The project, titled “Sammy,” is in preliminary stages, according to Deadline, with “In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr.” by Wil Haygood being used as source material.
There have been multiple attempts at a biopic about Davis, most recently at Paramount Pictures last year with producers Lorenzo di Bonaventura attached, along with Lionel Richie and Mike Menchel with the blessing of Davis’ estate.
The “American Idol” judge relentlessly pursued the rights to Sammy’s life story, “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 said in a statement.
Davis was one of the first Black entertainers to crossover in racially charged America during the 1950s. The Harlem native rolled with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop — known as The Rat Pack, and they starred in several films together in the 60’s, including “Ocean’s 11,” “Sergeants 3” and “Robin and the 7 Hoods.”
Sammy had a thing for white actresses such as Kim Novak, and he faced endless death threats because of it. When Columbia Pictures’ Harry Cohn came for his head after learning Davis and Novak were dating, the singer was forced to marry a Black woman who served as his beard. He later married Swedish actress May Britt and they and had three children together. Their union lasted eight years.
Davis endured many controversies throughout his career and he famously refused to work for companies that segregated. He also marched with Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.
He died in 1990 at age 64.