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Sammy Davis, Jr

@ National Portrait Gallery


With superbly controlled exaggeration, Al Hirschfeld depicts the versatile singer, dancer, and actor Sammy Davis Jr. as a struggling boxer in Golden Boy, a 1964 musical adaptation of the 1930s play by Clifford Odets. Set against a sharp-edged, geometric cityscape, the figures of Davis and co-star Paula Wayne come to life with a supple grace and elegance. Davis's performance in Golden Boy, which featured one of the first fully integrated casts on Broadway, earned him a Tony Award nomination. The adaptation changed the main character from a Jewish to an African American fighter. "The swift, keen-edged lines about the Negro condition," Howard Taubman wrote of the musical in his review for the New York Times, "have bite and integrity." The same characteristics could be applied to Hirschfeld's incisive portrayal.
Ink And Graphite On Illustration Board
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National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
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National Portrait Gallery

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Smithsonian Institution