- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sammy’s sad last days

Beloved Rat Pack member Sammy Davis Jr. died broke, in debt to the Internal Revenue Service — and didn’t have to die, according to “Deconstructing Sammy,” a new book (set for release next month) by journalist Matt Birkbeck, the New York Post reports.

After giving him a cancer diagnosis in August 1989, doctors recommended surgery on the performer’s throat that offered an 80 percent chance of survival. He opted instead for radiation, which had a slim 30 percent survival rate. Mr. Davis died in 1990 at age 64.

Among the book’s other bombshells:

— Following his divorce from Swedish-born actress May Britt in 1968, Mr. Davis was pressured into marrying a black woman, Mr. Birkbeck writes. He wed Altovise Gore in 1970 and pressured her into participating in wild parties, the book says.

— Among the many men Altovise Davis befriended was former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, whom Mr. Davis met in the 1970s, when Mr. Rumsfeld worked for the Nixon administration. Mr. Rumsfeld remained friendly with Mrs. Davis after the legendary entertainer’s death, even to the point of calling her when she was living in poverty in Pennsylvania in 1993.

— When Mr. Davis’ good friend and long-time conductor, George Rhodes, died in 1985, he asked another good friend, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, to give the eulogy. Mr. Jackson agreed but for a price: He demanded $5,000 in cash, four first-class plane tickets and two suites at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Briefly…

— A rental truck containing equipment belonging to Iggy Pop and the Stooges was stolen after a concert Monday in Montreal, Associated Press reports. Stooges road manager Eric Fischer says the 15-foot truck contained all the group’s instruments and stage gear worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Morgan Freeman is doing well after surgery to re-connect nerves and repair damage to his left arm and hand following a car wreck Sunday night, his publicist tells AP. The surgery Monday “lasted approximately four and a half hours, including recovery, says Donna Lee, Mr. Freeman’s publicist. Mr. Freeman, 71, and Demaris Meyer, 48, were injured in the crash on a Mississippi highway.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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