Davis Funeral Expected to Draw 6,000 Fans
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) _ The family of Sammy Davis Jr. has shared him with his fans for more than 60 years and the day of his funeral will be no different.
The late entertainer’s final tribute Friday will come at a memorial service that is open to the public, and more than 6,000 Davis fans are expected to fill the 1,200-seat Hall of Liberty at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson will speak at the service. A local television station will broadcast it live. The names of pallbearers and other speakers was still being drawn up Thursday afternoon, but it included Gregory Hines, who co-starred with Davis in the film ″Tap,″ and Willie Brown, speaker of the state assembly.
Other celebrity guests expected are Frank Sinatra, Davis’ longtime friend, and Michael Jackson.
Davis, who died of throat cancer Wednesday at the age of 64, will be buried after the Hollywood Hills service at nearby Forest Lawn in Glendale. The graveside service also will be public.
His pallbearers at the non-denominational service will be members of his staff and band. They are Dino Meminger, lighting director; Jolly Brown, stage manager; Fip Ricard, trumpet; Frank Accardo, guitar; Clayton Cameron, drummer; James Leary, bass; Morty Stevens, conductor; and John Climaco, attorney.
Meanwhile, at Davis’ star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, fans wrote farewell messages on a roll of paper that stretched halfway down the block on Hollywood Boulevard. ″We’ll miss you Sammy,″ ″So long Candyman″ and ″Sammy, you will live forever in our hearts″ were among the messages left.
The scroll of paper was purchased for $35 by Lou Salinas, who owns a nearby tattoo business.
Forest Lawn said it was bracing for a crowd of over 6,000, but a spokeswoman added that she didn’t know how the overflow guests would be accommodated.
Select guests were sent special VIP passes Thursday guaranteeing them seats inside the auditorium.
Funerals and memorials of the famous in this town tend to be quite private. A tribute to Bette Davis earlier this year was limited to several hundred invited guests. When Lucille Ball was buried last year, the public was informed only after the small service was complete.
Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Natalie Wood, Fred Astaire and Cary Grant also were memorialized in private services.
When celebrities have been honored publicly, they have often drawn overflow crowds. Among the more popular services in recent years have been those for Freddie Prinze, Marvin Gaye and Ricky Nelson. At a public service for Tyrone Power, admirers rushed into the chapel following the ceremony and stripped the casket of its flowers.
In lieu of flowers, Davis’ family has suggested that donations be made to the Sammy Davis Jr. National Liver Institute at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.