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From the Stars and Stripes archives

Sammy wows 'em at first Viet show

Sammy Davis Jr. talks with audience members during his show in February, 1972 at Long Binh, Vietnam.

KEN SCHULTZ/STARS AND STRIPES

By KEN SCHULTZ | Stars and Stripes | Published: February 25, 1972

LONG BINH, Vietnam—Entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. rocked an audience of 15,000 American GIs here Wednesday with a two-hour performance of song, dance and impersonations, his first show of a week-long tour of bases in Vietnam.

The sky was overcast it did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of GIs who besieged Davis during the show for autographs.

At a news conference after the performance, Davis said, "I've never been so tired and felt so good in my life."

Davis arrived in Vietnam Tuesday with his wife, Altovise, and a troupe of singers, dancers, comedians and musicians for a week of entertaining American servicemen and holding rap sessions. He visited three American fire bases Tuesday but declined to discuss with reporters the nature of his talks with GIs.

"As soon as I tell you what they're talking about, they won't talk to me again," he said.

This is the entertainer's first trip to Vietnam. Plans for an earlier tour were cancelled when Davis developed a kidney ailment and doctors advised him to give up drinking liquor. "I only drink wine, now," he said.

During the show, black comedian Timmie Rodgers, who has been touring with Davis for a year and a half, evoked a roar from the crowd with his rendition of the history of soul: "The first caveman was a Soul Brother. Who else would kill a dinosaur and barbecue the ribs?"

While other members of the troupe — including singers Sondra Williams and Lynn Kellogg — added variety to the performance, the show was all Sammy Davis.

With perspiration dripping down his face, Davis displayed his versatility with impersonations of Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Cagney; buckled on a six-gun for a demonstration of fast draw techniques, then electrified the audience with a display of his prowess on the drums and piano.
 

Sammy Davis Jr. talks with audience members during his show in February, 1972 at Long Binh, Vietnam.
KEN SCHULTZ/STARS AND STRIPES

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