Sammy Davis, Jr.

Sammy Davis, Jr.

photo by Peter Fitzpatrick/

Birth Name: Samuel George Davis, Jr.

Date of Birth: December 8, 1925

Place of Birth: Harlem, Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.

Date of Death: May 16, 1990

Place of Death: Beverly Hills, California, U.S.

*62.5% African-American
*37.5% Cuban/African-Cuban

Sammy Davis, Jr. was an American singer, dancer, actor, vaudevillian, comedian, film producer, and television director. His film roles included Rufus Jones for President, Ocean’s 11 (1960), Johnny Cool, and The Cannonball Run and its sequel. He hosted The Sammy Davis Jr. Show, and is known for his song “The Candy Man.” He was nicknamed “Mister Show Business.”

Sammy was the son of dancers Sammy Davis, Sr. and Elvera/Elvira Sanchez. His father was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, to an African-American family. His mother was born in New York, and had Cuban, African-Cuban, and African-American ancestry. During his lifetime, Sammy had stated that his mother was Puerto Rican. He began his career with the Will Mastin Trio, along with his father and Will Mastin.

Sammy was married to entertainer Altovise Davis, until his death. He had three children with his former wife, Swedish-born actress May Britt; and a son with Altovise.

Sammy Davis, Jr. converted to Judaism, as a personal decision, in 1961. His then-wife May Britt also converted. He was a practicing Jew.

Sammy’s paternal grandfather was named Robert Davis.

Sammy’s paternal grandmother was named Elizabeth Taylor.

Sammy’s maternal grandfather was named Marco Sanchez. Marco was a Cuban immigrant.

Sammy’s maternal grandmother was Luisa Valentina Aguiar (the daughter of Enrique Aguiar and Ida Henderson). Luisa was born in New York. Enrique was a Cuban emigrant, who was born in Havana, the son of Juan De Deis Pastoria and Francisca Aguiar. Ida was born in Connecticut, and was African-American, the daughter of Tanton Henderson and Ellen Allen.

Sammy’s mother is listed as “Mulatto” on U.S. Censuses. She had at least some African ancestry both from her Cuban heritage, and from her African-American maternal grandmother.

Sources: Family history of Sammy Davis, Jr. –

Genealogy of Sammy Davis, Jr. (focusing on his mother’s side) –

Sammy’s mother on the 1910 U.S. Census –
Sammy’s mother on the 1920 U.S. Census –


Curious about ethnicity

9 Responses

  1. MichaelWHat says:

    He’s 100 percent Jewish now cause he was a practicing jew

  2. madman says:

    He is:
    62.5% African-American
    37.5% Cuban (Spanish, African)

  3. JayD271 says:

    I see your source. If that is the case that his paternal grandfather was Cuban then Wikipedia is wrong for not stating that he had connections to Cuba.

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