What Happened to Sammy Davis Jr. Eye? His Accident

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Sammy Davis Jr.
Sammy Davis Jr. (Credits - Turner Classic Movies)

Samuel George Davis Jr, also known as Sammy, was born in Harlem, New York, USA, on December 8, 1925. Sammy Davis Jr was an entertainer just like his father, Sammy Davis Sr. Sammy often went on tours with his father, where he learned how to dance and entertain people. Although Sammy belonged to a family that already had some famous names, he was never prejudiced and always maintained a casual and kind nature.

Sammy belonged to a family of artists. Thus, it was no surprise when he took to the stage and delivered a satisfactory performance seeing the actor play his roles. It’s always a joy and pleasure, and the audience always had a soft spot for him. Having all the love, fame, and money never changed Sammy, and he always remained calm and down-to-earth.

Sammy Davis Jr with his daughter Tracey
Sammy Davis Jr with his daughter Tracey (Credits – Getty Images)

Sammy has achieved a lot of things in his life, and his career is an interesting one. He never stuck to one thing and tried working in many fields achieving great heights in all. Although Sammy was a lot of things, he was an actor and delivered many great movies. Some of his major hits include Alice In Wonderland, Robin and Pepper, and The Cannonball Run series.

Let us dive deeper into Sammy’s life and talk about the accident that caused him to lose his left eye.

Sammy Davis Jr’s life story:

As we mentioned before, Sammy has had an interesting life where he tried many things to achieve a lot of success and maintained a well-respected place in the public eye. But where did it all start? How did he become the Sammy we know today?

Sammy’s time in the Army:

During World War 2, Sammy joined the Army. At this time, he was only 18 years old. Sammy faced some racism in the Army, but he always noticed that people often praised him for his performances. Everyone, including the white prejudiced guys, respected Sammy and his performance which made him want to perform more and better. 

Sammy Davis Jr
Sammy Davis Jr (Credits – PBS)

Sammy later joined the Army’s special services branch, where he performed various performances for the troops. Delivering an amazing performance every time, everyone was happy with Sammy, and he fell more and more in love with art and performance each time he got praised or heard the audience clapping for him. Performing became a drug to Sammy, and he devoted effort to making his perfromances better and more entertaining.

During his time in the Army, Davis earned the American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. Finally, in 1945 he was released from the Army with the rank of private. Davis survived the hard and cruel life he faced there, and later he said, “My talent was the weapon, the power, the way for me to fight. It was the one way I might hope to affect a man’s thinking.”

Sammy’s Carrer:

After being released from the Army, Sammy became a full-time performer. He went to different cities performing in front of different audiences, winning all the tarts. Sammy’s whole linked after his performance at Ciro’s in March 1951. Sammy’s role was only for about twenty minutes, but the crowd loved him so much they kept asking for more, and thus his twenty-minute role turned into an hour-long.

After this, Sammy came into the world’s eye, he got huge praise from the critics for his dancing skills, and later Sammy released a huge number of albums. One of the first of Sammy’s many great achievements was to sing the title track for the movie Six Bridges To Cross. Universal Pictures made the movie and has worked for such a big name was huge for Sammy.

Sammy Davis Jr
Sammy Davis Jr (Credits – Biography.com)

This opened up many ways for Sammy, as in 1956; he got a starring role in a Broadway show named Mr. Wonderful. The show was focused on the entertainer Charlie Welch and the struts struggles of business. The Broadway show had a total of 383 performances, it soon became a commercial success, and everyone became a fan of Sammy’s performance on the show.

Mr. Wonderful
Mr. Wonderful (Credits – Universal Music)

The Rat Pack:

Sammy formed a group with Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford, and Frank Sinatra to form the Rat Pack. They decided to call their group The Clan but later changed it to The Summit. The name did not stick, and they were known as the name the media gave them.

The Rat Pack
The Rat Pack (Credits – NYPost.com)

The Rat Pack made several movies that did very well. Some of Thesean’s 11, Robin And The Seven Hoods, and Seargent’s 3. It was still hard for Sammy as he was often attacked with racial slurs. Racism was not only limited to words. A lot of times, Sammy and the other black performers were not allowed to stay in the hotel or use the hotel facilities. After a while, Sammy refused to work for places that practiced racism.

Relationships and family:

Relationships are something that we choose ourselves to be happy, and staying with the person we love makes one happy unfortunately, Sammy was not so lucky in love. In the year 1957, Sammy started dating an actress named Kim Novak. However, racism in America was not gone by then, and Sammy started getting death threats.

Sammy was required to marry a black woman within 48 hours. To self, Sammy married a black woman who went by the name of Loray White. The marriage did not work out and ended only after nine months. Sammy still did not get scared and, in 1960, married another white woman, May Brit.

Sammy's Family
Sammy’s Family (Credits – Los Angeles Times)

Once again, Sammy received threats but did pay attention to them. The couple had a daughter named Tracey and adopted two boys. Sammy’s marriage did not last forever, as he and May started facing problems due to Sammy’s career. Being a performer, Sammy was barely present and was always on the move, which caused the couple to break up in 1968.

Sammy and Altovise
Sammy and Altovise(Credits – Los Angeles Times)

On May 11, 1970, Sammy married Altovise Gore, a dancer Sammy met during his time on Broadway. The couple was happy with each other, and though they had their arguments, it always worked out for the adopted boy named Manny. This relationship with Sammy was his last one, as he and Altovise stayed married till Sammy’s death in 1990.

Sammy Davis Jr. car accident:-

Sammy Davis Jr. also had a near-death experience. This was when I started to know Sammy’s name, and he became famous in the industry. On November 19, 1954, Sammy Davis Jr was nearly killed in an automobile accident in San Bernadino, California. Sammy was driving back to Los Angeles from Las Vegas.

Many believe this accident to be bad luck as, on that day, Sammy was not wearing the Mezuzah. They were given to him by his dear friend Eddie Cantor. A Mezuzah has Jewish origins and is worn for good luck. Sammy wore the Mezuzah given to him as a necklace. Eddie and Sammy were close friends, and Sammy always wore the necklace given to him. It was only on the day of the accident that Sammy forgot to wear it and got involved in a car crash.

Sammy's car
Sammy’s car (Credits – Gettyimages)

The accident occurred due to the carelessness of another driver who missed her exit and backed up her vehicle’s lane. Being a new driver, Sammy was not very good at it. He did not see it coming and was not able to slow down.

He lost all control and directly crashed into the car in front of him. Sammy’s head hit the steering wheel of his vehicle, the steering had a bump at the center of it, and Sammy’s eye directly hit it. The women in their car survived the crash though they sustained many injuries.

Sammy was rushed to the hospital and put into surgery. At this time, all of Sammy’s loved one was there by his side. Flowers surrounded his bed, and the hospital phones were ringing continuously. Everybody was worried about Sammy’s health and well-being. People were worried as they did not know if Sammy would be able to survive.

Sammy Davis with his eye patch
Sammy Davis with his eye patch (Credits – Gettyimages)

The accident caused Sammy to lose his left eye. During this, one of Sammy’s close friends, Jeff Chandler, said he was ready to give Sammy one of his eyes if that would save him from going blind. Fortunately, Davis was saved, but his eye could not be fixed.

He had to wear an eye patch for quite a long time and would appear on television with it. He would say that he had no control, and after the crash, he could not believe he had been in an automobile accident.

Later Sammy was fixed with a glass eye that he wore for the rest of his life. Wearing a glass eye would be a problem for Davis, but he had no options. Having lost an eye created many problems for Davis, but he still managed to fight them and became most the celebrities of his time. 

Also read: What Happened To Outkast? Where Did the Band Disappear To?

About The Author

  • Manvendra Pant

    Manvendra Pant is an engineering student currently studying in Dehradun. Apart from studies he plays for the college football team and also likes reading nonfictional books. He specializes in writing about anime and gaming-related content. You can reach him at pantmanu8@gmail.com.

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