Why Sammy Davis Jr. Tried to Strangle His Bride on Their Wedding Day

Tha Sammy Davis Jr. considered one of the greatest entertainers ever. But the singer, musician, actor and dancer faced many personal challenges. He had to have a disgraceful marriage in 1958. And on his wedding day, Davis was so attractive, he tried to drag his wife.

Sammy Davis Jr.
Sammy Davis Jr. | John Springer / CORBIS / Corbis Collection via Getty Images

Sammy Davis Jr. had a famous music and film career.

Davis began his career at the age of 3 as a vaudeville actor, touring around the country with his father Sammy Davis Sr. and the Will Mastin Trio. In 1954, after playing as an opening prank for Frank Sinatra, Davis signed Decca Records and released two successful albums.

In 1959, Davis became a member of The Rat Pack, and played with Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. He has appeared in several films with The Rat Pack, including Seas 11 and Robin and the 7 Hoods.

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Davis released two Grammy nominated songs – “What Kind of Fool Am I?” and “The Candy Man.” After his death in 1990, he won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award in 2001 and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002.

He was against racism

Davis was a loving entertainer, but he was still against the common racism of the time. In 1957, he met white film star Kim Novak, and immediately felt a connection. The two stars began secretly dating, knowing they would never receive news of their intersex relationship.

“She hadn’t thought about me any more than I had thought about her – until it was forbidden,” Davis’ autobiography said. Sammy, reading. “Then we became conspirators, drawn together by one thing we had in common: a challenge.”

(LR) Jacques Cernes, Sammy Davis Jr., Marilyn Monroe, Milton Green, and Mel Torme
(LR) Jacques Cernes, Sammy Davis Jr., Marilyn Monroe, Milton Green, and Mel Torme | Bettmann / Fios

But when Columbia Pictures boss Harry Cohn found out about Davis and Novak’s romance, he felt it would damage the studio’s reputation. Cohn hired movers to threaten Davis, and some reports say they kidnapped him for a few hours, threatening to break his legs if he did not end his relationship and Novak.

“They said they would break both legs, put out his other eye, and bury him in a hole if he didn’t marry a black woman immediately,” Davis’ friend Arthur Silber said, as reported Iris Smithsonian. “He was scared as hell, as I was.”

Sammy Davis Jr. entered into an abusive marriage after being threatened by molesters

In 1958, after being threatened by Cohn’s blacksmith, Davis asked his girlfriend to marry Loray White. According to Silber, he chose his name out of his address book, and decided to get married to be like Cohn. Davis made a contract with White, and agreed to pay for his marriage and pretend to be his beloved wife.

But on their wedding day, the tormented David drank. On their car ride back from the wedding, Davis tried to drag White. Silber was able to stop Davis, and helped transport him back to his room. And finally he had to throw a gun out of David’s hand.

Sammy Davis Jr. on his wedding day with Loray White, holding his sister, Suzette, with Harry Belafonte, Donald O'Connor, and Joe E. Lewis
Sammy Davis Jr. on his wedding day with Loray White, holding his sister, Suzette, with Harry Belafonte, Donald O’Connor, and Joe E. Lewis | Bettmann / Getty Pictures

“He was seriously injured,” Silber said. “What he said to me, when he tore my coat apart at the shoulder, was, ‘Why don’t they let me spend my life?’

“I walked back to the bedroom just like he was shooting a gun,” he said. “I jumped on it … and I got the gun away from him. Then I sat on it with my knees on his shoulders until he went out. ”

Davis ’marriage to White lasted only a year. In 1960, he married May Britt, a white Swedish actor, with whom he had a daughter, Tracey Davis. After the couple separated, Davis married the dancer Altovise Gore, and remained with her until his death.

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