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Sammy Davis Jr: The Kid in the Middle

Documentary telling the remarkable life story of dancer, actor, singer and civil rights campaigner Sammy Davis Jr, who overcame racial prejudice to entertain millions worldwide.

Sammy Davis Jr was born to entertain. He was a human dynamo who made his debut at the age of five and by the time he was a teenager was wowing audiences across America. A gifted dancer, actor and singer, and a key member of the Rat Pack, Davis is best remembered for his unforgettable rendition of Mr Bojangles and his number one single The Candyman.

However, as a black man, making his way in the entertainment business saw him struggle to overcome racial prejudice, letter bombs and death threats. Davis fought back with his talent and in the 1960s marched alongside Dr Martin Luther King. Despite his reputation as a civil rights campaigner and one of the world's greatest entertainers, Davis remains an enigma. Those closest to him tell of a man never quite comfortable in his own skin, a workaholic and spendaholic who put his career before his family and who died leaving them millions of dollars in debt.

This documentary is Sammy Davis Jr's remarkable life story - his rise and his fall - told by those who knew him best. For the first time his family and friends including Paul Anka, Engelbert Humperdinck, Reverend Jesse Jackson and Ben Vereen share their memories - shedding new light on the legacy of one of the most gifted and loved performers in show business.

1 hour

Last on

Sun 1 Oct 2017 00:30

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:47

    Jefferson Airplane

    White Rabbit


Role Contributor
Producer Jacci Parry
Director Jacci Parry
Executive Producer Paul Bullock
Narrator Lynne Seymour


BBC Music: Sammy Davis Jr.

BBC Music: Sammy Davis Jr.

Find clips, tracks and a biog on Sammy Davis Jr. on the BBC Music site