I’ve written quite a lot about classic Hollywood romances.
Some are tragic, others are straight out of a romance novel, this relationship, in particular, is intriguing for other reasons.
The pairing of Sammy Davis Jr. and Kim Novak is an underrated coupling – an interesting one, actually.
In 1957, a couple of weeks after Kim was finished shooting
the greatest movie of all time, Vertigo, she stopped by her hometown of Chicago for a night out at Chez Paree.
The entertainment for that night? None other than the very charming Sammy Davis Jr.
According to this “Vanity Fair” piece on the matter, apparently – at first- Kim wanted to use Davis‘ flirtations as a way to get back at Harry Cohn for his mistreatment of her.
Eventually, she and Sammy fell into a cordial friendship, which saw them exchange numbers and midnight rendezvous hidden away from the public eye.
What attracted Kim to Sammy wasn’t his race (of course that was part of it) but his stage presence. Much like my attraction to the internationally known k-pop band BTS, Sammy Davis‘ stage presence oozed sensuality.
With a cigarette in one hand and a ribbon microphone in the other, Davis crooned his way into the depths of Novak‘s heart.
So, they started dating.
Fully aware that their interracial relationship in 1957 could very well ruin both of their career’s, the pair had to keep it low-key.
For a couple of months, Sammy and Kim were in complete and utter bliss.
But they knew that inevitably the gossip columns (specifically Dorothy Kilgalen) would sniff around and get a whiff of what their relationship was giving off.
Once Kilgalen alerted the general public, other gossip columns started to jump on the speculation bandwagon.
That was the first gust of wind that knocked down their carefully crafted house of cards.
Sadly, their relationship didn’t last too long after that.
They tried to continue their romance, by evading photographers, hiding in the backseats of cars, meeting behind closed doors, and just generally staying out of the public eye.
Between the press and Harry Cohn’s incessant harassment, Novak and Davis parted ways.
In 1957, America was still deeply segregated. Unfortunately, their relationship was a casualty of that toxic mindset.
If there were any classic Hollywood relationship that could’ve worked out, I wish it were this one. Not only would they have broken boundaries but, seeing an interracial couple on the covers on “Confidential” or “Photoplay” would’ve been a sight to see.
It truly is a shame.
If only we could go back in time.