Dean Martin and The Rat Pack: You Won’t Believe These Behind-The-Scenes Facts

The members of the Rat Pack were known for being Hollywood Royalty in their day. Dean Martin rose to fame as a part of the group of pals, which was led by the iconic Frank Sinatra. The group was responsible not only for Martin’s celebrity status but for Sammy Davis Jr.’s as well.
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While most people simply saw them for their performances, boozing, and otherwise party lifestyle, there was much more to Martin than meets the eye. Here are some things you may not know about Dean Martin and the Rat Pack in general.

He was Five Years Old When He Learned to Speak English

Die-hard Dean Martin fans probably are all aware that he wasn’t actually born with that name. No, he was born as Dino Paul Crocetti, the son of Italian American immigrants. For the first several years of his life, the family used only Italian – but that became an issue for him once he was old enough to start school.

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When he first entered elementary school in Ohio, he could only speak using badly broken English with a heavy accent, which other kids often teased him for. They probably wouldn’t have done so, if they’d known who he’d grow up to be.

Kid Crotchet

It wasn’t immediately that Martin was able to make a name for himself in show biz. In fact, early on, he was so broke that he was living out of a hotel. And, to pay for the room and their food, etc., he and his friend would stage boxing matches out of their room and charge people to come and watch.

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Apparently, Dean was a pretty good fighter and went on to win 24 of his 30 matches. He fought under the name, “Kid Crotchet,” which was a name he adopted when he was just 15-years old.

Plastic Surgery

Unfortunately, Hollywood has a way of convincing stars they need surgery to be the best versions of themselves, thus the nose job he underwent to slim down his nose at the beginning of his career.

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Luckily his success in the industry had nothing to do with the size of his nose and everything to do with his talent and personality. Martin was 27-years old when he underwent the rhinoplasty procedure.

Changing His Name

The “King of Cool” was actually born as Dino Paul Crocetti in 1917. He was born in Ohio, to his mother and father, who worked as a barber. When he first entered into the industry, he kept his first name and tacked on a new, flashy last one, calling himself Dean Martini.

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But in 1940, he changed his name to the one that would stick. Apparently, there was also a popular musician at the time who went by the name “Nino Martini,” and he didn’t want it to sound too close.

He Loved Comic Books

Martin was never a very big fan of reading – at least, not novels. In fact, he only ever read one throughout the entirety of his life, which was Black Beauty. He did love his comic books, though. But even though he enjoyed reading them, he didn’t like going into the store to buy them.

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So, he had his friend, comedian Jerry Lewis, get them for him and slip them to him in private. Then, he’d sneak off and read them alone in some quiet area.

He Starred In His Own Comic

He loved comic books so much that it’s only fitting he’d wind up starring in his own. In the early 1950s, The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis was released by DC Comics. And it wasn’t just a one-time deal.

 

The series would run from 1952-1957 until the dynamic duo broke up. Then, the series was renamed to just: The Adventures of Jerry Lewis.

The Dean Martin Festival

The actor was born in small-town Steubenville, Ohio, which honors their own hometown celebrity with an annual festival, named in his honor. Events at the festival include impersonators, along with a film festival, and a meatball eating contest.

 

There is also an occasional horse race at the local racetrack and gaming resort.

Three Stars

In order for a celebrity to get a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, there’s an entire (lengthy) process they have to go through. The first step is being nominated in one of several categories, and then it has to go through a number of other people, including the celebrity and their representation, along with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

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Most celebrities only ever go through this process once, occurring in a single star along the famed path. Dean Martin, however, earned himself three throughout his career.

He Looked up to Jimmy the Greek

Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder was a famous sports commentator and Las Vegas bookie. He would eventually be canned from CBS for his unsavory remarks, but when Martin was younger, he looked up to him.

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Snyder was a regular commentator on The NFL Today and has been parodied in a number of TV shows, including The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live.

When Frank met Dean

In the early 1940s, Dean was trying to make his way as a singer when he first met Frank Sinatra. The star offered to help him get a leg up in the industry, but Martin told him he wanted to do it himself, though he made sure to let him know how appreciative he was for the invite.

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Their friendship started to blossom several years later when they made Some Came Running together in 1958.

Family Fame

Martin wasn’t the only person in his family to have gotten his fair share of the spotlight. His daughter, Gina, married Beach Boys guitarist/singer, Carl Wilson. The two were together for a couple of years before ultimately deciding to break things off. At one point, Dean married Olympic gold medal skater, Dorothy Hamill.

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She was Martin’s second wife, though the two called it quits in the mid-1980s. His son Dean married actress Olivia Hussey, and his other son, Craig, married the daughter of a famous comedian.

Not So Fast

Although Martin and his longtime partner in comedy, Jerry Lewis, were a dream team for many years, they didn’t exactly start out as such. In fact, their first performance together was actually bad – very, very bad. The club owner where they were performing told them after their first act that they needed to think of something else for the second act, and fast because otherwise, they were out.

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They rearranged some things within their act and were able to pull it together.

His Debut

After working to make a name for himself as a singer in Las Vegas, he entered the world of acting on screen. First, he appeared in 1958’s, Some Came Running, alongside Frank Sinatra. Then, he made his television debut in 1964, as the host of his own show.

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He also worked as a roastmaster on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast, joking with other celebrities and politicians, etc. The show aired from 1974-1984 and was initially created to breathe some new life back into Martin’s career, which seemed to be in somewhat of a lull in ’73.

Getting Closer

In the 1950s, Martin and Sinatra were as close as brothers, according to multiple sources. Frank loved Dean’s bold personality, and the two had a lot of fun together over the years. They not only worked together on the Rat Pack, but they were also in eight films together. Plus, they both had their gambling licenses – and loved them some Vegas.

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Out of 17 shows, Martin only performed in five. He reportedly was having kidney troubles while on the road and therefore had to call it quits early in the tour. No one knows if this is true or if Martin was just trying to get out of the rest of the tour.

Faking It

On some shows, celebrities actually drink liquor. And, even though it may have appeared that Dean Martin did so on a number of occasions, it turns out he was just pretending. According to his daughter, most of the time when you’d see a drink in his hands, it was only apple juice.

 

It makes sense since he had a job to do. Unfortunately, there would come a point in time when he would pick up a bottle and not let go. But during the height of his career, when he was at that piano, it was apple juice all the way.

The Rat Pack

They originally acquired their name when Stephen Bogart’s mother walked in on them after they’d spent a weekend partying in Vegas. She reportedly told them, “you look like a goddamn rat pack,” – and it stuck! The men thought it was hysterical and chose to keep it.

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The group’s motto? “Never rat on a rat.” Sinatra was reportedly the only one who was never a huge fan of the title, but he had no problem simply going along with it. So many decades later, they’re still known as The Rat Pack.

Through Thick and Thin

They were known around the industry and their area by a few different names, including “The Clan,” and “The Summit.” The original group was sometimes called the Holmby Hills Rat Pack, due to their neighborhood.

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But no matter what they chose to call themselves, they were always there for each other, supporting each other and showing up for each other’s shows. They weren’t just known for their performances, but for their partying ways.

Dean’s Daughter

Deana Martin was born to the star and her mother, Dean’s first wife, Elizabeth, in 1948. She followed along in dad’s footsteps as far as going into the entertainment industry. First, she trained in the U.K at the Dartington College of Arts.

 

She made her TV debut on dad’s show in 1966 and started frequenting it after. Deana has appeared on a number of other shows as well and even hosted her own for an impressive four seasons.

Ocean’s 11

In 1960, the original Ocean’s 11 hit the scene, and people were not disappointed. Martin filmed the hit with four other members of the Rat Pack, including Frank Sinatra, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, and Sammy Davis Jr.

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The film is both based and filmed in Las Vegas and even inspired the almost equally popular remake  (and a few sequels) which stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon.

He’d Take The Stairs And Not The Elevator

While Dean Martin may have been quite the star, he didn’t always act like a diva. Sure, he loved to drink with his friends, but he actually hated parties. Another thing he hated: elevators. Yep, he would go out of his way and take his time to hike several flights of stairs before he’d jump in an elevator.

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Apparently, he was pretty afraid of them, referring to them as “coffins.” He once walked 18 flights of stairs to avoid an elevator ride!

He Called the Cops on His Wife

Martin loved spending time with his friends and drinking and partying with them. But he didn’t feel the same way about large parties full of people he didn’t know. There was one time that his wife threw a party, to which a large number of people showed up.

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Dean was not happy with the volume of noise around the house. He pretended to be a neighbor and placed an anonymous call to the police to complain. The police then showed up and broke up the party. Mission accomplished!

His First Film Was Pretty Bad

Dean Martin’s first film performance was in the 1957 rom-com, Ten Thousand Bedrooms. Martin plays a hotel mogul who falls in love with a young woman while he’s in Rome buying a new property. But, in order to marry her, he must first help her three older sisters get married. Unfortunately, the film was a flop.

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Some reviews are pretty harsh, others empathize with the future star, saying something like, “poor guy, it’s his first time with a chance to go solo and he winds up with…this.” Luckily, he was able to turn it all around.

Switching Genres

For the most part, Martin was used to lighthearted comedy and roles that were fairly easy to play. Well, that is until he was given his first dramatic role, playing the part of Michael Whiteacre in The Young Lions.

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Other famous faces in the motion picture include Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift. After filming wrapped, a budding friendship between the three had begun.

He Has A Hit Western Song

Throughout his career, Martin made plenty of Western movies and sang Country and Western classics. The first Western movie hit the scene in 1959 in the form of Rio Bravo. Martin played the booze-loving Sheriff’s deputy alongside John Wayne, who played the role of Sheriff.

 

Then came Sergeants 3 in 1962, followed by a string of other films like 4 for Texas, The Sons of Katie Elder, Rough Night in Jericho, and Bandolero!

No Rehearsal Contract

Included in the actor’s film contract was the stipulation that he didn’t have to attend rehearsals along with the rest of the cast. So, what did he do instead? Well, most of the time he went and played golf, which was one of his favorite things to do when he wasn’t working.

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So, in 1968, he signed a $34 million contract for his show and made sure it listed the fact he wouldn’t have to show up to rehearsals. Now that’s a pretty sweet deal!

He Trained with Bruce Lee

Martin was a multi-talented man who liked to explore different passions and trained for a ton of random jobs before playing a role in his films. We saw this when he played superspy, Matt Helm in a parody film series that included The Silencers, Murderers Row, The Wrecking Crew, and The Ambushers.

 

In order to knock out all of his martial arts moves in the role, he trained with the legendary fighter and fellow actor, Bruce Lee. In fact, Lee himself choreographed the fight scenes in the film.

That’s Amore

There is hardly a brain in the Western world that hasn’t been introduced to the wildly popular song, “That’s Amore.” It first entered existence in 1953 for Martin and Lewis’ hit film, The Caddy. As it turns out, Lewis actually paid some talented songwriters $30,000 to write the tune.

 

Now, it’s often used in films and television shows and is still connected with Martin. “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s Amore.”

Going Their Separate Ways

The split between beloved comedic duo Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis happened exactly 10 years to the day when it all began. Apparently, Martin had started to feel as though his friend was trying to exert too much power and control over the partnership.

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He at one point said he felt as though Jerry was “taking over the act,” which he wasn’t very pleased about. They eventually stopped speaking entirely, and bitterly ended their longtime show and friendship.  The breakup would only serve to enhance Dean’s career.

A Family Man

As Dean grew up as a part of a large Italian American clan, the family was always incredibly important to him. This carried over from his youth to his own family, once he had children of his own. He would always make sure he made the time to spend with them and, at the very least, would be home for dinner every night as long as he wasn’t on the road.

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Martin fathered eight children in the course of his life, four sons, and four daughters. He was devoted to caring for each and every one of them.

Wife Number Two

After his split with his first wife, Elizabeth “Betty,” he would find love again with wife number two: model Jeanne Martin. The two got married after meeting at a New Year’s Eve event in 1949. This was the wife who loved to party a bit more than her new husband. Apparently, the cop calling didn’t shake things up too much.

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The two remained a happy couple for nearly 20 years before calling it quits. They were destined to be reunited in the future, however, in the wake of a tragedy.

The Fight

The feud between Martin and Lewis was infamous and long-lasting. It stretched for two decades until the death of Martin’s son, Dean Martin Jr. His son was piloting a fighter jet for the National Guard when the plane crashed and ended his life.

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Although Lewis had not spoken to his former friend for about 20 years, he did show up at the funeral to show his respect. The two bonded once again and were semi-friends again until Martin passed away.

Vegas’ Tribute to the Singer

Dean Martin was a huge part of Las Vegas, and vice versa. Thus, they have honored his passing in a number of different ways. On the evening that it happened, the city dimmed the lights along the strip.

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Then, there’s the actual Dean Martin tribute show, Dean Lives, which stars Drew Anthony as the late actor and musician. Other entertainers who are portrayed in the show include Marilyn Monroe, Jerry Lewis, Johnny Carson, and Peggy Lee.

Coincidence

Dean’s son perished in a mountain range, along with his crewman when their fighter jet went down in dense cloud cover. What’s really strange about the location of this tragedy is the fact that his friend and fellow Rat Pack member, Frank Sinatra’s mother also died in a plane crash in the same range.

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She was 82 years old when it happened. After this horrible incident, Dean and ex-wife Jeanne were reunited in mourning.

You Want Me To Do What?

Crying on cue is a talent that some actors are lucky enough to have and have developed. Unfortunately for Martin, he wasn’t necessarily one of them, at least not when he was first starting out. He reportedly had a tough time playing the drunk sheriff in Rio Bravo, since that wasn’t yet one of the talents that he had stashed away in his toolbelt in the early days of his career.

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Still, the film would go on to be a major hit and score a Golden Globe and two additional nominations.

Kids can be Cruel

Early on when Dean was growing up as a child of Italian American immigrants, he would get bullied for not speaking in the same way the other kids at his elementary school did.

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His broken English and thick Italian accent often resulted in him getting picked on by the other children. Because of that, he tried to keep to himself during the school day.

Dressed to Impress

The members of the Rat Pack were famous around Vegas and throughout the U.S in general for several reasons. You could always recognize them if you’d see them out for a night on the town because they’d always be dressed to the nines in sports coats and ties.

 

They did an enormous amount of good for the town of Las Vegas and were responsible for waves of people flocking to the area to get a glimpse of the group. The group was basically responsible for setting the whole tone of glamour and glitz on the Vegas strip.

Rat Pack Spa Days

After a long, hard night of partying or performing (or both), the boys needed to rest and get their energy back somehow. So, what did they do? They headed to the spa, of course.

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The group even had matching, customized robes since they did it so often. They loved the luxuries of Las Vegas.

JFK Verses Sammy Davis Jr.

Although Kennedy would join up with the Rat Pack to enjoy the male bonding, not all of the members were happy about it. Apparently, the president made some offensive remarks to Sammy Davis Jr. that made him uneasy. He wasn’t a big fan of JFK from that point on.

 

It was something that Sammy Davis Jr. held on to for years, even until long after JFK’s assassination. But in 1987, he was honored by the Kennedy Center, which eased his feelings about the situation at least somewhat, if not fully.

Marilyn Monroe’s Role in the Gang

One can only speculate how things went down between women like Marilyn Monroe and influential men in her time. The actress had romantic ties to several members (and friends) of The Rat Pack, including Frank Sinatra and JFK.

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The group had a lot to do with the iconic moment Monroe sang “Happy Birthday” to the president. She performed for him at a 1962 Democratic rally.

The Rise of Sammy Davis Jr.

The legendary singer, actor, and all-around entertainer was born into the world of show business. He entered into the world in Harlem in the mid-1920s, to two parents who were stage performers themselves. His family taught him how to dance early on, but like most men of his time, he got drafted into military service before starting to professionally record music in 1949.

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In ’53, he got his own television show, which shone a spotlight on struggling African American entertainers, and it was all uphill for him after that.

The Will Mastin Trio

When Sammy Davis Jr. was still a child, his uncle, Will Mastin, taught him how to dance. After that, he joined his act, which led to his rise in fame. Even after he started to book bigger and bigger things, he kept including the Will Mastin Trio (his act’s name) in his billing credits.

 

The entertainer was just 18 years old when he was drafted into the Army in 1943. Unfortunately, he would experience a large amount of intolerance from the soldiers who served with him.

Everyday Fights

White, mainly Southern, soldiers would relentlessly abuse Davis, due simply to his skin color and their ignorance. Because of their inability to control themselves, Davis admitted that he was in a “knockdown, drag-out fight every two days.”

 

Finally, he was transferred to the Special Services branch of the Army and got to put on performances for the troops. And, during at least one of those shows, he had to perform for the soldiers who had abused him.

Opening for The Legendary Frank Sinatra

Sammy Davis Jr. actually first met Sinatra when he was a teenager. He was opening for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (and Sinatra) and the two hit it off. A budding friendship and mentorship began, and from then out, Davis Jr. was like a little brother to him.

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Tommy Dorsey’s band had an impressive 286 Billboard chart hits, and Sammy Davis Jr. was on his rise to fame, thanks to his new friend, Frank Sinatra.

Battling Racism

Racism is still very much an issue today, but in the 1940s, the world was a much different place. Davis Jr. was turned away from staying in the same hotels as his performing band, due to his skin color.

 

But throughout it all, Sinatra was right there by his side, sticking with him through thick and thin and helping him pick himself up and dust himself off when things went sideways – like when he got into a car accident, and his mentor paid the hospital bills for him.

No Autographs, Please

Sammy Davis Jr. was never a big reader during his childhood. In fact, he couldn’t read anything but comic books until after going off to join the service. Since he lacked formal education in his childhood, he never learned to write, either.

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You can imagine how uncomfortable it must have been for him to get asked for an autograph and feel as though he wouldn’t be able to sign it without feeling embarrassed. So, just to play it safe, he would only sign his name – nothing more, nothing less.

The Accident

Early in the morning on one day in late November 1954, Davis Jr. accidentally crashed his car into another that was waiting to make a turn. It was a moment that would forever change the life of the 28-year old. Two women were in the other car, and both were injured but lived.

 

Unfortunately for the entertainer, the accident would claim one of his eyes, which resulted in him wearing a glass eye for the remainder of his years.

Soul Search

Like with so many cases, the near-death experience caused the performer to reevaluate his life and go on a journey to find his soul. The journey would be sparked by a visit by a Jewish Chaplain when he was in the hospital.

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Afterward, he converted from Christianity to Judaism after studying and going through the proper channels.

Moving on up

Although one may think that an accident that takes your eye may derail some, it only served to further motivate the entertainer. He went on to release his own first albums in 1955, Starring Sammy Davis Jr., followed by Just for Lovers.

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It was all uphill after that. He continued to release albums every year, occasionally multiple times over a 365-day period. Davis Jr. would also go on to win a number of awards including both Grammys and Emmys, along with several others.

Mr. Wonderful

In 1956, Mr. Wonderful musical first opened on Broadway. The play was written specifically to show off Davis Jr.’s talents, and also included his father, Sammy Sr., and his uncle Will.

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Some questioned his choice, being that he’d already found success on other entertainment avenues. Still, the show ran for over 380 performances until it closed in February of 1957.

Ladies’ Man

Sammy Davis Jr. was mainly considered to be ugly, especially by men, who questioned how he was able to continue coupling up with gorgeous women – but that’s exactly what he did. Women like Kim Novak saw past his face and through to his kind personality, plus it probably helped that he was a huge star. Novak and Davis Jr. fell in love in 1957.

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But in those days, their relationship was seen as somewhat forbidden, which would force them into doing some things they weren’t very proud of.

Playing Himself

It must have been incredibly strange and yet very satisfying to play roles that allowed him to break through the world’s racial barriers. He would jump at any chance he got to take on such a role, which led to the episode of All in the Family, in which he guest-starred as himself.

 

On the show, Archie continues to throw all kinds of hateful remarks his way. Davis Jr.’s response? He gave him a big old kiss right on the cheek (note Archie’s shocked expression.)

Family of his own

Sammy Davis Jr. may have “gone for it” when it came to working things out with families on screen, but when it came to his own, he wasn’t exactly father of the year. His daughter, Tracey, details her relationship with her famous dad in her book, Sammy Davis Jr: My Father.

 

In it, she lays how he was always more concerned with his work and with his Rat Pack pals than he was with his family. She has also written another book called Sammy Davis Jr.: A Personal Journey With My Father.

Lying About Adoption

The entertainer had four children throughout his life; his daughter, Tracey, and three sons – all of whom he thought were adopted. But at one point, his son, Mark, discovered his own birth certificate that revealed that he was indeed Davis Jr.’s biological child.

 

Afterwards, he decided to submit for a DNA test, in hopes of finding out more about his true origins. The test revealed that the actor and musician was not his father – but that’s not how it felt to Mark.

The Cover-up

Mark grew up very confused about where he actually came from. He’s even called himself a “giant living question mark” at one point. He had no idea whether or not he was actually born to either one of his parents; Davis Jr. or May Britt.

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Both adoptive parents insisted that’s strictly what they were, but Mark still has his doubts.

A Troubled Life

One may assume that being the child of a celebrity, adopted or not, means you’re set for life. Unfortunately for Mark, that’s not exactly how it works. Perhaps his father would have left him his estate when he passed, but the IRS took it before his family could.

 

Mark has lived a regular life, working retail and trying to keep his own two sons afloat. He has also struggled with substance abuse related issues and was constantly in and out of rehab.

The Upper Hand

Once Sammy Davis Jr. found his fame, he no longer felt like hotel owners who used to refuse him service years before had the upper hand. This time, the power was in his hands, and when racially segregated establishments would ask him to perform – he turned them down.

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Because of that, bar and club owners from coast to coast began to integrate their venues. Davis Jr. was a huge supporter of the Civil Rights Movement and was solely responsible for who knows how many clubs beginning to integrate their establishments!

The First Black Man to Sleep Over at the White House

Yet another impressive credential to the performer’s name is that he and his wife were the very first black couple to spend the night in the White House. The invite was extended from Richard Nixon, who admired everything Davis Jr. had done for civil rights.

 

He and the president actually wound up become friends, despite their differences in political parties.

Deep State Regrets

Unfortunately, Nixon’s presidency will forever be seen as tied to the Watergate scandal and his resulting resignation. Because of everything that went down when he was in office, Davis Jr. later admitted to his regret for supporting the president.

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In fact, he, like many other celebrities at the time, started to receive some pretty harsh threats because of it. The threats on Davis Jr. were multi-faceted, stemming from not only his political ties, but also once again due to his race.

In the Mail

Many of the threats on the entertainer were from people that were angry he was a black man who supported this Republican, white president. But this wasn’t the first time Sammy Davis Jr. would receive aggressive threats in his mail.

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After he coupled up with Kim Novak in ’57 he started receiving them left and right from the mob. But no matter what came at him, the entertainer kept trying to simply live his life and push through all of the racial barriers that society had set in front of him.

Booed off the Stage

There were loads of black people who were angry that Davis Jr. supported, and spent so much time with white people like Nixon, living what they viewed as a “white lifestyle.” In fact, they were so fed up with him that he was booed off of the stage in Chicago when he tried to perform in support of Jesse Jackson.

 

Needless to say, it did not go over well, and the flustered entertainer left after doing just one number. He also made sure to add that he would never again “extend myself.”

Marrying Ms. Gore

After getting so much hate from the black community, he decided that maybe they were right about some of the things he’d been doing.

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This prompted him to alter his lifestyle in a few ways; one of which included marrying his new wife, Altovise Gore. The couple first met when they worked together on Golden Boy in 1964. They tied the knot several years later in 1970, and it was all love, according to Altovise.

Oscar Bloopers

Unlike a blooper reel at the end of a film, mistakes that happen live on stage aren’t exactly able to be edited out. In 1964, he was invited to perform as an announcer at that year’s Academy Awards. His job was to announce the winner for Best Music Score – simple enough, right? Unfortunately, someone handed him the wrong envelope, which led to him announcing the wrong name.

 

Whoops! Luckily, he was able to jokingly move past it and everything turned out to be just fine. In fact, the audience seemed to think it was hilarious, as evidenced by their roaring applause and laughter.

Forbidden Love

The entertainer first met his first love, Kim Novak, in 1957. At the time, she was already a huge star, created to be such by the head of Columbia Pictures.  he was this beautiful blonde movie star, and he was moving on up just as quickly in the industry. But in Hollywood’s Golden Age, interracial relationships were strictly forbidden.

 

Thus, the two entered into a sort of sneaky love affair, where they’d run around and hide everything so as not to cause a public stir. Unfortunately, word would get out and when it did – it resulted in such extreme backlash it resulted in a mob hit being ordered.

The Hit

Kim Novak was Columbia Pictures head, Harry Cohn’s, favorite project – and cash cow. He was apparently pretty heated up when he found out about the relationship. So heated, that he reportedly ordered a mob hit to scare the two apart. The hit involved a lot of large, scary men showing up to bully Davis Jr. into leaving Novak.

 

And, it worked. It worked so well that within a very short time, he would find himself marrying his new wife.

Picking His Wife

Davis would find himself tying the knot to a woman named Loray White. White, who had dabbled in entertainment herself, was called up by the entertainer and allegedly offered money for marrying him for a short period of time. He explained the situation to her, and she agreed to help him out.

 

Though she probably enjoyed the six months of marriage to a star, she knew it wasn’t meant to last. After all, the entire thing was staged so that Davis Jr. could continue working in Hollywood.

Hollywood Hitmen

Harry Cohn was both hated and feared around Hollywood. He was known for being able to either make you or break you – but by “breaking you” that often meant ending up homeless or in the ground. Some said that he was one of the meanest moguls in the industry, so that meant that he was responsible for some folks going six feet under.

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So, when he sent his men after Sammy Davis Jr., the entertainer felt powerless against him, and like he had no choice but to agree to call it quits with his beloved.

Passing On

Sammy Davis Jr. died in 1990 at the age of 64. His death didn’t come as a shock to those closest to him, who knew he’d be battling cancer since the year before.  He passed away from throat cancer, which probably resulted from him smoking up to four packs of cigarettes every day.

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He tried to leave his $4 million estates to his widow, Altovise Davis, but the IRS had other plans. He owed them more than $5 million, which had accrued interest and penalties and risen to over $7 million – which resulted in Altovise going into debt.