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Bedtime Biography: Yes I Can

The Story of Sammy Davis Jr.

By Sammy Davis, Jr. and Jane and Burt Boyar
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Bedtime Biography: Yes I Can by Sammy Davis, Jr. and Jane and Burt Boyar

Narrated by Jeannette Robinson

Music by Federico Coderoni

Yes I Can (1965) is the bestselling autobiography of Sammy Davis Jr, viewed as one of the best autobiographies of all time. Written halfway through his life, it tells the story of how Davis battled racism, poverty and discrimination to become a star. Starting with his difficult childhood, it traces his life from his vaudeville days to his time as one of the most famous men in America. 

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Sammy Davis, Jr. performed with some of the most legendary entertainers of all time. Frank Sinatra. Dean Martin. Bing Crosby. Nat King Cole.

Yet nearly everyone who ever attended a Sammy Davis, Jr. show agreed: pound for pound, there was nobody more talented. Sammy Davis combined all the skills of an entertainer into one electrifying package: dancing, singing, comedy, impressions, playing music. In an era of showbusiness legends, he was universally regarded as the most versatile and crowd-pleasing performer around.

This is especially remarkable when you consider that Sammy Davis was a Black entertainer at a time when Black Americans faced inconceivable discrimination. In most clubs he played at the start of his career, he had to enter through the back door – only white people were allowed through the front. Yet over the course of his lifetime, Sammy Davis fought to change such racist policies.

By the end of his career, he set the terms, refusing to perform in segregated venues. Clubs had to change their rules if they wanted to profit off his talent. He’d go on to become one of America’s first Black performers to star in Hollywood movies, Broadway musicals, and TV shows. Through his remarkable resolve, he helped integrate American entertainment. But the progress he achieved came at a steep personal cost, and he would struggle with demons throughout his professional life.

What drove Sammy Davis to keep going? To keep refining his craft and performing at the highest level imaginable? Pull up a chair and fight for a seat near the front, because we’re delving into the life of Sammy Davis, Jr., one of the greatest entertainers ever to grace the stage.

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