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Why We’re Adopting A Baby?—Sammy David & May Britt


Fred: You and May have gone through an awful lot, Sammy, because of your marriage—brickbats, publicity, the spotlight. How do you feel about it?

Sammy: Well, it’s taught me, Fred, what I always believed in-that basically humanity is a pretty decent thing and that people are wonderful. For instance, there were people two years ago when my wife and I announced our engagement, who said, “How can he do this? The indignity of it all. That’s the end of his career.” Like what right did I have? Well, I have found that the press has been kind and honest and fair. That’s all we ever asked for, my wife and I. We’re not trying to be banner-carriers. We don’t want to cause any revolution. We are two people who were and are very much in love, and God has blessed us with a child, which we will try to raise with all of the intelligence and love—and the added love that we have. And this has focused, to me, a sort of decency that I think, under normal circumstances, I would have never known.

I am grateful. Every time a Nazi picketed me or I got a bigoted letter, it made me appreciate the ten people who didn’t write, who were non-commital, who, maybe as you walk down the street, smile at you, or kind of nod and say. “Hello” or maybe when my wife walks down the street now, they say, “Hi, May, how’s Sammy?”

The people who stop and say, “How’s the baby?” to me, in an elevator. These are the things you appreciate. Not that you want to prove anything. But let’s not deny the truth and let’s be honest—it is the unusual; it’s not the norm—our relationship, my wife and I getting married. We are still both public figures. The fact that our marriage will last is based on the love that we have for each other, rather than the controversy that it will cause, because it wasn’t entered into under those circumstances.

But these are my theories and mv wife’s theories, and because of that, we now live in a world that is not a little cubicle that’s fit for only two people. We have our friends. Our marriage certainly separated the men from the boys. You know, we found out who our friends were quick enough. And—as the saying goes: “We grappled them with hoops of steel.”

So, we have a good life. But I’m not about to write an article in Reader’s Digest that says, “Everybody—I Believe in Mixed Marriages.” I believe in people being happy. If that’s the happiness they want and they don’t hurt anyone, then that’s what they’re entitled to.

FRED: You know. Sammy, knowing you as I have for fifteen years, it seems to me that in your blessed marriage with May and in this little baby, you’ve become the personification of what the world should be.

SAMMY: Well, the whole world could do with more love, Fred—you’d be surprised how many problems it can solve. We’re fortunate to have a lot of love in our lives. May and I. We love children—

FRED: Hey. Sammy, I understand you and May are going to adopt a Negro baby, is that true?

SAMMY: Yes it is, Fred. We love children. We believe in spreading as much love as possible, and children need love, and that is the whole purpose of life, isn’t it?

FRED: Yep—that sure is what it’s all about. . . . When did you decide this?

SAMMY: We decided on it a long time ago—in fact, before we were married. And now that Tracey is here—we figure it would be nice if she’d have a little brother to play with, so that’s what we’re gonna do. He’ll be a two-year-old boy, so she will have a playmate.

FRED: You know they say when people adopt a child, they usually have a natural one afterwards—sometimes soon.

SAMMY: Well, nothing would make us happier, the more the merrier.

FRED: Are you going to adopt him in Europe or the United States?

SAMMY: Right here in Los Angeles.

FRED: I guess there are quite a few problems in this procedure.

SAMMY: Well, we’re going through the preliminary procedure right now, and there are no more problems than beset any other person who wants to adopt a child—investigations of all kinds before permission is given. They really put you through the wringer. It’s a lot easier the regular way. In Los Angeles there are no orphan homes—kids have foster parents. When you are set to adopt here, they take the kids to play in a park and the prospective parents “view them.”

FRED: How about your parents and May’s parents—how do they feel about it?

SAMMY: I couldn’t care less how they feel, you know, one side or the other, frankly, because they don’t have to live with us. We live with ourselves—and we’re happy that way. But as far as I know—I haven’t made an inquiry about it—but I don’t see how they could have any complaints about someone giving love and affection to an otherwise unwanted child. They would have to be pretty cold and pretty callous.

FRED: I guess you’ll be raising the baby in the Jewish faith.

SAMMY: Of course, just like the rest of us. We’ve thought about it for a long time, discussed it thoroughly. We both felt very keen and strong about it long before we were married and we both decided on it.

FRED: I don’t know whether you’ve ever thought of it that way or not, but actually it’s like an avant-gardemarriage, so to speak.

SAMMY: Well. I have thought of it that way. Fred, because we have had no choice. Long before we announced our engagement, my wife—who is a tremendously intelligent woman—and I sat down, and we discussed every facet of what would be. But you can’t run away from what you feel, and I would not run away, because I love my wife too much. I wasn’t going to be an expatriate and run to Paris and live, because in running away I would die. I couldn’t live; I couldn’t exist. I’m not saying that everybody says. “Hooray for Sammy and May.” which is not what I want them to say anyway—but they leave us alone. The wall that May and I have around us is not a wall where those who are friends and those who would like to be friends cannot come in. But it is a wall against bigotry and narrow-mindedness.

FRED: You know, actually, in your own way. you have fought the good fight just as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor have fought their own fight against bigotry and narrow-mindedness.

SAMMY: That is it. Love conquers all. you know. I am a religious man. and my wife is a religious woman—but not a fanatic in any way. But I believe in my religion and our religion—that somebody watches and helps. You just don’t get kicked.

And the great thing about America that no other country has—and I say this without trying to wave a flag of any kind—is that if you kick a man long enough, one of the guys that might have indulged in the early part of the kicking is going to say. “Hey, wait a minute. Hey, he doesn’t deserve that much of a kicking. Hey, let’s investigate a little bit.” And then the decency flows through. This is the way it is. And I hope it continues this way, and I hope that maybe a hundred years from now, it’ll be a little easier for the next guy because of what we went through.

FRED: I have heard rumors May hasn’t been able to work because of this. Is that so?

SAMMY: No. First of all, let me explain: My wife only made three pictures in America. Naturally, there was pressure applied here and there from various commercial aspects. But she has refused two motion pictures, which she didn’t want to do. She is now getting ready to go back into her chosen profession, that of acting on TV, which is now really one of the most exciting mediums to be in dramatically. And the networks are very pleased to get a star who is a good actress and is as beautiful as she is.

I am very pleased. I only want my wife to be happy. If she’s happy making films, and it doesn’t interfere with our life that we have to any great extent—crazy. If she doesn’t want to make them—crazy. Whatever she wants is paramount with me.

FRED: Sammy, you know we have a lot in common, in that we’re both married to European girls. What is there about them that puts them above American girls?

SAMMY: Well. I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe it’s anything racial—I mean, you know, regional, with nations and things. I really don’t. I don’t believe that all French women are sexy, and l don’t believe that all Swedish girls go running in the woods, like in Ingmar Bergman’s pictures.

FRED: I didn’t mean that. I mean they know how to handle their guys better.

SAMMY: No. I don’t believe that either. No, I really don’t. I believe that the individual has something innately and I don’t think it has anything to do with the country. I don’t think a European girl is any smarter than an American girl. I’m lucky to have found May but I’d like to think that she would still have the sensitivities, the intelligence, everything else she has, if she had been born in Hartford, Connecticut—because that’s the kind of a person she is.

FRED: You’re not going to find girls like May Britt in Hartford.

SAMMY: Well, you know what I mean.

FRED: Okay, so let me ask a very unimportant question. Tell me about the baby: Who changes its diapers? Do you change her diapers?

SAMMY: No, I have never changed the baby’s diapers as yet.

FRED: Don’t you know the difference between the triangular and rectangular diaper, man?

SAMMY: I know ail about it. but I don’t do it.

FRED: Why not?

SAMMY: Because my wife does and the nurse does—and I don’t.

FRED: You’re a real father, you are.

SAMMY: Yeah, that’s it.

FRED: What’s Tracey like?

SAMMY: Well, at six months, she hasn’t really formed much of a personality, you know. But she is an adorable child, a good child. She cries very little, happy most of the time, which I think reflects the house that she lives in.

FRED: Sammy, on your career at this point: how do you analyze it right now, your position in the world of show business?

SAMMY: I’m very happy about the position I hold now. It keeps getting better all the time. I dig it. I like the fact that I’m getting opportunities, and the opportunities are still coming. I’ve been in the business for a long time, Fred, and the fact that these things are still happening for me makes it very exciting.

FRED: Does it ever get—is there ever a sameness to it, Sammy?

SAMMY: Well, there’s no sameness to it. It’s always exciting. It’s the only thing I know; it’s the only thing I ever want to be connected with, one way or another. I’d like to be certainly a director or a producer of one kind or another—but that’s way in the future when I’m a man of fifty or sixty years old. That long.

FRED: What are the main problems career- wise now?

SAMMY: Thank God, there are none.

FRED: What does money mean to you?

SAMMY: Proportionately, the right things. Only the fact that I can be able to supply the necessary luxuries that a man would like to supply for his wife and family, that’s all.

FRED: Why do you like being a fast draw on the gun?

SAMMY: Well, it’s a hobby, that’s all; it’s a hobby with me. and every man has a hobby. I collect Colt single-actions.

FRED: There aren’t many guys who I have as a hobby drawing a gun fast. Where did it come from? Why is it such a kick for you?

SAMMY: I just started collecting guns, that’s all. Mel Torme was really responsible, for it in the beginning, because Mel had and still has the best collection of single-action Colts of anyone in show business. He got me bugged; he gave me the first gun. Then I started getting involved in fast draw, you know, and then—like, one thing led to another, and now I’m doing Westerns, you know.

FRED: Now, these TV heroes that you see on television—Hugh O’Brian and Jim Arness and all these other guys—can they really outdraw you?

SAMMY: Well, I don’t know if they can or not. Let me say this: The gentlemen that I’ve been up against, those who appear in television series. I have not been able to meet one who could beat me. And the guys who teach. Rod Redwing and Arno Jala . . . Arno I beat—I beat the teacher on the Jack Paar Show. But this doesn’t go for these kids who practice twenty-four hours a day.

Let me put it this way, in the final analysis: I feel I can hold my own in the fast-draw world, as it stands today, because I practice a lot and I like it and it’s fun and it’s relaxing for me.

FRED: Inwardly though, it’s an expression of manliness, isn’t it, Sam? I mean, like, you know, as kids we loved the Westerns and the cowboys and who could draw the gun the fastest. Isn’t that behind the whole thing?

SAMMY: Well, I don’t say that. Everybody loves doing Westerns, because it’s like playing cowboys and Indians and getting paid for it. You know, I did a “Rifleman” with Chuck Connor, and I had to say, “All right, go for your gun. Marshal,” and I couldn’t believe it. I said, “They’re paying me for this.” Actually, they didn’t. I did the show for nothing. But that’s something else again.

FRED: Sammy, you said something that was very touching to me before. You haven’t permitted pictures of your child, except one. Why is that?

SAMMY: Well, I just don’t want to get into the realm of: Well, let’s show off the baby of the year. Our baby is no different than hundreds of thousands of other babies that are born into the world, and they don’t take pictures of the Jones baby. Now, I admit that because of the personalities involved there is a certain amount of curiosity.

Well, we—I told the press when they asked, “Can we come to the house?” I said. “Listen, I’ve got to take my wife out of the hospital. I’m not going to stop. We’re going to ride out—she’ll be in a wheelchair; I’m going to put her in the car. If you fellows want to be there, it’ll be my pleasure. But there’ll be no pictures of the house. There’ll be no layouts for magazines either. And I feel that it should be handled with the dignity that everybody is entitled to. It is an obligation of a personality to let people see the baby. But then you carry that to a point and that’s it. You know?

FRED: What kind of philosophy governs your life at this time? How do you live with this, this constant pressure for prying?

SAMMY: Well, I live with the thought that it won’t always be this way. I live with the thought that perhaps one day they’ll let me alone and discuss me only as an entertainer, not as a man who has done something out of the norm.

I will think that one day they will get tired of knowing about why did this Negro marry a white girl and what does their baby look like and what color is the baby and what shade is it. It’s getting less and less all the time. My undying thanks to the members of the press. They have handled everything so beautifully. Also to the people of America.

FRED: What’s going to make great talent acceptable again on records and musically and on radio? The thing that has made inferior and mediocre talent acceptable, what’s going to change that?

SAMMY: I haven’t the faintest idea, I really haven’t. I only know that on packaged goods and on LP’s. the pros sell, and they don’t sell on singles. Unless you made a five-year study of the music business as it stands today, it would be a difficult thing to say, and analyze; and I don’t think that I’m prepared or qualified to analyze it. I really don’t.

Classical music sells more today than it ever did before, along with the Twist and the Slop and everything else. And I must say that out of this has come some pretty exciting talents. Maybe if it hadn’t been for rock ’n’ roll and rhythm and blues, whatever you want to call it. Ray Charles wouldn’t have come to the front, and for him alone, it was worth it, you know. And our business cannot sustain and be exciting with people still remaining as it is, you know. . . .

Good things happen, you know, and bad tilings’ll happen, too. I am not here to say that I am angry because I haven’t had a hit record in five years, because I’m not. I’m swinging and it’s awful tough to get into the Copa. you know.

FRED: One last question, Sammy—about your family. Do you plan to have any more children?

SAMMY: Well, you know, it’s not what I plan—it’s what God plans.

FRED: You know. Sammy, so much has been heard about adopted children of all kinds, and I think you crystallized it beautifully in those words you said earlier about “giving love and affection to unwanted children.” That’s a beautiful reason for adopting a baby.


Sammy Davis stars in “Reprieve” for Allied Artists. Fred Robbins can be heard daily on radio’s “Assignment Hollywood.”