Sammy Davis Jr. Show, The

The weird part about The Sammy Davis Jr. Show is how often Sammy wasn’t on it.  Sammy had been a frequent guest on other variety shows and specials and hosted a few, all to great success so NBC arranged to give him his own show.  The first show aired on January 7, 1966 and got tepid reviews despite a guest list that included Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Nancy Wilson, Corbett Monica, the dance team of Augie & Margo, and The Will Mastin Trio.  Davis himself was reportedly unhappy with the show.

Then the next three weeks, guest hosts filled in for Sammy.  Months earlier, he had taped a variety special for ABC that had not been aired.  When the network finally scheduled it, they reminded Davis of a clause in his contract that said that he would not appear on any other TV program for three weeks preceding the broadcast of the special.  NBC and Davis were furious and accused ABC of slotting the show in a deliberate effort to sabotage his new series.  That was probably the idea but it worked.  Sammy Davis Jr. had to stay off The Sammy Davis Jr. Show for three weeks which were hosted, one per week, by Johnny Carson, Sean Connery and Jerry Lewis.  Davis used that time to work on future shows and to try and revamp the format.  It helped a lot and the show got better when he returned to it but the momentum was gone…or something.  It was cancelled and the last episode — a one-man show with just Sammy — aired on April 22.

The last three or four episodes of the 15 episodes were produced after the cancellation notice. They were looser with more ad-libbing and Sammy booked guests that he wanted on the show as opposed to guests he was told would help the ratings. Many TV critics thought the series had finally found itself and urged NBC to give it another chance but that didn’t happen. There was talk of another network picking it up but that didn’t happen either. Sammy did a lot of television but didn’t have his own series again until his 1975 talk show, Sammy & Company, which was notorious for how much its guests fawned over each other.