Altovise Davis, the widow of Rat Pack singer and dancer Sammy Davis Jr., died Saturday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center of complications from a stroke, her business partner, Barrett LaRoda, said. She was 65.
Davis was surrounded at the Los Angeles hospital by friends and family, including her son, Manny Davis.
Trained as an actor and dancer, Altovise Davis met the legendary showman in the mid-1960s, when they were both appearing in Broadway musicals, he in the lead of Golden Boy" and she in the chorus line of High Spirits."
She successfully auditioned for a London stage production of Golden Boy," and after its run she joined his nightclub act as a dancer.
They married at a Philadelphia courthouse in May 1970 and were together 20 years, adopting their son in 1989. Her husband died of throat cancer at age 64 on May 16, 1990, five days after their 20th wedding anniversary.
Altovise Davis had a difficult time after her husband's death. He owed a reported $7 million in income tax, and to satisfy the Internal Revenue Service, his mansion on Summit Drive in Beverly Hills was sold. Jewelry, memorabilia and other personal items were auctioned.
She struggled with alcoholism, moved to Pennsylvania and went through an alcohol treatment program, she told Essence magazine in 2004.
Once the tax liability was settled in 1997, Davis set about restoring her husband's legacy. She helped organize a musical touring show called Mr. Bojangles: The Ultimate Entertainer" in 2006.