Deadline is exclusively reporting that Paramount Pictures has set up an untitled Sammy Davis Jr. biopic and aim to fast track it, with Lorenzo di Bonaventura producing.
Sammy Davis Jr. was a dancer, singer, actor and musician born in Harlem in 1925. Sammy would perform for the troops during World War II and in the 1950’s, he’d be recording albums as well as performing on Broadway. Sammy Davis Jr. would become a major celebrity when he’d join The Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop), with the Pack ruling the Las Vegas Strip, even appearing in their own films such as Ocean’s 11, Sergeants 3 and Robin And The 7 Hoods. Sammy was a major supporter of the Civil Rights Movement and along with other artists, pushed through the walls of bigotry at the time, even refusing to work for companies that segregated (segregated water fountains and black performers had to stay in black hotels separate from whites-only hotels during that time in America). Even when interracial marriages were banned in many states, Sammy Davis Jr. would marry Swedish actress May Britt, with the pair converting to Judaism after Sammy Davis Jr. almost killed in a 1954 car crash in San Bernardino, losing his left eye in the process.
Sammy Davis Jr.’s heirs are joining a producing team that includes di Bonaventura, Mike Menchel and Lionel Richie. Lionel Richie released a statement about the biopic landing at Paramount, saying:
I cannot tell you how excited I am about the signing of the Sammy Davis Jr. project with Paramount. I knew and loved Sammy dearly. He was so kind to me at the beginning of my career and gave me advice that helped me become the artist that I am today. I am so happy for his kids that we can bring his story to the screen.
The biopic project is on the fast track development stage, so soon a writer and a director could be announced in the coming months.