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Sammy Davis, Jr. Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1956. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-114446).

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Davis, Sammy, Jr. (08 December 1925–16 May 1990), variety performer and entertainer, was born in Harlem, New York, the son of Sammy Davis, Sr., an African-American dancer, and Elvera “Baby” Sanchez, a Puerto Rican chorus girl, both in Will Mastin’s Holiday in Dixieland...

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Miranda, Carmen (09 February 1909–05 August 1955), star of stage, screen, and recordings, was born Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha in Marco de Canaveses, a small town in Portugal, the daughter of Jose Maria Pinto da Cunha, a barber, and Maria Emilia Miranda. Her father immigrated to Brazil in 1909, and the family followed when Miranda was three. “Carmen,” as she was always called, grew up in Rio’s Lapa waterfront district, a haven for sailors and prostitutes. At a convent school Miranda became interested in singing. She later told interviewers, “From a very early age, I knew I felt the need to be in show business.” When Olinda, the eldest daughter, died in 1923, Miranda quit school to work as a window decorator and as a salesclerk in a hat shop. She learned broken English from watching American movies, especially westerns. She modeled hats and began making them for society clients....

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Webb, Clifton (19 November 1891?–13 October 1966), dancer, singer, and stage and screen actor, was born Webb Parmalee Hollenbeck in Indianapolis, Indiana, the son of Jacob Grant Hollenbeck, a railroad traffic manager, and Maybelle Parmalee. Sources differ concerning his date of birth, listing it variously from 1891 to 1896. Webb’s parents separated after a move to New York City while he was still a child. His mother was a classic example of a “stage mother” and her son’s constant companion. She encouraged his early interest and talents in the arts. In 1900 Webb was chosen from a dancing school to play Cholly in ...