Singer and performer Sammy Davis Jr. famously embraced RN at a youth rally at Marine Memorial Stadium. The structure, located in Key Biscayne, largely neglected by city officials, is at the center of a preservation effort.

The Associated Press is reporting that the World Monument’s Fund is working to save the dilapidated 6,566 seat Miami Marine Stadium (shut down since 1992 after Hurricane Andrew) in Key Biscayne, Florida because of “its historical and architectural significance:”

The marine stadium is unique because of its cantilevered, fold-plate roof and its construction of lightweight, poured-in-place concrete, which was popular in mid-century European and Latin American sports stadiums. The modernist design appears to float over the glimmering water of Biscyane Bay; when bands used to perform there, they would play atop a floating stage. Boats clustered in the water and fans packed the stands.

It’s also the first structure in Miami built by a Cuban exile architect.

“It’s quintessentially Miami,” said Becky Roper Matkov, the CEO of Dade Heritage Trust, a local historic preservation group. “With the water and the sky and how it’s open to the air.”

Jorge Hernandez is a Miami architect and, along with Candela, is the co-founder of Friends of Marine Stadium, a group dedicated to bringing the venue back to its rockin’ heyday.

Hernandez, who saw a Boston Pops concert, a Fourth of July celebration and attended an Easter sunrise celebration at the stadium as a child, said that even though the structure is relatively new, it needs to be saved because of it’s importance in the modern architecture milieu.

“We’re just starting to understand the importance of preserving our recent modern past,” he said.

Miami Marine Stadium was also the site of a youth rally at the 1972 Republican convention, where singer and performer Sammy Davis Jr. famously hugged President Nixon. RN in his own words on the memorable moment:

I flew to Miami on Tuesday afternoon, August 22. That night I made an unscheduled appearance at the open-air youth rally, and the reception I received overwhelmed me. Pam Powell, the daughter of Dick Powell and June Allyson, escorted me onto the stage. Hands above their heads, four fingers outstretched, the thousands of young people took up a chant that I was hearing for the first time: “Four more years! Four more years! It was deafening. It was music. This was a new king of Republican youth: they weren’t square, but they weren’t ashamed of being positive and proud.

The picture that is probably most remembered from the 1972 convention is of Sammy Davis Jr., impulsively hugging me on the stage at the youth rally. When the crowd finally quieted down, I described my first meeting with him at the White House reception a few weeks earlier. We had both talked about our backgrounds and about how we both came from rather poor families. “I know Sammy is a member of the other party,’ I said. “I didn’t know when I talked to him what he would be doing in this election campaign. But I do know this. I want to make this pledge to Sammy, I want to make it to everybody here, whether you happen to be black or white, or young or old, and all of those who are listening. I believe in the American dream. Sammy Davis believed in it. We believe in it because we have seen it come true in our own lives.” For me – and, I think for many others – the youth rally was the highlight of the convention.

According to RN, Sammy Davis, Jr. was invited back to White House in March 1973 for an evening concert, where he suggested that RN hold “a gala entertainment honoring the POWs.”

On May 24 of the same year more than 1,000 POWs and their wives were invited to the White House for a formal dinner and afterward delighted in entertainment from Bob Hope , John Wayne, and other “famous pop and country singers, comedians, and motion picture personalities.” Sammy Davis Jr., was given a “place of honor” at the end of program:

He sang and danced and, with tears in his eyes, had special praise for the women whose prayers had “brought you cats home.”


Sammy Davis, Jr pictured in the Yellow Oval Room with RN in March 1973.