*The romance between Sammy Davis Jr. and Kim Novak is the focus of a budding feature film called “Scandalous!,” and their relationship’s interracial nature is the least of what inspired the title.
Janet Mock will direct, and Jonathan Glickman, producer of the upcoming Aretha Franklin film “Respect,” will produce along with Jon Levin. Actor Jeremy Pope, an Emmy nominee for “Pose,” will play Davis Jr. According to Deadline’s Mike Fleming, Jr., Glickman has an MGM deal and Mock one at Netflix, but they are shopping this one wide and the plan is to shoot this fall in Los Angeles.”
The Davis/Novak romance is rumored to have started more strategically than naturally. Davis had been the victim of brutal racism from the days he got his nose flattened in the army from constant fights with other soldiers and was not allowed to stay in the Vegas hotels where he performed, until friend Frank Sinatra interceded. He would later tell a biographer he wanted to show them all by dating Hollywood’s most desirable white woman.
Meanwhile, Novak, the rising star of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo,” was being exploited by Columbia Pictures head Harry Cohn in loan-out deals to other studios that paid him a nice coin while she made pennies starring in movies. Dating Davis was a way to establish her independence. But mostly, the stars honestly fell in love.
Novak talks about her love for Davis below:
Davis paid a price for their love affair. He was maligned by civil rights leaders for dating outside his race, and an alleged mob hit ordered by Cohn forced Davis to marry black singer Loray White to calm everybody down, effectively ending their romance. They wouldn’t see each other again until the Oscars in 1979, where they danced at the Governor’s Ball, and again when she visited Davis on his death bed in 1990.