Hulu Orders New Limited Series Based on Biography of Sammy Davis, Jr. by APB's Wil Haygood
12 May 2022
Best-selling author and APB speaker Wil Haygood’s biography of Sammy Davis, Jr. will be turned into a limited television series on Hulu. Eight episodes have been ordered by the network based on the book In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr. Elijah Kelley is set to play the lead role. Filmmaker Lee Daniels will write the series with frequent collaborator Thomas Westfall. Daniels and Haygood will produce.
Davis rose from childhood stardom on the vaudeville stage to become one of the most famous African American entertainers of the 1950s and ’60s (and the only Black member of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack). At the same time, he spent most of his career surrounded by controversy and ridicule–over his affairs with white film stars, his 1960 marriage to Swedish actress May Britt, his conversion to Judaism, his closeness to the Kennedys (and later Richard Nixon) and his problems with alcohol and drugs.
Best known as the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Butler and Showdown, Haygood has chronicled America’s civil rights journey through acclaimed biographies. In addition to Davis, he has chronicled the lives of Thurgood Marshall, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Sugar Ray Robinson and Eugene Allen, the real-life inspiration for Lee Daniels’ award-winning film, The Butler.
Haygood’s talent for looking at events from multiple points of view comes from his background as a journalist. For 30 years, he was a national and foreign correspondent for The Washington Post and The Boston Globe, covering events such as Nelson Mandela’s release from prison after 27 years, the ascent of President Obama, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and his own experience as the hostage of Somali rebels. While at the Globe, he was honored as a Pulitzer Prize finalist for feature writing.
Haygood’s latest book, Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World, considered one of the Best Books of 2021 by NPR, gives an unprecedented history of Black cinema and a groundbreaking perspective on racism in modern America. Haygood uses the struggles and triumphs of the artists, and the films themselves, as a prism through which to explore Black culture and the civil rights movement.