the wearer the origin the impact
James Joyce Joyce never actually lost an eye—he claimed the patch aided his failing eyesight. Affected? A little. But perhaps also symbolic—Joyce was enamored of a certain one-eyed giant of Greek mythology: Episode 12 of Ulysses was titled “The Cyclops.”
Serizawa In the original Godzilla, the scientist’s eye patch is a vestige of WWII, driving home the film’s post-nuclear, antiwar theme. The patch gave the scientist street cred, instantly tougher than your average movie egghead—and he was, defeating Godzilla with his Oxygen Destroyer.
Nadine Hurley Batty and briefly superhuman, Hurley—the weirdest weirdo on Twin Peaks—lost her eye in a hunting accident. Peaks obsessives debated the meaning of the patch—but, like most things on that show, there probably wasn’t one.
Sammy Davis Jr. After a 1954 car accident, the Candyman made patches (plaid ones, even) part of his shtick. Davis milked it for so many jokes, Humphrey Bogart finally growled at him, “How long you gonna trade on the goddamn patch?” Davis took it off.
John Ford Too soon after eye surgery, the director ripped off his bandages, blinding himself in one eye. Ford’s next film, The Searchers, is considered his best. All in all, a brilliant career move!
Ziggy Stardust Conjunctivitis steered David Bowie toward the patch at the height of his Ziggy era. Bowie, in one of his rare style missteps, went full-on pirate with a blousy shirt, earring, and crotch-huggers. Ziggy’s lightning-bolt eye makeup couldn’t come fast enough.
Slick Rick The rapper, convicted of attempted murder in 1991 (and pardoned by Governor Paterson in May) was wounded by glass as a child. Rick pioneered the blinged-out eye patch: fake diamond encrusted and color coordinated (even chain link!). One of the rare instances of silly equaling cool.
Steve “Patch” Johnson On Days of Our Lives, the mercenary’s eye was gouged out by the brother of Kayla, his lover until his death in 1990. The eye patch is the least ridiculous thing about him. We say “is” because he returned from the grave and was reunited with Kayla in 2006.
Snake Plissken When Tommy Lee Jones passed on Escape From New York, Kurt Russell brought along a prop. An inspired choice: John Carpenter’s apocalyptic thriller is a camp classic, and the patch maintained the appropriate level of absurdity.
Elle Driver Daryl Hannah’s badass Kill Bill swordswoman had her eye plucked out for disrespecting her kung-fu teacher. The patch was one of Tarantino’s many nods to a favorite film—in this case the Swedish cult flick Thriller, a.k.a. They Call Her One Eye.
Photographs: From Top, Bettmann/CORBIS; Everett Collection; Spelling Entertainment/Everett Collection; David Sutton/MPTV; John Bryson/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images; Chris Walter/WireImage; Kevin Mazur/WireImage; Mitchell Haaseth/Courtesy of NBC; Everett Collection; Miramax/Everett Collection