THE SAMMY DAVIS JR. show was the talk of network television in 1966.
Not because it was a high ticket,mid-season,LIVING COLOR,replacement show starring the multi-talented, Rat Pack Refugee, who was hailed by critics,fans and colleagues as the world's greatest entertainer.
Not because it was a lavishly mounted , musical-variety hour that would attract the most honored, provocative and popular performers on the planet, including Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, whose volatile,marital relationship made global headlines,daily.
But, because the only person who couldn't appear on the show was the star, Sammy Davis JR, himself.
He wanted to host his own series, but an agreement he made with ABC-TV prevented him from performing for the Peacock. Davis' NBC show debuted on Friday, January 7, 1966, at 8:30pm EST with the high voltage, singer, mimic, dancer, comedian at center stage. But, because he had previously taped an ABC-TV special entitled THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF CHILDREN, that would air on February 1, 1966, his ABC-TV contract precluded him from appearing on another television network for three weeks prior to airing the program.
NBC asked ABC to reconsider, given the profile and the cost of a new series. But, even the friendliest of competitors can play hardball.
He hosted his premiere broadcast, but then for the three weeks leading up to his ABC-TV appearance, an eclectic trio of famous friends each took a turn hosting the nascent series. They included Sean Connery, Jerry Lewis and , as depicted in the vintage clips,below, NBC-TV's king of late night, Johnny Carson.
When Davis returned to his series in Mid-February of 1966, rich production values, a stellar guest list and formidable promotion from NBC-TV couldn't get viewers to sample THE SAMMY DAVIS JR SHOW, now that it actually featured Davis. The creative team behind the show was headed by producer Joe Hamilton, who won awards and acclaim supervising THE GARRY MOORE SHOW & THE CAROL BURNETT SPECIALS for CBS-TV. Even an electrifying episode, staged as a one man show, displaying Davis's manifold talents couldn't draw a sufficient audience to satisfy the network's projections for ratings and revenue.
NBC aired the last episode of THE SAMMY DAVIS JR. SHOW on April 1, 1966.
He went on do a range of television, guest appearances , often playing himself,on primetime series like ABC-TV'sCHARLIES ANGELS. Davis did a legendary, star turn ,also playing himself, on CBS-TV's ALL IN THE FAMILY. He hosted the short lived NBC FOLLIES plus SAMMY & COMPANY in the 1970's, but never found complete success on the home screen.
Below , from the Dentel TV2, YOU TUBE SITE are four clips that comprise the January 14,1966 episode of THE SAMMY DAVIS JR. SHOW with guest host JOHNNY CARSON.
The monologue has the kind of rapid fire, topical references that were Carson's comedic hallmark. Guests include Diahann Carol, Joan Rivers ( from whom Carson was estranged at the time of his death), and Mickey Rooney. Venerable, NYC disc jockey William B. WIlliams , who was the first person to refer to Frank Sinatra as The Chariman Of The Board, was the series announcer.Enjoy!!!!