing school; her motive for auditioning for Golden Boy and starring in it as Davis' sister; how their first conversation lasted for ten hours.
RYL 4391 No. 33: 1986 November , Desert Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include the 1960s Civil Rights period; Robert Kennedy; Harry Belafonte; Sidney Poitier; Atlanta and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; fashion; pantomiming "Mr. Bojangles" on several occasions before finally singing it; how audiences changed over twenty-five years; American race relations between Blacks and Whites; billing for The Cannonball Run movies; leaving a legacy; Mel Tormé; Bobby Darin; Ruby Rosa; philanthropy; "soul food"; trying LSD; the White Elephant Club in London; the rift that his drug abuse created between him and Frank Sinatra and their eventual reconciliation.
RYL 4392 No. 34: 1986 November , Desert Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada
Topics include Milton Greene; Janet Suzman; Lauren Bacall; remaining mysterious; the movie 1776; the deaths of his mother Rita Wade Davis, Cary Grant, and George Rhodes; Tom Smothers (of the Smothers Brothers); having rapport with an audience; standing ovations; acting your age as a performer; aging and the entertainment business; European women; the king of Sweden coming to Las Vegas to see him perform; being a womanizer; being humble about winning awards; the film The Pigeon; Aaron Spelling; doing benefits for UNICEF.
Altovise’s interview: comments on the trendsetting fashion sense of Sammy Davis, Jr.; becoming a member of the Share Happily and Reap Endlessly charity; designing their current home; the first friends she made within her husband's inner circle; her friendship with Lucille Ball.
RYL 4393 No. 35: 1986 , Desert Inn, Las Vegas, Nevada
This cassette was marked "backup" and contains much of the same information found on tape 18
Topics include his enduring popularity; the essence of the Rat Pack; Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly as tap dancers; problems with his hip; The Cannonball Run movies and working with Dean Martin, Burt Reynolds, Shirley MacLaine and Frank Sinatra; the song "Bojangles" and Bill Robinson; what the sequel to Yes I Can will be; alcoholism; his hair and hair care. Side B contains a radio program about Windsor, England.
RYL 4394 No. 36: Undated
Audio problems occur halfway through side A
Topics include Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death and aftermath; appearing on the Johnny Carson Show after King’s assassination; campaigning for Robert Kennedy. Side B is blank.
RYL 4395 No. 37: 1988 January 21
Topics include being a performer in America versus Europe; attending a ceremony commemorating John F. Kennedy's death; attending various meetings with and the funeral of Martin Luther King, Jr.; the atmosphere in Chicago during the 1960s Civil Rights movement; Billy Rose (his publicist); relationship with Altovise; the lack of modesty in contemporary society; the murder of Sharon Tate; being recruited by Richard Nixon and the problems that caused; his impressions of Richard Nixon; his relationship with Ronald and Nancy Reagan; public perceptions of the Civil Rights era; the slow progress in the Black community since the 1960s; keeping one's private life private; Marlene Dietrich.
RYL 4396 No. 38: 1988 January
Topics include the inner strength that it takes to overcome substance abuse; how a crisis shows you who your real friends are; knowing when to end your career as a performer; fashion; his Motown album; modern music in Europe; Michael Jackson's crotch-grabbing; doing six symphony concerts; defining himself as an entertainer; winning "Entertainer of the Year" award in Las Vegas for four consecutive years; Ann Jillian; being a tap dancer with a hip problem; hip replacement surgeries; how some of his jokes during his performances fell flat; America's smoking laws.
Digital audio of various interviews, performances, and appearances, 1954-1988, undated
Approximately 113 gigabytes of digital media and text files stored on a LaCie portable hard drive formatted for Apple Macintosh. Includes AIFF, AAC, SD2, and MP3 digital audio files documenting radio, television, and live appearances by Sammy Davis, Jr., as well as a number of his commercially released recordings. Also included are digital versions of complete interviews and excerpts of interviews originally recorded during the 1980s. Some of the files are described in four PDF audio log files.

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