Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. were longtime friends and members of the Rat Pack. The two men became close as young performers and remained that way until Davis died in 1990. When Davis had a car accident that left him without an eye, Sinatra even offered his home as a place for Davis to recuperate. He did not want to visit his longtime friend in the hospital, however. His girlfriend ultimately had to force him to go.
Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. met as young performers
Sinatra and Davis met in 1941, when both men were performing in Detroit. Davis was performing with his father and uncle in the Will Mastin Trio, and the group opened for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, the group in which Sinatra sang. Per ABC News, the two men bonded over a sandwich backstage.
In 1947, Sinatra headlined at the Capitol Theater in New York City under the condition that the Will Mastin Trio open for him. According to the book Sinatra: The Chairman by James Kaplan, Sinatra also demanded that management pay the trio five times their standard rate.
Frank Sinatra was hesitant to visit Sammy Davis Jr. in the hospital
In 1954, Davis got into a car accident. The force of the crash pushed Davis’ head forward into an ornament in the center of the steering wheel. The impact destroyed his left eye and nearly killed him. A number of Hollywood stars visited him in the hospital, but Sinatra was hesitant. He wasn’t upset with Davis, he just hated hospitals. Eventually, his then-girlfriend Cindy Bayes had to force him to go.
“I said, ‘You don’t understand what you mean in this kid’s life.’ He said, ‘I’ll go tomorrow.’ But at five in the morning, he comes back [home]. He was drunk. I came running out in a bathrobe. He started sobbing — not about Sammy, but about what a mess he had made of his life. I said, ‘I don’t want to see you again, because you’re so destructive.’ The next day, about two hundred flowers arrived.”
Evidently, Bayes’ words made Sinatra feel guilty. He visited Davis in the hospital the following afternoon and told Davis he could stay in his Palm Springs home when he got out of the hospital.
The ‘My Way’ singer gave a touching statement about his friend after his death
In 1990, Davis died of cancer at the age of 64. Sinatra gave a moving statement about his longtime friend.
“It is difficult to compress a friendship of more than 40 years into a few words,” he said, per the New York Daily News. “I wish the world could have known Sam as I did. Sam never gave less than 100% when he was on stage, and he gave even more to those of us lucky enough to call him friend.”
Per the Chicago Tribune, he added, “It was a generous God who gave him to us for all these years, and a heaven with his magic gives me warmth.”
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