Confidential Magazine Article, July, 1965
WHY SAMMY DAVIS ATTRACTS WHITE WOMEN
The story Tammy Grimes didn't tell the police
By BLANCHE NERONI
Who beat up Tammy Grimes?
Was she clobbered because of her 'friendship' with Sammy Davis Jr?
Like many white stars ranging from Ava Gardner to Elizabeth Taylor, Tammy had long been one of Sammy's admirers. At the time of the slugging she supposedly was rehearsing a night club act which Sammy was directing:
Was she telling the truth when she claimed "white rascits" slashed and slugged her because they "objected to my associating with Negro entertainers?" Show biz has been buzzing with these questions ever since the blonde, green-eyed actress showed up at a Broadway premiere looking ilke the loser in a barroom brawl.
The Plymouth Theater was dark when she arrived 15 minutes for the openiing of "The Odd Couple." But all eyes turned on Tammy when she strode down the center aisle wearing a low=cut gold gown, a black eye and bandages on her right cheek and left hand.
She didn't intend to steal the show, but she immediately became the star of a new Broadway Whodunit. Tammy has a reputation for sloppiness. She often resembles a haystack in a hurricane. Pals call her Grimey Tams. But even her closest chums were shocked by her black-and-blue decor. So how did it happen? Several newsmen put this question to tawny-haired Tammy and almost every one of them got a different answer. The first reporter to reach her after the theater opening was rewarded with the most interesting version. Tammy, who reached Broadway stardom in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" and scored another hit in "High Spirits," told him "white rascists" had attacked her twice in three days.
Four men approached her outside a Broadway drugstore the proceding Sunday night, she said, and slashed her left hand with a knife or razor after calling her a "nigger lover."
Two nights later, at about the same time and place, the same gang attacked her again. "They came up and hit me," she said. "No words. Nothing. Just hit me and left."
"They apparently objected to my associating with Negro entertainers," she added. Her theory was that her attackers had read a column item about a nightclub act she and Sammy Davis were arranging. She said she and Sammy had been seen leaving a broadway bowling alley a few nights before the attack. Tammy said she had filed an assault complaint with the police, but she didn't expect much to come from their investigation. "I had to hire a bodyguard", she said. "I'm not relying on the police."
When the reporter pressed her for additional details, including a description of her attackers, Tammy turned clam. "Look," she said, "my face hurts, my rib is broken and my hand is shredded. I don't feel like talking. But I hate this thing and I'm not going to let it make me run and hide."
The New York Police Department promptly deinied that Tammy had filed any complaint. What happened, a department spokesman said, was this: Around 8:30 p.m. on the Sunday before her theater appearance, Tammy walked into Midtown Hospital and asked for emergency treatment. She was bleeding profusely from a slash wound in her left hand. Five stitches were taken to close the gash. The hospital notified police, as required in all cases of unexplained injuries. Two detectives went there to question her. According to these detectives, Tammy begged them to keep the incident out of the newspapers. "Her only injury was a laceration of the left hand," one of the detectives said later. "She said she didn't remember how she got it. She said it might have been an accident." "She asked us if it could be kept quiet. 'Please, I don't want any publicity.' At no time did she mention any assault. Her other injuries were sustained later, but Tammy did not request hospital or police aid.
When her first account of the two assaults appeared in print, reporters besieged her in her town house at 326 E. 51st. St. She received them in a tight white sweater, tight tan slacks and huge dark glasses. Her right hand was still swathed in bandages and a band-aid cross covered the damage to her right cheek. "I don't know how I injured my hand," she said. This time she claimed she was cut when she went to a Broadway drugstore to buy bubblegum for her 7-year-old daughter, Amanda. "I don't know how it happened", she said, tossing her unkempt curls. "I don't want to sound pretentious, but I had $200 cash money in my pocket and was wearing a mink coat. While I was in the drug store, I signed three autographs. I'm not Elizabeth Taylor, but three people recognized me. I came out of the drugstore, and my driver said 'Miss Grimes, you're bleeding.' I said, 'That's all right, take me home.' But he said the cut might be deep so I went to Midtown Hospital."
Later, she changed this account slightly. She said she met negro choreography Lester Wilson outside the drugstore and told him that her hand was cut.
Two nights later, she said, four men accosted her outside her townhouse. "One of the said 'Are you a nigger lover?' "I told them 'It doesn't matter whether I love them or I hate them But don't use that word. I don't like that word.' "Then one of them hit me, and I ran into the house." She admitted she did not report this incident to the police. Asked to describe her attackers, she said that she couldn't give any description, except "they were definitely not Negroes.'" Still later, in yet another interview, she said she was clobbered by four young men in black jackets, black pants, black boots, with tousled hair and long sideburns. The sounded as if they had just stepped out of 'West Side Story."
To detectives, who interviewed her again between newspaper and TV interviews, Tammy insisted it was no use looking at rogues' gallery photos because she could not identify her assailants and did not know what they looked like.
Her explanation was rambling and at times incoherent. She confessed she had been taking sedatives for her various injuries, including a rib she had cracked in a recent fall. The cops finally gave up in exasperation. Detectives quizzed Tammy's neighbors but found no one who had noticed black-clad toughs loitering outside her house. Questioning of her Broadway buddies also drew a blank.
"Broadwayites are still waiting for an official explanation of Tammy Grimes' recent wounds," columnist Dorothy Kilgallen complained a few days later. "One would think that when an actress of her stature was assaulted, the police would investigate the case as thoroughly as if she were an average citizen." Now, now Dottie. Don't get your dander up. The CONFIDENTIAL truth is that the police did everything possible- short of a Third Degree on Tammy- to find out what happened.
"Until she is willing to cooperate and tell us the full story," one police officer says, "there is nothing further that we can do."
And what about Sammy Davis? Sammy, who is happily married to Swedish actress May Britt and had a taste for blondes before she came along, apparently had mixed feelings about honey-haired Tammy. The New York newspaper that notified him of Tammy's brutal beating quoted Sammy as saying "I'm shocked. I haven't seen her since we went bowling last Thursday night and afterward a group of us went to a nightclub."
A few hours after this statement hit the newstands, one of Sammy's press agents issued a news comment from the Negro entertainer: "Miss Grimes has called me with regard to helping her with a nightclub act. I said yes. Since then I have not heard a word from her nor has there been one day of rehearsal. "I do not know Miss Grimes nor have I ever associated with her socially."
The Broadway crowd is still speculating about who torpedoed the unsinkable Tammy Grimes. There are rumors, of course, but no one can say for sure except Tammy and the unknown person or persons who lowered the boom.
The article is accompanied by a 3/4 page color cover photo of Sammy dancing with Tammy Grimes- The Story Tammy didn't tell the police; The same black and white photo, full page lead in to the article, other small black and white photos of Sammy with blonde caucasian women- Tammy Grimes, at far left, dances with Sammy Davis Jr., at a party given by the Richard Burtons. Sammy's Swedish wife, also a blonde, is pictured with the actor on arrival from a trip abroad. His own people have often criticized Sammy for living almost exclusively in the Jet-set world of white society. Among his chums, from left to right, are Joan Stuart, to whom he was married briefly, Paula Wayne, appearing with him on Broadway in "Golden Boy" and a long time fan, Liz Taylor.
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