How Sammy Davis Jr. Lost His Eye – IOTW Report

How Sammy Davis Jr. Lost His Eye

PicTellMe: Sammy Davis Jr. was a multitalented entertainer with all the earmarks of a classic vaudevillian. He could sing, dance, act, and perform different comedy styles, and his peer impersonations were amazing. Davis had to rise above the indignities of racism, which made him a stronger person. His tenacity served him well when an early morning car accident left him without his left eye.

Davis was born on December 8, 1925, in New York City to an African American father, Sammy Davis Sr., and Puerto Rican mother, Elvera Sanchez. His grandmother raised him but could not prevent his father from bringing the 3-year-old Davis onstage to perform with the Will Mastin Trio. On November 19, 1954, a 28-year-old Davis, along with his friend and assistant Charley Head, were traveling south on Route 66 when his world changed suddenly and irrevocably. The Akron Beacon Journal reports Davis had just performed his first hit song “Hey There” on NBC’s “The Colgate Comedy Hour” and a late-night gig at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas.

He was scheduled to record the soundtrack for the 1955 film “Six Bridges to Cross,” so he drove his brand-new lime green Cadillac El Dorado back to Los Angeles instead of getting a hotel room. MORE HERE


19 Comments on How Sammy Davis Jr. Lost His Eye

  1. Interesting story. I always wondered about that.
    “The accident caused Ford to change El Dorado’s newly discovered design flaw.”
    That is poor investigative reporting. Cadillacs are General Motors products, not Ford’s.

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  2. HE WAS A GOOD MAN

    DECADES AGO, A CARLOAD OF TEENS LOST CONTROL ON SUNSET BLVD AROUND WILL ROGERS STATE PARK, CRASHED OFF THE ROAD, AND THE CRASH CAUSED THE CAR TO CATCH FIRE

    ALL THOSE YOUNG PEOPLE BURNED ALIVE

    IT WAS LATE AT NIGHT, AND SAMMY DAVIS JR WAS ONE WHO STOPPED TO SEE WHAT HE COULD DO, BUT IT WAS TOO LATE

    IT WAS HORRIFIC FOR ANYONE TO HAVE TO WITNESS THE TERRIBLE SCREAMING, AND I ALWAYS ADMIRED HIM FOR AT LEAST TRYING WHILE WITNESSING SOMETHING SO HORRIFIC AND TRAGIC

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  3. First concert I went to. I was about 11 and my aunt & uncle took me when they found out I liked his music. He was a great performer, pure talent and hard work.

    I never really wondered why he had a glass eye, just knew he did. Sort of like I didn’t really think anything of his being black, he just was. Thinking back, it seems we were so much better focused on what mattered instead of hyper aware of disabilities and color.

    BTW: Another flaw in the article: you don’t travel south on 66; you travel east and west.

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  4. This is why I won’t read the article. Several commentors pointed out that the Eldorado was a Cadillac not a Ford. It makes me wonder how much more of the article was made up hence my decision to not waste my time with it.

    I’m a cynical SOB.

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  5. …that ain’t no joke. I saw a LOT of messed up injuries and deaths in pre-airbag cars from steering column strikes, including seeing one REAL close up as a driver.

    …back in the day, I had a very, VERY used ’73 Olds Cutlass Supreme complete with peeling landau roof, rear quarter damage from some previous owner suddenly finding the front wheel of a semi the hard way, air shock lift kid, Keystone wheeled 50s in the back, 350 dual exhaust, and 4 bbl carb. 40w power booster under the dash, and LOTSA things that appealed to younger, unexperienced me, but what it DIDN’T have was AIRBAGS.

    (this 3,900 lbs of auto awesome came to me in a bet I won with my Dad after I finished off my ’71 Dart by learning the hard way how to work on cars that I couldn’t find one for less than $500.00. Turns out I COULD, and DID, and if I hadn’t burned it up alongside the road one day from mostly neglect, I’d still be driving it now and not these silly plastic things, but I digress…)

    …anyway, one day I was driving it extra stupid because I was mad about some girlfriend angst, and neglected to notice this li’l Plymouth Horizon making a left in a 4 way at a green light. I was moving at something over posted and knocked that guy into the next city (but thankfully not into any ADDITIONAL vehicles, one waz quite enough), and because of the lift kit took some pretty good doghouse damage (that probably saved his life because I took some force in the crumple instead of hitting him with my chrome armored bumper).

    …later, after I admitted guilt that the witnesses would have justly given me anyway, the guy ambulanced off and his car towed (MY bae could still be DRIVEN, it was a TANK), the cop said, “do YOU want to gp to the hospital?”.

    I said, “no, why?”.

    He pointed at my forehead and said, “That.”

    I touched where he pointed and came back with blood. I looked in a mirror and found a pretty decent bruise across my hard forehead.

    Huh.

    I declined, took my ticket, and was free to go. I got behind my giant, metal-embedded Bakelite steering wheel…and found I had broken it in half at the top with my head.

    I had no awareness that this had happened, no knowledge, no memory of this, but it was inarguable that at some point my head MUST have come forwards with enough force to split my steering wheel, then bounced me back off the metal and upright before I even realized what happened. There was no reaction time, no ability to aim towards anything or away from anything, not even time to register it was happening. Only the Grace of God kept me from breaking anything more important. Adrenaline kept me from feeling it, and tunnel vision kept me from even checking for it.

    This gave me a greater understanding years later of the damage to look for and the injuries I found on folks I cut from cars years later, from dislocated jaws and busted eye orbits (but not as devastating as Mr. Davis’) to this gal who had both her femurs rammed out of her ass with very little bleeding because her chest impact of her unseatbelted self with her unairbaged steering column had instantly stopped her heart.

    As a side note, in the same accident with Femur Lady was a passenger who was similarly unseatbelted, but was kinda alive where she definitely wasn’t. The fact that he had pitched fowards onto the center shifter that someone had previously removed the KNOB from so his eye socket was impaled on it into his BRAIN didn’t help, so we summomed a flight surgeon in a helicopter as we merrily cut various parts of the car away in anticipation of his arrival. Alas, he poked on the guy a bit and then declared him dead, but I can’t imagine he would have had much of a life having had a shifter in his cerebrum giving him a bone-splintered, vitreous fluid lubricated impromptu lobotomy.

    The takeaways?

    Wear seat belts.

    Air bags are (mostly) your friends.

    Sit in the car the way the OEM intened you to.

    Oh, and don’t drive angry.

    …do this, and maybe you won’t be keeping an eye out.

    Like Sammy!

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  6. He played at hotel venues in Vegas where “his kind” couldn’t get a room there.
    He and the Rat Pack helped change that.

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  7. Driving the Saw Mill back in the day it was not unusual to see drivers backing up on the parkway, as they had missed their exit.

  8. Fantastic story. I had no eye dea. LOL. The guy was a real talent. He also achieved rank of Gunslinger supreme. He included how fast he could draw in his act.

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  9. In my humble opinion, Sammy Davis Jr. was the only real talent in the Rat Pack. Frank Sinatra was a narcissistic ego-moron. Joey Bishop was a dick with ears,mean & NOT anywhere near funny, just a sycophant to Sinatra & that was why he was accepted. Dean Martin’s schtick as a drunk was just that, an act. He hardly, if ever, drank alcohol, it was water with food coloring to make it look like booze. Can’t remember the name, but it was all in a book by one of the people who managed them. Interesting story. A little side note, the apartment in the movie “Casino” that DeNiro lived in at the beginning was Sinatra’s real pad. It is preserved just as he left it.

  10. Funny but kinda sad joke he supposedly told about an experience he had somewhere in the deep south. He got on a bus and the driver tells him “Go to the back”. Sammy replied “I’m not a Negro, I’m a Jew”. The driver says “In that case, get the hell off”.

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