Perspectives

Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me | AMERICAN MASTERS | February 19 at 9


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American Masters Celebrates Black History Month with the Broadcast Premiere of
Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me

Premieres Tuesday, February 19 at 9:00 p.m. ET on WOUB

Available for streaming the following day via pbs.org/americanmasters and PBS apps

This February, for Black History Month, American Masters profiles iconic performers who broke new ground in entertainment as the Civil Rights movement gathered momentum in America.  American Masters – Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me, the first major film documentary to examine the performer’s vast career and journey for identity through the shifting tides of civil rights and racial progress during 20th-century America, premieres nationwide Tuesday, February 19 at 9:00 p.m. ET on PBS. The PBS broadcast also features 20 minutes of exclusive bonus performance footage spanning Davis’ 50-year career after the documentary.

Sammy Davis, Jr. had an indisputably legendary career that was vast in scope and scale. His life was also complex, complicated and contradictory. Davis strove to achieve the American Dream in a time of racial prejudice and shifting political territory. A veteran of increasingly outdated show business traditions, he worked tirelessly to stay relevant, even as he frequently found himself caught between the bigotry of white America and the distaste of black America. In addition, Davis was the most public black figure to embrace Judaism, tying his identity to that of another persecuted minority. Featuring exclusive interviews with Billy Crystal, Norman Lear, Jerry Lewis, Whoopi Goldberg and Kim Novak, as well as never-before-seen photos from Davis’ vast personal collection and rare footage from his performances in television, film and concert, American Masters – Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me explores the life and art of a uniquely gifted entertainer whose trajectory paralleled the major flashpoints of American society, from the Great Depression through the 1980s.

“American Masters is honored to share the incredible stories of …remarkable African American trailblazers during Black History Month,” said Michael Kantor, American Masters Executive Producer. “Both Sammy Davis, Jr. overcame incredible obstacles to achieve great success, and has left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment and far beyond. Documentaries celebrate the enduring legacies while revealing little-known aspects of … lives.”

American Masters – Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC’s American Masters for WNET in coproduction with ZDF in collaboration with ARTE. Directed by Sam Pollard. Produced by Sally Rosenthal and Michael Kantor. Edited by Steven Wechsler. Written and co-produced by Laurence Maslon. Michael Kantor is executive producer.

Major support for American Masters – Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional support for this film is provided by The Leslie and Roslyn Goldstein Foundation, Rolf and Elizabeth Rosenthal, and Rhoda Herrick.

Major support for American Masters is provided by AARP. Additional support is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Rosalind P. Walter, Seton Melvin, Ellen and James Marcus, Vital Projects Fund , Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation , Judith and Burton Resnick, Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation, and public television viewers.