Sammy Davis Jr:伟大的艺人,不为人知的故事

 

Sammy Davis Jr: The Untold Story of the Great Entertainer

By Robert Golomb – Last updated Mar 7, 2019

Sammy Davis Jr:伟大的艺人不为人知的故事

作者:Robert Golomb

2019年3月7日更新

翻译:Anna Yunpeng Chen

 

NEW YORK – Sammy Davis Jr., the late legendary multi – talented black singer, dancer, actor and comedian, whose life and career have been profiled on the currently playing wonderful PBS documentary, “Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Got To Be Me”, was reportedly once on a golf course with his close friend, the late iconic comedian Jack Benny, when someone asked him what his golf handicap was. “Handicap”, he responded, “Talk about handicap. I’m a one-eyed Negro Jew.”

Sammy Davis Jr,极富传奇色彩,多才多艺的已故黑人歌手、舞者、演员和喜剧表演者。美国公共广播公司(PBS)目前正在播放的一部精彩的纪录片:《Sammy Davis Jr:我必须做我自己》,讲述了他的生活和职业生涯。据报道,有一次他和密友、已故的偶像级喜剧演员Jack Benny在高尔夫球场上,被人问到他打高尔夫球的缺陷是什么,他回答到:“说到缺陷,我是一个独眼的黑种犹太人。”

That comment – which he recounted in his auto-biography and was repeated in countless articles written about him during his life which began in 1925, and even continued to be told by entertainment writers after his death in 1990 – was not intended to be a joke. Davis was, in fact, a Negro (a term, of course, that has since been replaced by the words black man) – Jew with one eye. And his disability, religion and race had become intertwined through a strange series of events, some of which are highlighted in the documentary.

这句话,绝不是故意说的一句玩笑。他在自传中再次说过这样的话,在他始于1925年的一生中,无数关于他的文章也不断复述过这句话,甚至在他1990年世后,娱乐作家们还在讲述这句话。事实上,Davis是一个黑人,也是一个独眼的犹太人。他的残疾、宗教和种族通过一系列的事件奇特地交织在一起,其中一些事件在纪录片中得到了突出的表现。

Davis, whose mother was a Catholic and whose father was a Baptist, had back in 1953 developed a close friendship with the comedian and TV host Eddie Cantor. Cantor, who was Jewish, had given a mezuzah – a small capsule containing a brief Hebrew blessing traditionally affixed to door posts in the homes of observant families of the Jewish faith – as a special gift to Davis.

Davis的母亲是天主教徒,父亲是浸礼会教徒。早在1953年,他就与喜剧演员、电视主持人Eddie Cantor建立了亲密的友谊。Cantor是犹太人,他送给Davis一件特别的礼物—门柱圣卷,一个密封的小盒子里装着一段简短的希伯来文祝福语,按照传统,这些祝福语要贴在守信的犹太家庭的门框上。

Rather than placing his mezuzah in his own home, however, Davis wore it around his neck every day, telling friends that he believed it would provide him with good luck. There was one day, and the only day- November 19h, 1954 – that Davis forgot to wear Cantor’s gift. In the late evening of that life- altering day, as Davis was driving to his Los Angeles home after performing in an evening show in Las Vegas, he became involved in a horrific automobile accident, tragically resulting in the loss of his left eye.

Davis没有把“门柱圣卷”放在自己家里,而是每天挂在脖子上,并告诉朋友们,他相信这会给他带来好运。1954年11月19日这一天,也是唯一的一天,Davis忘记戴Cantor的礼物了。就是在那天的深夜,他的人生被改变了。当Davis结束在拉斯维加斯的夜场表演,驱车回洛杉矶家的途中,遭遇了一场可怕的车祸。不幸的是,车祸让他失去了左眼。

The paradoxes surrounding the accident, as Davis later recalled, soon spawned his desire to study the Jewish religion and learn about the history of the Jewish people, whom he viewed as experiencing throughout the centuries prejudice and hatred similar to what black people had also long endured. So, it could have been almost literally said that upon his formal conversion to his new religion in early 1960 that Davis had become a true “Negro-Jew”.

Davis后来回忆到,这场事故用常理根本无法解释,这很快激发了他研究犹太宗教和了解犹太民族历史的欲望。他认为,在过去几个世纪里,犹太民族与黑人一样,长期忍受着相似的偏见和仇恨。1960年初,Davis正式皈依了新的宗教信仰。所以,理论上来讲,从这时起Davis就成为了一个真正的“黑人-犹太人”。

But it was the “Negro” half of Davis rather than the “Jewish” part that was to make him the victim of intense racial hatred. As could be readily inferred from the documentary, when Davis in a Jewish ceremony married May Britt, a white, Swedish-born actress, on November 13, 1960, it was his race not his religion which stirred the hatred of many Americans against him.

但正是Davis身上的“黑人”部分,而不是“犹太人”部分,使他成为强烈种族仇恨的受害者。从纪录片中不难推断,当1960年11月13日,戴维斯按犹太人习俗的婚礼迎娶出生于瑞典的白人女演员梅·布里特时,激起许多美国人对他的仇恨的,不是他的宗教信仰而是他的种族。

As that wedding day drew close, Davis received numerous death threats, requiring him to hire round the clock armed security guards to protect him and Britt. Those death threats were to continue for years after the couple married. It might seem hard to believe in today’s America, but at that time, hatred towards inter- racial couples reflected the biases of many Americans.

随着婚礼的临近,Davis收到了无数的死亡威胁,迫使他雇佣24小时的武装保安来保护他和Britt。即便在他们婚后,这些死亡威胁还持续了数年。这在今天的美国似乎是难以置信的,但在当时,对跨种族伴侣的敌意反映了许多美国人的偏见。

A look at the history of America in the middle of the 20th Century tells the disconcerting story. On the day Davis and Britt were married, 23 states still held “anti- miscegenation laws” in their penal codes. And Davis’ own California had repealed its own hideous laws barring inter-racial marriage only 12 years earlier. While the United States Supreme Court declared all such vile laws unconstitutional in 1967, such bigotry did in fact, actually mirror the sentiments of a wide majority of citizens throughout the nation for many years. A national poll taken in 1958, for example, found that a mere 4% of Americans approved of marriages between blacks and whites.

回顾20世纪中叶的美国历史,你会发现这个令人不安的故事。在Davis和Britt结婚的那天,23个州的刑法中仍然有“反通婚法”。Davis所在的加州也仅在12年前才废除禁止跨种族婚姻的可恶法律。美国最高法院最终在1967年宣布所有这些卑鄙的法律都是违宪的。不过,这种偏执的立法,事实上确实折射了多年来大多数美国公民的心理。例如,1958年的一项全国民意调查发现,只有4%的美国人赞成黑人和白人结婚。

Davis, though, seemed to be more upset by how his marriage to May received the scorn of then President-elect John F. Kennedy than he was by the death threats or the prejudices held by many Americans. As presented in the documentary, Davis along with his friend the inimitable singer Frank Sinatra and several other major Hollywood stars of that time had worked on behalf of JFK during the 1960 presidential campaign, and Davis had been scheduled to perform at Kennedy’s January 20h, 1961 Inauguration.

然而,令Davis感到更加难过的不是死亡威胁或许多美国人的偏见,而是他和梅的婚姻受到时任总统候选人John F. Kennedy的蔑视。在纪录片中,Davis和他的朋友、独一无二的歌手Frank Sinatra,以及其他几位当时的好莱坞大牌明星,在1960年的总统竞选中为Kennedy工作,Davis原本计划在1961年1月20日Kennedy的就职典礼上表演。

However, Kennedy, later said by some historians to be concerned about the controversy surrounding the then recent Davis-Britt marriage, withdrew his invitation for the entertainer to perform; worse still, he even went so far as to dis-invite Davis from attending it. It was a hurt and disappointment that several of Davis’ friends and family members were to later say would remain with him throughout the rest of his life.

然而,Kennedy取消了他的演出邀请,甚至更过分地是,压根就不邀请他参加就职典礼。据后来一些历史学家表示,Kennedy这么做是因为担心当时围绕着Davis-Briritt婚姻引发的争议。Davis的一些家人和朋友后来说,这件事对Davis来说是余生都挥之不去的伤害和失望。

But it did not make Davis lose his sense of love of humanity or his ability to forgive. Sounds presumptuous? Allow me to describe a long past personal experience to explain that claim: First fast forward to an August day in mid- northern NYS about ten years after the JFK incident: While off from college in the summer of 1970, I worked as a lifeguard in Hotel Brickman, located in the rural area known as the Catskills. Brickman was but one of of a couple of dozens of Catskill hotels, which included the Grossinger’s, The Concord and the Brown’s. Enjoying their heydays in the 1950’s and 1960’s, these hotels, now defunct, offered their guests, among many other amenities, comedy shows performed by an impressive list of the best- known entertainers of the time.

但这并没有使Davis失去对人性的爱,也没有使他失去宽恕的能力。听起来有些武断?那么,请允许我讲述一段过去很久的个人经历来解释我为什么这么说:先来说说大约在JFK遇刺事件十年后,快进到八月中旬的一天,在NYS北部: 我1970年夏天大学毕业后,就在位于Catskill乡下的Brickman酒店做救生员,Brickman是Catskill几十家酒店中的一家,其他的还包括Grossinger’s, The Concord and the Brown’s。这些饭店在20世纪五六十年代正享受着它们的鼎盛时期,如今已不复存在。它们为客人提供了许多便利设施和享受,其中包括由当时最著名的艺人表演的喜剧节目。

If you are under 40 and don’t know who they were, just ask your parents or grandparents to tell you about Milton Berle, Henny Youngman, Jerry Lewis, Mel Brooks, Danny Kaye, Shecky Greene and Jackie Mason. They, and a few dozen other top show people, regularly performed in many of the Catskill Hotels during that time. Of all that long list of talents, Sammy Davis Jr. was the top billing. And one of the hotels in which Davis sometimes performed was Hotel Brickman, a fact I learned one August day during a pleasant after work discussion with the hotel’s captain of the bellhops.

如果你还不到40岁,不知道他们是谁,那就问问你的父母或祖父母,让他们给你讲讲米Milton Berle、Henny Youngman、Jerry Lewis、Mel Brooks、Danny Kaye、Shecky Greene和Jackie Mason。在那段时间里,他们和其他几十位顶级表演家定期在Catskill的许多酒店演出。在这些众多天才表演家中,Sammy Davis Jr.位居头牌。Davis演出的酒店之一是Brickman酒店。这是8月的一天下班后,我与酒店的领班愉快的交谈中得知的。

The man, a tallish, broad- shouldered, middle aged guy who had worked in the hotel for more than 20 years, was known to have met many of the entertainers who performed at the hotel during his time there. The “Captain”, who seemed to like me, said that he had a personal story to tell about Sammy Davis, which he predicted would make a great impression on me.

领班是名身材高大,肩膀宽阔的中年男人,在这家酒店已经工作了20多年,据说他在酒店期间遇到过许多来这里表演的艺人。领班似乎很喜欢我,他说有一个自己经历的关于Sammy Davis萨的故事要讲,他预言这个故事会给我留下深刻的印象。

It did, and over the years my brain has relived it countless times. I have also told it many times to friends, acquaintances and even students in my graduate English classes. As a result, I believe that (almost) every one of the words of the tale the captain of the bellhops of the Hotel Brickman told me on a long-gone hot summer early evening remains well stored in my memory bank. And I can still recall his words as follows:

的确如他所言,多年来,我的大脑无数次地重温那个故事。我还多次把这个故事讲给我的朋友、熟人,甚至研究生英语课上的学生。我相信,Brickman酒店领班在那个逝去已久的炎热夏夜给我讲的那个故事,差不多每一句话都保存在我的记忆库里。我还记得他这样告诉我:

It was some time in the summer of 1962 that Davis, who was with his wife May, had come to the hotel to perform one weekend. After the couple left the limousine that had transported them to the hotel, their luggage was taken to their suite by one of the hotel’s bellhops. As I was to later learn, it turned out to be the wrong guy for the job. He was an ignorant, white racist who while escorting Sammy and May to their room, made several nasty remarks regarding the difference in the color of their skins.

1962年夏天的一个周末,Davis和他的妻子May来酒店演出。这对夫妇从送他们来酒店的豪华轿车下来后,一个行李员过来帮他们把行李送到套房。后来我才知道,事实证明这个人根本不适合这份工作。他是一个无知的白人种族主义者,在陪同Sammy和May去他们房间时,对他们肤色的差异发表了几句恶毒的话。

Sammy, as you would expect, was outraged. Shortly later, he found the manager of Brickman to complain about the ugly verbal abuse he and his wife had just suffered. The racist bellhop was fired that same day. The story, though, did not end there.

正如你所料,Sammy被激怒了。不久之后,他找到Brickman的经理,投诉他和妻子刚刚遭受的恶劣的言语辱骂。种族歧视的行李员当天被解雇了。然而,故事并没有就此结束。

Two summers later Sammy, again accompanied by his wife, returned to perform at the hotel. While standing in the lobby waiting for their luggage to be taken to their room, the couple was approached by a young guy, who himself worked as a bell hop at the hotel. Given what had happened two years before, the guy might have been taking a chance of losing his own job, but yet, he identified himself as a friend of that racist bellhop who had insulted Sammy and May two years before.

两年后的夏天,Sammy又在妻子的陪伴下回到酒店演出。当这对夫妇站在大厅里等行李被送到房间时,一个年轻的男子走近了他们,这个人也在酒店当行李员,他表示自己是两年前侮辱Sammy和May的那名种族主义行李员的朋友。考虑到两年前发生的事情,这名男子可是在冒着丢掉自己工作的风险。

I, as the bell hop captain assigned to the lobby, witnessed all this. So I was clearly able to see the look of annoyance on Sammy’s face. May also looked upset. And as you might expect, the friend of the racist bellhop had enough decency and common sense to begin by telling Sammy and his wife how disgusted he was by how his then co-worker had spoken to them the last time they were at the hotel. However, he then added that his admittedly justifiably fired pal has a wife and four young children, had been unemployed since his firing and his house was currently going through foreclosure.

 

我,作为分配到大厅的行李员领班,亲眼目睹了这一切。我能清楚地看到Sammy脸上恼怒的表情。May看起来也很沮丧。正如你期待的那样,那位种族歧视的行李员的朋友有足够的涵养和常识,一上来先告诉Sammy和他的妻子,他的前同事在上次他们来酒店时对他们说话的方式让自己感到多么恶心。然后,他又补充说,他那位被解雇得一点不冤的朋友有妻子和四个年幼的孩子,自被解雇后一直失业,房子也因无力还款面临被没收。

What I then saw and heard I will remember until the day I die: Sammy asked the guy how much money the friend whom he had come to plead for would have earned the past two years. The guy told him 12,000 dollars. Sammy then asked him to write on a piece of paper his friend’s full name. Sammy then opened his wallet, took out a check and filled it out. He handed the young bell hop, the check-made out, I later learned for 12,000 dollars – and told him to deliver it to his financially struggling buddy. Sammy then added that he was going to see the owner of the hotel to tell him to rehire his one-time antagonist. His final words to the young bellhop who had the courage to come to speak to him that day was ‘tell your friend to report to work tomorrow. I promise there will be a job waiting for him.’

To paraphrase the title of a great old song, “What the World needs now is another Sammy Davis”.

接下来我的所见所闻终生难忘:Sammy问那个行李员,他来求情的那个朋友过去两年能赚多少钱。那个人告诉他12000美元。Sammy让他在一张纸上写下他朋友的全名,然后打开钱包,拿出一张支票,填上名字,并把支票递给那位年轻的行李员,让他交给他那位经济困难的朋友。我后来才知道这是一张1.2万美元的支票。Sammy接着说,他会去见酒店老板,让老板重新雇用这个曾经敌对他的人。那天Sammy对那位有勇气来找他谈话的年轻行李员说的最后一句话是:“告诉你的朋友明天去上班。我保证会有一份工作等着他”。

套用一首老歌的标题,“现在世界需要的是另一个Sammy Davis”。

 

转自The Published Reporter

 

 

 

 

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