Lionel Richie to produce Sammy Davis Jr. biopic

  • Bang Showbiz
  • 19 January 2017
Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie has announced he will be co-producing a new biopic about the life and career of Sammy Davis Jr. and admits it will be an honour to tell the story of one of his "idols"

Lionel Richie is to produce a Sammy Davis Jr. biopic.

The 'Dancing on the Ceiling' hitmaker is going to bring Sammy's life story to the big screen and it will be based on the 1965 memoir 'Yes I Can: The Story Of Sammy Davis Jr.' which was co-written by Sammy, his wife Jane and author Burt Boyar.

The movie has finally got the go ahead after a long-running legal battle with the executors of Sammy Davis Jr.'s estate which dates back to 2012 and was focused on who owns the rights to the project.

Five years ago it was alleged that one of Sammy's daughters had sold the rights to two different companies and one of her sisters filed a $35 million lawsuit in response which was thrown out of court.

In 2015, a film, TV series and documentary about Sammy's career were announced but none of them came to fruition.

Now all outstanding issues have been resolved and all of the late entertainer's heirs, including his youngest son Manny, will work on the project along with producers Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Mike Menchel and Lionel.

Announcing the film, the former Commodores star said in a statement: "It's an honour for me to bring the life of one of my idols and friend to the screen. I'm so grateful to be working closely with the Davis family on this and couldn't be happier to be moving forward on this passion project."

Sammy was an acclaimed dancer and singer and was part of the famous Rat Pack super-group of entertainers popular in the 1950s and 1960s which included Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop and the collective regularly performed on stage together and all appeared in several movies including 'Ocean's 11' and 'Sergeants 3'.

Even though Sammy was one of the world's most popular stars when the Rat Pack performed in Las Vegas he was made to stay and prepare offsite because of racial segregation in the US.

Despite his huge success, Sammy's life was tinged with tragedy; he almost died in a car accident in San Bernadino, California, in 1954, an incident which resulted in him losing his left eye. While he recovered from his injuries he studied Judaism and became a Jew in 1961. He died from throat cancer in 1990.

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