Music, Money, and Madness
By Matt Birkbeck
Harper Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780061450679, 280pp.
Publication Date: September 2009
List Price: $15.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.
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Adored by millions, Sammy Davis Jr. was considered an entertainment icon and a national treasure. But despite lifetime earnings that topped $50 million, Sammy died in 1990 near bankruptcy.
Years later his once-vivacious wife, Altovise, heir to one of the greatest entertainment legacies of the twentieth century, was living in poverty. With nowhere else to turn, she asked a former federal prosecutor, Albert Sonny Murray, to try to resolve Sammy's debts and restore his estate. For seven years Sonny probed Sammy's life and came to understand the tormented artist as a man of tragic complexity.
Deconstructing Sammy is the extraordinary story of an international celebrity whose outsize talent couldn't save him from himself.
“Birkbeck has killer leads, gripping kickers and sensational descriptions. This cinematic book reads more like a detective story than a traditional ‘life of.”
-New York Times Book Review
“Tremendous. . . Birkbeck tells the epic of Sammy Davis Jr... from his Harlem boyhood to his wrenching deathbed (he died of cancer in 1990) in his Beverly Hills mansion, where various hangers-on, seeing the circling vultures, stripped his corpse even before it was a corpse.”
-Los Angeles Times Book Review
“A piece of investigative journalism that unravels what happened to Davis’ estate, and reveals more about the man...Birkbeck spoke to people that have never spoken before -- and the portrait of Sammy that emerges is difficult, demanding, and ultimately tragic.”
-NPR's Talk of the Nation
“Exceptionally detailed…makes tax law sexy,”
“With a journalist’s eye toward a great story, author Matt Birkbeck leads readers through a decades-long financial mess including cover-ups… mob connections, political friendships and snubbing.…Un-put-down-able…Stunning.”
-TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER, NATIONAL BOOK REVIEWER
“Davis’s remarkable life is certainly well-trod territory. Nevertheless, through interviews with close friends and confidants who had never spoken publicly before, Birkbeck digs up many startling details.”
-MICHAEL RUBINKAM, ASSOCIATED PRESS