The staging of the hug

Reader Jud Walker adds his own eyewitness testimony to my post “What made Sammy run?” Walker writes:

I enjoyed reading your note about Sammy Davis, Jr. I was standing about 20 feet from [Davis and Nixon] when “The Hug” occurred. I was a grad student/volunteer stagehand at the concert at the Miami Marine Stadium (unused since Hurricane Andrew) for the Young Voters for the President (all those screaming college kids imported into Miami for the convention) and set up the microphone for President Nixon to speak briefly to the crowd.
Sammy’s dressing room was a yacht tied up to the backside of the floating stage; he was so drunk at performance time he had to be helped over the rail at the back of the floating bandshell structure and practically carried to the point of his stage entrance. Then he turned into the fantastic entertainer America loved. He was singing with the Mike Curb Congregation (yes, that Mike Curb of MGM Records and California politics).
We were coordinating everything with the Secret Service for Nixon’s arrival, and when the time came I had to remove Mike’s microphone and place it center stage for Nixon’s brief speech. As he came onto the stage the crowd was in a frenzy, there was tremendous excitement and Sammy just hugged him. I believe TIME magazine had a full 2 page photo of the concert but I was just outside of the photo. That was a long time ago and I may have gotten a few of the details slightly incorrect but it was an exciting moment for all who were there.


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