But, in 1957, she fell in love with Sammy Davis Jr., who, with his immense popularity, was breaking the race barrier of a firmly segregated entertainment industry.Sam Kashner chronicles the backlash against their affair, the alleged Mob hit ordered by Cohn which forced Davis to marry black singer Loray White, and the heartbreaking coda to the romance that Hollywood forbade.threatened to become a national scandal on the eve of America’s long struggle for civil rights.It started in 1957 at Chicago’s most famous nightclub, Chez Paree.The man known as “the greatest entertainer in the world” was onstage, the smoke from his cigarette trellising the air.You had to see him: the gorgeous shirt, the cuff links, the way everything billowed.He was in the dark and suddenly the spotlight picked him up—he was electric, he was hot, it was almost a sexual thing.
It was said that Harry Cohn put more people in the cemetery than all the other moguls combined.
He ran Columbia Pictures as if it were a family business, and in a way it was, because he had wrangled control from his brother Jack, who was back on the East Coast in New York.
By the mid-1930s, Cohn had nurtured Columbia from a low-rent, B-movie studio on Hollywood’s “Poverty Row,” a block off Sunset, into a major Hollywood film studio.
Cohn wanted to be known as the toughest, meanest mogul in Hollywood.
He brandished a riding crop and slashed it across his desk to terrify employees.
He kept a framed photograph of his hero, Benito Mussolini, on his massive desk and had his office decorated to look like Il Duce’s.