President Nixon & Sammy Davis Jr.
A photo of President Nixon & Sammy Davis Jr. American entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. was probably best known as a member of the Rat Pat, featuring most-notably Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. What is les ... show more
A photo of President Nixon & Sammy Davis Jr. American entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. was probably best known as a member of the Rat Pat, featuring most-notably Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. What is less known is that during the late 1970s, he was an avid supporter of Richard Nixon. Davis was an already controversial figure in the African American community, having earlier converted to Judaism from a Catholic/Protestant family.
Adding to this controversy, in May of 1960 Sammy Davis Jr. married a white, Swedish-born actress named May Britt. At this point in American history, miscegenation was still a hotbed of intolerance, and Davis began to receive hate-mail due to his latest inter-racial tryst (having had a relationship with white actress Kim Novak several years earlier).
Needless to say, this marriage was the source of a lot of negative attention in the media and in households around the United States. It was also around this time that the United States was celebrating the election and inauguration of President John. F. Kennedy, and Davis's friend Frank Sinatra was asked to host Kennedy's inaugural party. To dissociate his campaign and administration from the May Britt/inter-racial marriage controversy, Sammy Davis Jr. was removed from the list of performers slated to appear at the inaugural party, despite Sinatra's involvement.
Put-out by his mistreatment by the Kennedy administration, Davis literally welcomed Nixon with open-arms, hugging him on live television. President Nixon went on to invite Sammy Davis Jr. to spend the night at the White House, making him the first African American to do so.