I often consider myself as being an “old soul”, because of the type of music I enjoy, and my appreciation for vintage clothing and antique décor. In fact, I like to think that I was born in the wrong time period. Therefore, it’s no surprise that my style icons are older gentlemen like Bill Cosby and Lino Ielluzzi. Similarly, another man that I have learned a lot from is the one and only Sammy Davis Jr.
Samuel George Davis Jr. was born on December 8, 1925 in New York City. He was a singer, tap dancer, actor, musician, stand-up comedian, and all around entertainer. In my opinion, he was arguably one of the best entertainers of all time. He started his entertainment career at the tender age of 3 years old with his father and Will Mastin as the Will Mastin Trio. He performed with them for many years nationally until he was drafted at 18 to serve in the Vietnam War. He later received the Medal of Honor for his service.
Sammy Davis Jr. was also a large financial supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. At the height of the movement, while he performed with the Rat Pack (Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, and Frank Sinatra) he refused to work at any segregated venues. This ultimately led to the integration of nightclub hotspots like Las Vegas and Miami Beach.
In terms of style, Sammy knew his proportions. This was crucial since he was only 5’3 and incredibly slender. He was one of very few men who could pull off just about anything from stovepipe trousers to full-length fur coats to classic slim-cut suits. He also rocked gold jewelry around his neck and fingers even when draped in formal wear. As a testament to his style, Sammy Davis, Jr. was also the first black man to grace the cover of GQ (Gentleman’s Quarterly) in their September 1967 issue.
Sammy Davis Jr. was a man of many talents but he also possessed an unfathomable amount of fortitude for overcoming racism and unfair treatment for most of his life. However, through it all he treated everyone with respect, loved people with all of his heart, and was not afraid to make fun of himself at a moments notice. And for that he will always be one of my style icons, because I believe you cannot classify one’s style with just an outfit.