I was doing some spring cleaning and came across and old jacket that I made for the Sammy Davis Jr. collection back in the 70’s when I moved to Los Angeles. He was starting a clothing line and needed a pattern maker.
I was introduced to him at Disco 9000 up on Sunset Blvd. It was the Studio 54 of the west coast. It was a place where any night you could run into any celebrity. I was brought to his table where he had an entourage of beautiful people. Lola Folana had just come off the dance floor and slid in next to him at their private booth. The disco lights threw sparkles off her Halston dress, the one with the plunging neckline and handkerchief draped hem. It had the split open front that climbed up the thigh. It was one of Halston’s signature pieces during the disco phase.
Sammy leaned over the table to shake my hand. A cigarette dangled from his lips. The golden boy in a midnight blue nehru collared suit. His shirt was unbuttoned to the chest exposing a gold chained Chai around his neck (life in Hebrew). It was entangled with a red horn (Malocchio – Italian for evil eye) given to him by Sinatra.
Later that night me and a few hangers-on went to his house. The later it got, the more crowded it became. He had a shmear laid out in the kitchen. Deli food of all sorts flown in from New York. Lox, bagels and Sammy Davis Jr. The evening faded into a blur. I found myself sprawled out on a deck chair when the sun was coming up.
We met a few days later at his Beverly Hills loft.“ Hey Frank should meet you” he said. “2 dago’s from the east coast”. Sammy sat there and watched as I draped some muslin on a mannequin. “ OK, let’s hire this kid before Don Loper kidnaps him”. Don Loper at the time was a well known tailor and costume designer for the entertainment business.
Sammy’s clothing line had a short life. He continued to be one of the best dressed men in Hollywood. That night at Disco 9000 I can still hear Sister Sledge’s song which reminds me of him.
“He wears the finest clothes, the best designers, heaven knows, ooo, from his head down to his toes. Halston, Gucci, Fiorucci, he looks like a still, that man is dressed to kill. He’s the greatest dancer.”
another episode from: LIVING ON THE SELVEDGE