Sammy Davis Jr.: The Writer Who Saved His Estate

Sammy Davis Jr.: The Writer Who Saved His Estate.
In Sammy Davis Jr.: The Writer Who Saved His Estate, Pamela Sherrod, a Christian author, screenwriter, and producer, shares the story of how she unintentionally stumbled into the center of one of Hollywood’s longest and most vicious legal battles and played a vital role in the historic outcome of the Sammy Davis Jr. Estate.
When Sammy Davis Jr. died in 1990, after losing his fight with throat cancer, another war soon erupted, one which threatened to dismantle his legacy and the future of his estate. The $5 million debt that he’d left his widow, Altovise, represented just one chapter in a tumultuous story that was filled with unfathomable glamour, multiple scandals and the treachery that accompanied the greed of their associates.
In 2005, when Sherrod partnered with Altovise Davis to create inspirational and educational family films, she was introduced to the dark side of the entertainment industry. Sammy’s embattled estate teetered between the control of his wife – whose life was wracked by alcoholism – and the two men who were determined to seize it. The tragedies that followed would challenge, not only Sherrod’s faith in God, but the very essence of the work that she’d begun.
In this eye-witness account, Sherrod presents stunning revelations and testimonies about the famous couple’s life – including friends such as Bill Cosby and Elizabeth Taylor – as she documents, not only the final outcome of the Davis estate, but the tragic and triumphant events that preceded it.
“It’s more than just a story about Hollywood, the betrayal of friends, the theft of screenplays, the abandonment of allies and other horrific things that take place there,” says Sherrod.  “It’s Sammy and Altovise’s story, but it’s also my story as a Christian writer. I was pulled into the Sammy Davis Jr. saga, although it wasn’t my intention, and (for better or worse) it made a lasting impression on my life. In many ways, I’m ‘the last little Indian,’ trying to finish the work that Sammy urged Altovise to do, and the work that I’d committed myself to do.”


In 1970, Sammy was married again, this time to Altovise Gore, and the couple would become Hollywood’s version of Bonnie and Clyde. They were notorious for hosting numerous gatherings where the phrase, ‘anything goes,’ could have easily been coined. Their sprawling Beverly Hills home was the scene of parties that catered to aficionados of heavy drinking, experimental sex – especially wife swapping and orgies – and the flagrant use of drugs.
Although, Altovise, herself, was a professional dancer, and had performed with Sammy on various stages, somewhere along the way, she’d lost a strong sense of herself. Living with Sammy could be overwhelming; for a man with a small physique, his persona would cast a huge shadow.
Following their marriage, Altovise continued to appear in Sammy’s shows, at least, until the period when entertainer, Katherine McKee, replaced her, both, under the stage lights of Sammy’s productions and under the silk sheets of his bed. Altovise and Sammy’s ‘open marriage’ allowed Katherine to assume the role of Sammy’s ‘road wife,’ but it would also contribute to Altovise’s long and painful battle with alcohol. Despite the complicated, and sometimes degrading nature of their union, she would always call Sammy her hero. After all, he was like an open wallet.
During the height of his career, Sammy, literally, made millions each year, but, unfortunately, made an art of spending considerably more. Back during his heyday – when the money was good and the loans were quick – he got away with it. After all, there was always another show to cover his debts.
Sammy, who had extravagant tastes, shared his indulgent lifestyle with Altovise, who, like her husband, shopped with almost reckless abandon. From luxurious furs and exquisite jewels, to a fleet of customized and exotic cars, Sammy tried to quench their every desire.
The years of hard living and reckless spending would eventually catch up to the star. His business and investment ventures were plagued with mismanagement. A troubling pattern existed in which Sammy had been underpaid by various recording studios, and he’d signed contracts which offered less than favorable terms. There were even instances in which he’d failed to secure the master recordings of his own songs.
Having lived far beyond his means, when Sammy died of throat cancer in 1990, he left to his wife an estate that was embroiled in a huge legal and financial crisis. With over $5 million owed to the IRS, alone, Altovise faced a tax lien that, at the time, was the highest in the country. The glamorous and privileged life she’d known for twenty years was now over.
Altovise was ill-prepared to accept the sobering realities of her new life, especially when the IRS seized the Davis estate, selling their twenty-two room mansion and auctioning their most precious possessions. She was equally unprepared for the cold rejection of some of their oldest friends, especially Bill Cosby, who’d been one of Sammy’s closest buddies.
After all, when Sammy was battling cancer, he made one of his last T.V. appearances on The Cosby Show, and on the day of Sammy’s funeral, Cosby was an honorary pallbearer. To memorialize him, Bill wore Sammy’s initials on his clothing during the following season of his show. It was the type of moving, Cosby-like gesture for which he was so famous.
However, while Bill donned Sammy’s initials in public, behind the scenes, he had a very different attitude. Altovise later confided in me that she’d been desperate for help, but when she’d reached out to Bill, she’d been shocked by his indifference. “He never helped me,” she said, her voice still filled with pain. A friend had also called Bill on her behalf, but she claimed that he’d never even called back.
In the following seasons, Altovise would quietly disappear from the public, and her whereabouts would be a mystery for many years, at least, up until 2004, when she first resurfaced in Sarasota, Florida. A cloud of questions still remained, though, regarding the years when she was seemingly ‘missing,’ and the final outcome of the Davis estate.
A few months later, in 2005, a friend would introduce me to Altovise, to help write her autobiography. I welcomed the new assignment with the intention of, first, learning all I could about her amazing life. In my efforts to understand Altovise’s struggle – the pressures of her marriage and the magnitude of her debt – I began to research Sammy’s career and their unconventional marriage.
I was struck by the cruel dichotomy in Altovise’s life. I was lunching with a woman who’d entertained some of the world’s most famous celebrities. She’d once lived in a sprawling Beverly Hills mansion, where, parked out front, was a Rolls-Royce bearing her name on its plate. That day, however, she would return to a cramped little apartment down the street from my community and actually need a ride to get home.
Altovise and I found that we shared a passion for creating children’s stories, an interest which began to consume most of our conversations. We became increasingly drawn to the idea of collaborating on stories that might impact the lives of teens, especially future artists. This was ideal, because Altovise wasn’t ready to discuss the sensitive nature of her marriage, which was controversial, to say the least. Nor, was she forthcoming about the last ‘missing’ years of her life. In fact, a frightening new problem was developing, and she couldn’t speak about this, either.
I paused the work that I’d begun on Altovise’s autobiography, because her life was far more complex than it had first appeared. She was struggling with a great deal more than just a mountain of debt and a Smirnoff bottle, stashed inside her Louis Vuitton. Behind her radiant smile was a woman facing, still another crisis.
Altovise wasn’t exactly homeless when she was later evicted from her Sarasota apartment, but her tenuous situation become something close to perilous.
To make bad matters worse, rumor had it that two men were stealing her belonging, raiding her bank accounts and sponging off what was left of Sammy’s estate. For some reason, Altovise believed that she’d found herself a hero in one of the men. When they entered a business partnership – though it was heavily tilted in their favor – she’d believed that her rags-to-riches-to-rags ordeal was over. Unfortunately, when Altovise signed over the control of Sammy’s estate, she unwittingly opened up Pandora’s Box.
Being a quiet and soft-spoken writer, I never wanted to be pulled into a messing legal battle, especially since Altovise, initially, wanted to keep this part of her life private. So, even when their arrangement went sour, I managed to refrain from getting involved, that is, until February 2007, on the unforgettable evening of the Academy Awards.


Pamela SherrodAbout the Author:
Pamela Sherrod is a Christian author, screenwriter, and producer. She graduated from Howard University with a B.A. in Journalism.
As a screenwriter, Pamela partnered with the late Altovise Davis, and formed RisingStar31 Productions to write and produce entertaining and educational films.  In 2015, Pamela launched plans to produce her first musical film, A Detour to Mexico.
As a writer, Pamela has published several books, including The Last Chapter in the Life of Mrs. Sammy Davis, Jr and Sammy Davis Jr.: The Writer Who Saved His Estate.
Pamela currently lives in Sarasota, Florida, where she’s raising her daughter. Readers can connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads. To learn more, go to:
For further information, to request a review copy, or to set up an interview or appearance by Pamela Sherrod, please contact Kelsey McBride at Book Publicity Services at or 805.807.9027.


Code Name: Papa – My Extraordinary Life While Hiding in Plain Sight

Code Name Papa Book Cover
After a lifetime of working for a secret international group, John Murray finally reveals his journey with the help of his wife, Sharon, and co-writer Abby. His memoir, Code Name: Papa – My Extraordinary Life While Hiding in Plain Sight, details his time within an organization that, while not connected to the US government, operated with the full blessing of top people in our government.
“With this book, I hope to educate the public and open up the conversation about what our country and others have really done on dangerous secret missions to help the world,” says John Murray (Papa), who deftly tells his fascinating and memorable life story, laying out facts but leaving it to readers to determine how they feel about each mission.
The highlighted missions include the deaths of eight counter covert operators in a major Las Vegas hotel conference room during a mission that has “stayed in Vegas” until now; a European mission to save sex slaves from major drug dealers; a successful all-out effort to save a small European country from takeover, and much more.
These are real stories, gritty and true—not the fantasy world of James Bond, Scandal, and others.


Who’d have thought a bright, but fairly ordinary young man from middle class America who got just above average grades, dated the same girl throughout high school and went to church most Sundays, would grow up to eventually head a very secretive band of brave individuals–both men and women–who regularly put their lives on the line because they wanted to protect the rest of you. Yet that’s what we did, often sacrificing our personal lives (four marriages for me, all in the book) and our health (countless broken bones, major surgeries, even death) to do it.
Meanwhile you’re just going to have to call me “Papa” like everyone else around the globe has through most of those wildly unpredictable and dangerous years.


 “I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in what really happens to bad people who threaten the safety and well being of our world. It was a page turner that I could hardly put down.”S. King
“I typically do not take the time to write reviews. However, this book was so incredibly riveting that I felt compelled to let other Amazon members know that it’s an honest-to-goodness page turner. I can’t wait to see what happens next…hopefully a sequel and movie!”Max’s Mom
“The story is riveting, once you start reading you won’t want to put it down! Learning about these undercover missions involving the cooperation of several nations is mind boggling.”L. Lynch


About the Authors:
For the sake of their own safety and that of their loved ones, the writers have chosen to move forward in revealing this story under aliases.
John Murray:
A Vietnam vet, John Murray, later known as “Papa,” has spent the majority of his adult life working as an undercover agent for the U.S., Canadian and various European governments. During this time, he rose from agent to the head of US Operations.
John was raised in the South by his grandfather who taught him at an early age how to survive by hunting and fishing, which all served him well for his future. He firmly believes that if he had not had the guidance of his grandfather and others who influenced his life that he never would have survived the ordeals that he did.
John, who enjoyed a very average American childhood, always wanted to be a ‘normal’ husband and father, but you’ll eventually understand why that was impossible.
Papa and his crews bore the responsibility of taking care of much of the world’s evil – evil that could never have come to the public’s attention.
Now retired, he and his wife are living in a small rural Western town. As ‘normal’ as he tries to live, he will always be haunted by the visions of what he saw and what he tried to prevent or rectify.
Sharon Murray:
Sharon is a retired business executive who has lived in many parts of the US and in Asia.  Happily married to John for over five years, she had no idea about his work until she experienced his nightmares about the past.
After discussions about how she might help John, he asked Sharon to help him write his memoirs just as something to leave behind, unpublished. After several years of working on them, Sharon convinced John it was a story worth telling to the world.  Working on this project has helped John start to face some of the things he experienced while trying to be a good guy in a world gone awry.
Abby Jones:
This is Jones’ fifth book.  She also writes for numerous magazines.  The original manuscript was handed off to Abby, a friend of Sharon, who has a reputation for her easy, conversational writing style.
Abby worked with John and Sharon for approximately eighteen months to make sure John’s voice was never lost in the rewrites.  She notes that both John and Sharon were wonderful to collaborate with via phone, computer and text.  By the way, she has never met John!
Abby currently lives on the West Coast. She has traveled extensively and lived in many other parts of the US as well as in Europe.
Code Name: Papa—My Extraordinary Life while Hiding in Plain Sight is the first in a planned trilogy. John, Sharon, and Abby are currently working on the second book, about Papa’s mentor, Amy.
To learn more, go to: | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon
For further information, to request a review copy, or to set up an interview with John Murray, please contact Kelsey McBride at Book Publicity Services at or 805.807.9027.

Christopher Mannino’s Epic Fantasy Novel ‘School of Deaths’ is Now Available in Audiobook

School of Deaths Book CoverJanuary 26, 2016 (Greenbelt, MD) – Author Christopher Mannino announced today that School of Deaths, the first installment of his Young Adult trilogy, is now available for purchase in audio format from the popular audiobook site, Audible. Sword of Deaths, the second book in the trilogy, is expected to be released in audio format next month. The books are narrated by acclaimed audiobook narrator Joel Froomkin.
“I’m really pleased with how well The Scythe Wielder’s Secret series has been doing,” says Maninno, “I know a lot of people are interested in audiobooks for long trips or even their daily commute, but the selection can be on the skimpy side. I’m happy I can contribute School of Deaths as a fresh option.”
School of Deaths has been ranked as an Amazon bestseller in Epic Fantasy, and reviewers have compared the series to Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Percy Jackson.
Thrust into a world of men, can a timid girl find bravery as the first female Death? 
Thirteen-year-old Suzie Sarnio always believed the Grim Reaper was a fairy tale image of a skeleton with a scythe. Now, forced to enter the College of Deaths, she finds herself training to bring souls from the Living World to the Hereafter. The task is demanding enough, but as the only female in the all-male College, she quickly becomes a target. Attacked by both classmates and strangers, Suzie is alone in a world where even her teachers want her to fail.
As her year progresses, Suzie suspects her presence isn’t an accident. She uncovers a plot to overthrow the World of Deaths. Now she must also discover the reason she’s been brought there: the first female Death in a million years.
“If you like Harry Potter, you’ll love this!” – Sasha Alsberg, A Book Utopia
“Not just a book for young adults, but an imaginative read for everyone who likes something a little bit different. 5 Stars!”Reader’s Favorite
Christopher Mannino’s life is best described as an unending creative outlet. He teaches high school theatre in Greenbelt, MD. In addition to his daily drama classes, he runs several after-school performance and production drama groups. Mannino holds a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Catholic University, and has studied mythology and literature both in America and at Oxford University. His work with young people helped inspire him to write young adult fantasy, although it was his love of reading that truly brought his writing to life. To learn more, go to
For further information, to request a review copy, or to set up an interview or appearance by Christopher Mannino, please contact Kelsey McBride at Book Publicity Services at or 805.807.9027.

A Guide to Finding a Publisher for First Time Authors

laptop, writingSo you’ve finished your novel. It’s finalized, ready to go, and you know it’s going to be a hit. What do you do next? This is a simple 4 step guide for those who want to try to find a publisher without going through an agent.
1. Scope Out Publishers 
It sounds like an easy enough step, but how do you go about it? You might have seen suggestions to check out your local bookstore and jot down the publishers of books in your genre. But there are easier ways. More likely than not, you’ll find that a lot of those publishing houses do not take unsolicited submissions.
So where do you turn? Your best sources are yearly updated writer’s market books, such as Writer’s Market by Robert Lee Brewer, or Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market by Alice Pope. These contain information on almost every publishing house you could want, as well as agents and literary contests. Flip through these and find publishers who are accepting unsolicited submissions in your genre. It is also a good idea to then check out their websites for their most up-to-date information, such as whether they are currently open for submissions.
The internet is actually a more useful resource than a lot of other guides let on. There are quite a few lists of independent publishers out there and many of these lists are generated by other writers or collaborations of writers who have been through the same process. However, it should only be used as a secondary resource as these are not always official or licensed lists. Here are some lists of publishers from Book Market, IPG Book, and Flavor Wire to get you started.
Another option to consider would be genre-specific publishers. For example, Harlequin and Crimson Romance specifically publish romance novels while Down and Out or Mulholland Books are geared towards mystery and crime books.  This could be ideal in the sense that each publishing house has experience promoting your book’s genre and most likely already has a following.  Some of their customers would be inclined to buy your work simply because it was published by a company that has published other books that they enjoyed. One thing to be mindful of is that publishing through a genre-specific company would commit you to that one genre. For example, Harlequin may love your romance novel, but wouldn’t be interested in a new family drama you were working on.
There are pros and cons to each of these routes to publication, but you know yourself and your book best so be sure to weigh your options before committing to one.
2. Follow the Submission Guidelines
There is no better way to make a good first impression then to follow the publisher’s guidelines to the letter. There is also no better way to make a bad first impression then to disregard the guidelines. You will find that there is an astonishing amount of variability in what different houses look for in a submission package, so you’ll need to be flexible.
Some houses may want your full manuscript, some the first few chapters, and others may want a sampling from various chapters. Some accept electronic submissions while others do not. Some want a one page summary and others want a ten page summary. You get the idea.
It is a good idea to have certain generic pieces of your proposal prepared. For example, have a basic cover letter ready that allows for variability depending on what the publisher is looking for. Prepare a summary of your novel that is a couple of pages long that you can lengthen or shorten as need be.
Once you have put together a submission package that has all of the necessary parts, it’s time for the next step.
3. Send It Out and Wait
Most publishers will provide information on the length of their turnaround time, but it is important to know that it could easily take longer (or shorter, if you are lucky!). Be patient. If it takes a lot longer than they said it would, then it is okay to send a short message asking if your submission has been received.
Most houses are very good about not leaving you hanging and letting you know if you have been rejected. Once in a while, however, you might get no reply at all. In that case, see it as a rejection and move on.
If you happen to get accepted, then congratulations and best of luck! If not, then move on to the final step.
4. Deal with Rejections and Feedback
The number one thing to do when you get a rejection is to remember not to write back telling the publisher that they have made a mistake. This may sound silly to you, but people do it. Simply accept it, and move on. Unless you are one of the luckiest people to ever try to publish a book, chances are you will face rejection before acceptance. If you really believe that your manuscript can make it, then keep trying.
There is, however, the possibility that your book is not as great as you thought it was. You have to be willing to be critical and honest with yourself. Maybe you don’t need to give up on the whole thing, but it might need some editing or a re-write. Sometimes it takes a second pair of eyes to catch something you missed when you were so close to the project. It’s up to you to decide.
Once in a while a publisher, even if they reject you, may also send along feedback and pointers. This is a good thing and you should take it as a learning opportunity. The fact that even though they rejected you, they took the time to make constructive comments lets you know that they think you and your manuscript were worth their time. They might even ask you to resubmit after making the corrections.
Really take their suggestions to heart. Chances are that advice coming from someone in the publishing world will only improve your manuscript and increase your chances with other houses, as they typically look for similar things.
Of course it is always up to you to decide what advice to implement in your writing. You may receive contradicting advice from two different publishers! Ultimately, it is left to your discretion. Just remember to use every bit of feedback and every rejection as an opportunity to grow.