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Davis learned to dance from his father and his "uncle" Will Mastin.
Davis joined the act as a child and they became the Will Mastin Trio.
He also recorded blues songs for Capitol Records in 1949, under the pseudonyms Shorty Muggins and Charlie Green.
It was as if I'd walked through a swinging door for 18 years, a door which they had always secretly held open." During service in World War II, the Army assigned Davis to an integrated entertainment Special Services unit and he found that the spotlight lessened the prejudice.
During his lifetime, Davis stated that his mother was Puerto Rican and born in San Juan.
However, in the 2003 biography In Black and White, author Wil Haygood writes that Davis's mother was born in New York City to parents of Cuban, Afro-Cuban, and African-American descent, and that Davis claimed he was Puerto Rican because he feared anti-Cuban backlash would hurt his record sales. As an infant, he was reared by his paternal grandmother.
was born on December 8, 1925, in the Harlem section of Manhattan in New York City, the son of entertainer and stage performer, Sammy Davis Sr.
(1900–1988), an African-American entertainer, and Elvera Sanchez (1905–2000), an Afro-Cuban tap dancer.