American Masters – Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me

American Masters – Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me

Sat, 06/29/2019 - 8:00pm - 9:00pm

Sammy Davis, Jr.

Credit: Courtesy of The Estate of Altovise Davis

Explore the entertainer’s vast talent and journey for identity through the shifting tides of civil rights and racial progress during 20th-century America.

American Masters – Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me, airing Saturday, June 29 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-WORLD, is the first major film documentary to examine the performer’s vast career and his journey for identity through the shifting tides of civil rights and racial progress during 20th-century America. Sammy Davis, Jr., had the kind of career that was indisputably legendary, vast in scope and scale. And yet, his life was complex, complicated and contradictory. Davis strove to achieve the American Dream in a time of racial prejudice and shifting political territory. He was a veteran of increasingly outdated show business traditions and worked tirelessly to stay relevant, even as he frequently found himself bracketed by the bigotry of white America and the distaste of black America. Davis was the most public black figure to embrace Judaism, thereby yoking his identity to that of another persecuted minority. In Duke Ellington’s words, he was “beyond category.”

Featuring exclusive interviews with Billy Crystal, Norman Lear, Jerry Lewis, Whoopi Goldberg and Kim Novak, with never-before-seen photographs from Davis’ vast personal collection and rare footage from his performances in television, film and concert, American Masters explores the life and art of a uniquely-gifted entertainer whose trajectory paralleled the major flashpoints of American society, from the Depression through the 1980s. The PBS broadcast also features 20 minutes of exclusive bonus performance footage spanning Davis’ 50-year-career after the documentary.

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