From a bad guy on screen to a Frank Sinatra crooner, Robert Davi performs this weekend at the Orleans in Las Vegas, opening for comedian Don Rickles.
Davi’s break came in 1977, when he shared the screen with star Frank Sinatra in the TV movie “Contract on Cherry Street.”
He later starred as the villain “Frank Sanchez” in 1989’s James Bond film “Licensed to Kill” opposite Timothy Dalton and as the criminal son, “Jake,” of Mama Fratelli in 1985’s “The Goonies.” In “The Goonies,” Davi sang Italian operatic songs to a frightened boy kidnapped by the criminal family.
“People that knew me from film, like in ‘The Goonies,’ where I sang opera, they knew I had a voice,” Davi said. “The real diehard fans know that I studied opera as a young guy and won awards and all that, but what’s happening now is, now they’re hearing this and it’s getting quite the response.”
Davi’s film and TV appearances are many, but despite that, he said he considers himself a singer first. He likens his career as a crooner to that of Sinatra, who supported Rickles brand of insult comedy and helped him get a headlining act on the Las Vegas Strip.
“It’s kind of an event in a way, just if I may be humble,” Davi said of his and Rickles’ connection to Sinatra. “There are no singers out there with my film background. And there are no singers out there that had Sinatra’s film background. There was a certain edge that Sinatra had, along with that poetry. A sense of danger and a sense of poetry.
“So you’ve got Don Rickles that absolutely has a sense of edge. They call him the ‘Merchant of Venom,’ and now you have me coming on there, like another heavyweight fighter. What I want to do is, I want to give the audience a thrilling evening, in terms of the music, and that they come out of that, and they haven’t had a night like that for 30 years. That’s what I want them to feel like.”
Davi said the show will hearken back to the days of classic Vegas entertainment, but with a current day edge and relevancy.
“Rickles is still relevant in terms of all the great comedians are responding to him, and all the people like Quincy Jones, the music people, are responding to what I’m doing,” Davi said. “Not a Rat Pack wannabe group, but an actual taste of what that was.”