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Friday, March 9, 2007

Sammy and Friends

Last night, I drank dirty martinis with The Rat Pack....

Vanity Fair, Ports 1961 and the Accompanied Literary Society hosted a party to celebrate the launch of, "Photo by Sammy Davis, Jr.," a book of previously unpublished images by the legendary entertainer.

The Ports 1961 showroom was transformed into a cocktail lounge at The Sands casino in Vegas and featured an installation of personal photos taken by Davis over the course of his tremendous career and life.

Only his closest friends and family knew that the talented singer, dancer and actor had a passion for photography. And, it was Davis' inner circle - Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, May Britt, Jerry Lewis, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Paul Newman - that he captured in their most private, candid and revealing moments.

But, the night revealed more about the photographer than his subjects. During a Q&A with Burt Boyar, (Davis' longtime friend and author of the book), we learned about Davis' struggle as an African American entertainer during a racially divided time .

Boyar said that, "Sammy's camera often served as a shield to gain access to places he couldn't because of his color." Despite his fame and success, the A-list insider always felt like an outsider.

In true Vegas style, the sentimental tribute to Sammy Davis, Jr. ended with a stellar performance by another ground-breaking entertainer - Adam Dugas of The Citizen's Band, a Cabaret-inspired collective of singers, dancers and actors who use their art to comment on political and social issues.

Photography by Sammy Davis, Jr.

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