Sammy Davis, Jr. Net Worth

Sammy Davis, Jr. Net Worth

Early Life

Sammy Davis, Jr. was born Samuel George Davis, Jr. on December 8, 1925, in Harlem, New York City. His parents, Sammy Davis Sr. and Elvera Sanchez were both vaudeville dancers. However, they split up when Sammy was just 3 years old. Despite the separation, Sammy Sr. gained custody of his son and took him on tour. During this time, he taught Sammy to dance, along with Will Mastin, who happened to be Davis’s godfather.

The trio, consisting of Sammy, his father, and Mastin, performed as the Will Mastin Trio. Davis’s talent was evident from a young age, and at the age of 7, he landed the lead role in the 1933 film “Rufus Jones for President.” However, Davis’s early life was not without hardships. At the age of 18, he was drafted into the military and served in the Army during World War II. Unfortunately, he faced abuse from Southern white soldiers, resulting in multiple broken noses. Despite these challenges, Davis was eventually reassigned to the Special Services branch, where he utilized his talents to entertain the troops. By the time of his discharge in 1945, Davis had achieved the rank of private and had been awarded a World War II Victory Medal and an American Campaign Medal.


Sammy Davis, Jr.’s career spanned multiple artistic disciplines. He was an accomplished singer, dancer, musician, actor, and impressionist. His versatility allowed him to release dozens of albums and star in over 70 film and television projects. Davis’s talent and dedication earned him recognition and nominations for various awards.

In 1964, Davis received a Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance in “Golden Boy” on Broadway. He also appeared in notable films such as “Porgy and Bess” (1959), “Ocean’s 11” (1960), and “The Cannonball Run” (1981).

Known as “Mr. Show Business,” Davis was a member of the famed Rat Pack, which included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. The Rat Pack performed in Las Vegas and collaborated on films such as “Ocean’s 11” (1960), “Sergeants 3” (1962), and “Robin and the 7 Hoods” (1964).

Davis also made notable television appearances, including the 1959 special “Sammy’s Parade” on Canadian television and guest spots on shows like “All in the Family” (1972) and “Charlie’s Angels” (1977). His performance as Chip Warren on “One Life to Live” (1979) even earned him a Daytime Emmy nomination.

Beyond his entertainment career, Davis sponsored the Sammy Davis Jr. National Liver Institute at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey after suffering from cirrhosis. He was also known for his autobiographical works, including “Yes I Can: The Story of Sammy Davis, Jr.” (1965), “Why Me?: The Sammy Davis, Jr. Story” (1980), and “Sammy: The Autobiography of Sammy Davis, Jr.” (2000).

Personal Life

Sammy Davis, Jr.’s personal life was marked by relationships, marriages, and various challenges. In 1957, he was in a relationship with actress Kim Novak, which faced backlash due to racial concerns. Mobsters close to Harry Cohn, the president of Columbia Pictures, threatened Davis because of the relationship. Reportedly, mobster Mickey Cohen warned Sammy’s father that if Davis didn’t marry a black woman within 48 hours, he would take out his other eye and break both of his legs. In response to these threats, Davis offered singer Loray White $25,000 to marry him. They wed at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas on January 10, 1958, but their marriage ended in divorce in April 1959.

Davis went on to marry Swedish-born actress May Britt on November 13, 1960. Together, they had a daughter named Tracey (born 1961) and adopted sons Mark (born 1960) and Jeff (born 1963). However, their marriage also ended in divorce in 1968 due to Sammy’s affair with singer Lola Falana.

Following his divorce from Britt, Davis struggled with drug and alcohol abuse. He eventually married dancer Altovise Gore on May 11, 1970. They adopted a son named Manny in 1989.

In addition to personal relationships, Davis faced physical challenges. In November 1954, he lost his left eye in a car accident in San Bernardino, California. After wearing an eye patch for six months, he was fitted with a glass eye.

Throughout his life, Davis underwent significant personal transformations. Although he was raised by a Baptist father, he converted to Judaism in 1961. He also became involved in civil rights activism, participating in the March on Washington in 1963 and helping to integrate nightclubs in Miami Beach and Las Vegas by refusing to perform at racially segregated venues.

Death and Estate

In August 1989, Sammy Davis, Jr. experienced a loss of taste and a tickling sensation in his throat, which were later attributed to a cancerous tumor. While doctors recommended a laryngectomy, Davis chose to preserve his voice and opted for chemotherapy and radiation treatment. After the cancer recurred, he underwent a laryngectomy but unfortunately passed away at his Beverly Hills home on May 16, 1990.

Sammy Davis, Jr.’s estate was valued at an estimated $4 million. However, he owed approximately $7 million to the Internal Revenue Service, including interest and penalties. Since Altovise Gore had co-signed Davis’s tax returns, she became liable for his debt. To settle the debt, she had to auction off Sammy’s real estate and possessions.

After Altovise’s death in 2009, their son Manny became the executor of the estate and the majority rights holder of his father’s creative works.

Real Estate

During the 1970s, Sammy Davis, Jr. purchased a 1.25-acre property in Beverly Hills, which included an 11,000 square-foot home and a guest house. This property served as his residence until his death. Approximately six months after his passing, his family listed the mansion for sale with an asking price of $4.25 million.

Here is a video tour of the home from a recent sale:

Awards and Honors

Sammy Davis, Jr.’s talent and contributions to the entertainment industry were recognized through numerous awards and honors.

In 2001, he received a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Furthermore, his song “What Kind of Fool Am I?” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002.

Throughout his career, Davis received several Grammy nominations, including Male Solo Vocal Performance and Record of the Year for “What Kind of Fool Am I?” (1962) and Pop Male Vocalist for “The Candy Man” (1972).

Television recognition included an Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy for “Sammy Davis Jr.’s 60th Anniversary Celebration” (1990). He also received Emmy nominations for “The Swinging World of Sammy Davis Jr.,” “One Life to Live,” and “The Cosby Show.”

Davis received the Man of the Year award from the American Guild of Variety Artists in 1961 and the NAACP Spingarn Medal Award in 1968. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded him a Special Citation in 1974. Additionally, he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960 and a Kennedy Center Honor in 1987.

Other accolades include induction into the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame (1989), the Las Vegas Walk of Stars (2006), the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame (2008), and the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame (2017). In 1981, he received an Honorary Doctorate in Literature from Atlanta University.