From Amber's Thoughts:
Sammy Davis Jr. has a harrowing experience with a lion.
Hollywood Humor: Sammy Davis Junior Found Religion by Stephen Schochet
In 1954, Sammy Davis Jr. converted to Judaism, which led to him being the subject of several anecdotes. One time he boarded a bus in the deep, segregated south. “Git to the back of the bus”, said the rude driver.”But I’m Jewish”, protested the entertainer. “Then get off.”
Another time Sammy was filming Porgy And Bess(1959) when he announced he would not work on Yom Kippur. Word got back from the set to Porgy’s frugal producer Sam Goldwyn, he immediately called his idle performer who was costing him $30,000. “Sammy, is it true? You refuse to work on the holiday? “Yes it’s true Sam.” There was a tense pause then Goldwyn said,” Bless You.”
Then there was the night of the 1971 Oscars when Sammy hosted the show and remarked,” Tonight, the academy honors both my peoples with Fiddler On The Roof and Shaft.”
But there was one occasion when Sammy came to doubt his conversion. He and Frank Sinatra were asked to perform at the MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas with the MGM Lion in between them. They were assured it would be safe, the lion would be handled by a trainer with a choke chain. In the middle of the number the lion looked at Sammy and licked it’s lips. The lion hunched back like it was going to leap for Sammy, and Sammy scared to death made the Sign of the Cross. Luckily nothing happened. Later after the show they were having drinks in the lobby and Sinatra said nervously,” Boy Smokey, I thought that cat was going to come after you there– Hey Smokey didn’t you turn Jewish? Why did you make the Sign of the Cross when the cat came at ya?”
“Well babe, I didn’t think I’d have time to make the star of David!”