IRS Frees Sammy Davis Jr. Estate

Look for a flood of new releases

By Marcus Errico May 05, 1997 11:30 PMTags
Hey, cat, get ready for that Sammy Davis Jr. box set. Davis' widow, Altovise, announced Friday that she and the Internal Revenue Service have resolved a $7-million tax dispute over the late entertainer's estate, paving the way for new Davis recordings and merchandise.

Davis, who died of throat cancer at his Beverly Hills home on May 16, 1990, left nearly $5 million in debts to the IRS. With interest and penalties, that sum had ballooned to the $7-million mark.

It was either settlement or bankruptcy for the Davis clan, according to Altovise Davis. "Sammy was a fighter," she said Friday. "[But] I know he would have wanted us to reach a settlement with the government, rather than declare bankruptcy. He loved this country and the people in it, and recognized his responsibilities as an American."

All royalties from the Rat Packer's films, TV appearances, records and other memorabilia had been going straight into IRS coffers since Davis' death, Shirley Rhodes, co-executor of the entertainer's estate said. The estate had held up issuing new Davis material until the IRS debt was cleared.

Now that the IRS and Sammy are square, the door to the Davis vaults are open, and we can expect a flood of new albums, re-released and never-before-released videos and even a CD-ROM. "I hope some of that will be coming out soon," Rhodes told E! Online Monday.

Davis was one of the last great, all-around performers. He was an accomplished dancer, singer, actor and comedian. His screen credits include Porgy and Bess, Oceans 11 and Robin and the Seven Hoods, the latter two with fellow Rat Packers Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Among his hit songs: "I've Gotta Be Me," "Mr. Bojangles" and "The Candy Man."

Altovise Davis did not divulge the details of the settlement; neither did IRS spokesmen in Washington, D.C., or Los Angeles. "Would you want us discussing your tax information with other people?" one asked.