*The daughter of Sammy Davis Jr.’s second wife has spoken out about the controversy surrounding Billy Crystal’s Oscar bit in which he portrayed her father in blackface.
While many folks found the sketch uncomfortable, as Twitter reflected almost immediately, Tracy Davis tells The Hollywood Reporter, “I am 100 percent certain that my father is smiling,” adding that it wasn’t Crystal’s first time paying homage to the late Rat Packer, who died in 1990.
As previously reported, Sammy Davis Jr. was one of Crystal’s most popular impersonations during the 1980s. “Billy previously played my father when he was alive, and my father gave Billy his full blessing,” she continues, noting that “Saturday Night Live gave” the imitation “legendary status.”
Davis, now 50, does however take issue with using the word “blackface,” attributing the term born in the 1800s to describe white actors in makeup playing black characters, to early film stars such as Al Jolson, not Crystal, per se.
The ensuing debate, which was sparked in part because of last year’s controversy involving a gay slur uttered by Oscar director Brett Ratner (he later resigned), has many asking why, 25 years after Crystal first satirized Sammy Davis, Jr.’s look and mannerisms scandal-free, audiences are taking offense now.
For her part, Davis’ daughter is sending nothing but love to Crystal. “I know the mutual love, respect and admiration that you had for each other and for his kids, Jeff, Mark and I,” she says. “Thank you.”