Robert Davi got his professional start opposite Frank Sinatra, who's about to be saluted by Davi on Independence Day.
Known for tough-guy roles, the actor-singer, who was James Bond's enemy Sanchez in "Licence to Kill" and FBI man Bailey Malone on the NBC series "Profiler," has opened a new chapter of his career by rendering the iconic Chairman of the Board's music on record and in concert.
Davi -- who was born in Queens and raised in Dix Hills -- will do so again in this 100th-anniversary year of Sinatra's birth as a cast member of PBS' annual holiday-concert special, "A Capitol Fourth." That show marks its own 35th anniversary Saturday(8 p.m. on WNET/13, 9:40 p.m. on WLIW/21).
Trained as an opera singer in his youth, Davi says he feels privileged to perform "on the 100th anniversary of who I think is the greatest entertainer of all time, at a Fourth of July celebration in a country that he loved and his parents loved. And my parents loved."
Sinatra was the star of Davi's first movie, "Contract on Cherry Street," in 1977 on NBC, and Davi felt from the beginning they had much in common -- their Italian-American heritage, their careers and their social concerns.
Both Davi's father and his father's father were veterans, and he recalls that "every Fourth of July, every Memorial Day and every Veterans Day," his naval-officer dad "raised the American flag and put on his Navy uniform. That was what I grew up to, that image of the importance and the love of our country, so to be able to pay tribute to a guy who was so important to entertainment and the Italian-American community on the Fourth of July is very meaningful."
After appearing in such other movies as "The Goonies" and "Die Hard," Davi, a Hofstra graduate, is part of a "Capitol Fourth" talent roster for which executive producer Jerry Colbert also has booked returnee Barry Manilow (who's sure to perform his patriotic anthem "Let Freedom Ring"), Alabama, Hunter Hayes, Nicole Scherzinger, Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, classical pianist Lang Lang and pop-music veterans KC and the Sunshine Band.
Jack Everly will conduct the National Symphony Orchestra in the program on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Bradley Whitford ("The West Wing," "Happyish") hosts the festivities.
The impact of the 2011 album "Davi Sings Sinatra -- On the Road to Romance" also has been seen as Davi tours across America and overseas to Italy, where he recently was on the Italian version of "The Voice." He's also performed in Sweden, Hungary and Australia.
Still, Davi says, "The July Fourth event will be the biggest platform for me. The producer had seen me at (Connecticut's) Foxwoods Casino, then came backstage and invited me to be on the show. I'm very thrilled. I really am."