When I was young, Sammy Davis Jr. was a guy who appeared on all the variety shows and of whom other entertainers all did impressions. (See, for example, Jim Carrey’s routine from his younger, stand-up days.)
So I was pleased to discover this old clip of Sammy Davis Jr. doing impressions of a number of notable singers.
The thing about an impression, though, is that it works only if the audience recognizes the person being imitated. I suspect that fewer and fewer people know the men whose styles Sammy is mimicking. I consider myself a fan of swing and of lounge, and I didn’t know a few of them myself.
So in the interest of cultural education (and to make it easy for you, Gentle Reader), here are links to videos of the singers Sammy references:
Nat “King” Cole
Mel Tormé (his nickname was “The Velvet Fog” by the way)
Dean Martin (also see this clip, which is rather less polished)
Jerry Lewis (“beans beans beans beans beans” … suspiciously similar to “spam spam spam spam spam”)
It’s interesting that one singer Sammy doesn’t take on is Frank Sinatra, who made “One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)” one of his classics. I’ll guess that Frank was not the kind of man who enjoyed impressions of himself. Here’s Frank’s version.