The Legend's Close Call

How Did Sammy Davis Jr. Lose His Eye?

How Did Sammy Davis Jr. Lose His Eye

One of the most incredible and talented entertainers in history is easily Sammy Davis Jr. He could make you laugh, think, or cry at the drop of a hat! Did you know how he lost his eye? Find out here!

Everyone knows Sammy Davis Jr. His incredible music, voice, laugh, and dance moves are forever ingrained in history. The musical icon and Rat Pack member tragically lost his eye in 1954 but didn't let that stop him from skyrocketing his career.

But how did he lose his eye?

How Sammy Davis Jr. Lost His Eye

Sammy Davis Jr. was only 29 years old on November 19th, 1954 when he was travelling from Las Vegas to San Bernadino. He was an inexperienced driver behind the wheel of his lime green Cadillac convertible. 

According to Entertainment Weekly, he had been gifted a mezuzah by legendary Eddie Cantor which Sammy wore around his neck for good luck but on this particular night, he forgot it. When he reached San Bernadino, so close to his destination, a 72-year-old woman backed out of her driveway and Sammy's Cadillac slammed into her car. 

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Sammy Davis Jr. in 'Johnny Cool'.

The "I've Got You Under My Skin" singers face subsequently slammed into his steering column, directly into the bullet-shaped horn that was a standard feature in Cadillac's at the time. The Daily Bulletin reported that Davis said, "I had no control. I was just there, totally consumed by it, unable to believe I was really in an automobile crash."

He was rushed to the hospital where the surgeon let him know his eye would have to be removed entirely because of the extensive damage. After staying in the hospital for a week, his close friend Frank Sinatra demanded that Sammy be able to recover in his Palm Springs home. 

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Sammy Davis Jr. in 1972.

The strong-willed Sammy pushed through and wore an eye patch while working on his next album and for a few of his films like Johnny Cool. Eventually, he was fitted with a well-crafted glass eye that he wore for the rest of his life. 

Big-hearted Sammy later raised thousands in funds for the very dilapidated hospital that rushed to care for him on that scary night in 1954. A few years after the accident he even put together a fundraiser for the hospital and had countless of his famous friends come to support or perform. The lineup included Tony Curtis, Sidney Poitier, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Judy Garland!

Thank goodness Sammy survived that night and ended up living all the way up until 1990 to produce his art that will be treasured forever.

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Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Frank Sinatra.