Samuel George Davis Sr. (December 12, 1900 – May 21, 1988) known as Sammy Davis Sr. was an American dancer and the father of entertainer Sammy Davis Jr.
Sammy Davis Sr. was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, to Rosa B (Taylor) and Robert Davis. He and his former wife Elvera Sanchez were both dancers in a vaudeville troupe. The couple split up when their son Sammy Jr. was three. Davis Sr. took custody of his son, who then went into show business with his father.
He and Will Mastin, the leader of the dance troupe, taught Sammy Jr. how to dance and they performed together as the Will Mastin Trio. Sammy Jr. once stated, “When I was nine I told my father, ‘I can outdance you’. ‘Oh yeah? What makes you think that?’ he asked. ‘Cause you taught me everything I know’. ‘Yeah, but I didn’t teach you everything I know”.
Sammy Davis Sr. began dancing early in life, and as a young man joined Will Mastin to form a dancing troupe. Soon Sammy Jr. joined the act and they became known as the Will Mastin Trio. The three appeared in the 1956 Broadway musical Mr. Wonderful.
Sammy Davis Sr. also appeared in two movies, Sweet and Low and The Benny Goodman Story. In The Benny Goodman Story he played bandleader and arranger Fletcher Henderson.
Sammy Davis Sr. died May 21, 1988, in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 87, of natural causes, two years before the death of his son, Sammy Davis Jr.