Clip | Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me - Sammy Davis, Jr.’s Close Call with Death

The devastating car accident that caused Sammy Davis, Jr. to reevaluate his life and change his religious beliefs.

Transcript Print

('The Lonesome Road' song) - Sammy was driving down the road and two women coming in the other direction rammed into him and he fell and hit the post and knocked his eye out.

- You know, Sammy's in this horrible car accident and he gets out of the car and his hand, he has his eye in his hand and he wakes up in a hospital.

And his eyes are both covered.

- Well, I got a call at three in the morning, and I hired a plane and flew there fast.

And all I did was sit with him for seven days.

Never left his room.

- Sammy, as he relates in his autobiography, had a number of conversations with various rabbis, one was serendipitous, was a rabbi visiting in the hospital after his accident.

- After I had the accident, I came out and I needed something desperately to hold onto, right?

Found myself being more and more convinced that Judaism was it for me.

I know that there is sort of a kinship between the plight of the Negro and the plight of the Jew.

The oppression, the segregation, the constant trying to survive and the trying to achieve dignity.

My mother was a Catholic, my father was a Baptist.

And then I became, sort of, nothing for a while.

And I looked around, I was really shopping for something to believe in because I, see, when you're a performer, you deal in such intangibles, that you need a religion to hold on to.

You really do.

- [Female] He lost an eye in the accident and I think it was very traumatic.

- It was tough, period. Tough.

You have to learn to rebalance your whole life, no less, what's happening here in your brain.

- [Male] How do you recalibrate the way you see, the way you move?