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Sammi Davis, Jr’s PHOTO

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The CANNES Film Festival kicks off today and I’m sure there will be lots of red carpet drooling and debate about blockbuster films, but the CANNES festivities always makes me nostalgic for Old Hollywood. The glamour, sophistication, camaraderie and intrigue — that intangible that’s so hard to capture today — except by maybe the men in the Ocean’s Eleven films lead by George Clooney.

So, when I received a copy of Photo last year, I was thrilled.

As a member of the legendary Rat Pack, SAMMI DAVIS, JR. was the ultimate insider. In Photo, we learn that he captured some of the most unguarded moments of his famous friends at work, at play, and in ways today’s paparazzi could only dream.

Thanks to Sammi’s longtime friend Burt Boyar, we now know that Sammi was not only a great entertainer, but he was deftly skilled at photography as well.

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Two great friends of Sammi’s and members of the Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, in their Las Vegas dressing room before one of their famously sold out performances. The Rat Pack would play the The Sands hotel in Las Vegas and whoever felt like performing each night did.

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I’ve always thought that Shirley MacLaine was one of the coolest women in Hollywood and I love that she was a guy’s girl and could hang with the Rat Pack no problem. This was taken one night after Frank Sinatra performed at the Copacabana in New York City.

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It’s been said that actress Kim Novak may have been the great love of Sammi’s life, but back in those days interracial dating was so taboo that a mob hit was taken out on Sammi. He had to schedule an arranged marriage to an African American dancer he was friends with to cover up the love affair with Kim and force the mob to retreat.

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One of my best girlfriends called me a few years back and said, “You’ve got to rent How To Marry a Millionaire, you are going to love the fashion and glamour!” Sammi captured this behind-the-scenes photo of Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, and Betty Grable as they took a break on the set.

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Growing up my Dad had a crush on Lola Folana, but I had no idea that she was once Sammi’s girlfriend. He took this photo of Lola when she was performing in Golden Boy in London.

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Sammi owned dozens of cameras and carried them with him on the road often capturing everyday people. He loved photographing women and he captured these young women hanging by the pool at Miami’s Lord Calvert hotel.

Photos: © 2007 Burt Boyar and Sammi Speaks LLC

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