Sammy Davis Jr. is a Hollywood icon who worked as a singer, dancer, actor, comedian, and activist, and his career spanned six decades. He was perhaps best known as a member of the Rat Pack and his biggest hit song, the catchy single The Candyman hit number one on the Billboard charts in 1972, but he was already a well-established entertainer long before that with a rich and storied career.
US Army Experience
In 1943, Davis was drafted into the United States Army, where, unfortunately, he encountered prejudice and abuse at the hands of his fellow soldiers. Davis later said that because he had grown up amongst black entertainers and performed largely for black audiences, his experiences in the army were his first real encounters with racism. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t be his last.
He often had to contend with racial intolerance from many of his fellow soldiers, getting into frequent fights and having his nose broken several times. Eventually, he was reassigned to the entertainment branch of the army where he was able to perform for his fellow troops. After the war, he was honorably discharged from the army and then resumed performing with the Will Maston Trio.
Although he was already a moderate star in his own right, Davis’ association with the Rat Pack catapulted his career to new heights. Davis made his most popular films while he was a member of the Rat Pack, including Ocean’s 11 in 1960, Sergeants 3 in 1962, and Robin and The Seven Hoods in 1964.
Davis also maintained an active presence on the nightclub scene, in the recording studio, and on Broadway where his talents as a singer and dancer were always in demand. He was also an active supporter of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, headlining several events to raise money for the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Emulating Sammy Davis Jr.’s Looks: Have Some Fun!
Of course, Sammy was comfortable playing around with the rules of different dress codes and added his own unique touches to things. And his wardrobe of course varied, both from day to day and from decade to decade. As we can see from both his suits and his tuxedos, which were well-tailored but worn with an air of casual elegance, one thing to keep in mind if you’d like to emulate Davis is to not take yourself too seriously.
You could try to emulate the slick back hairstyle and pencil-thin mustache that Davis was known for at different points in his career but this might verge on being a bit costumey. If you’d like to go with a look that’s closer to what Davis wore earlier in his career in the 1950s and 60s, you’ll want to go with a slimmer fitting suit. It could be single or double-breasted in configuration, but adding a touch like jetted pockets for additional slimness would be a good choice.
While he was most frequently seen in suits, Davis wasn’t a stranger to the occasional sport jacket, so you could opt for one of these as well in a similar fitting style. Whatever the case, if going for this cleaner look we would recommend a shirt with a classic point or even a spear collar and a slim dark tie.