Davis in 2000
Raiford Chatman Davis
December 18, 1917
Cogdell, Clinch County, Georgia, U.S.
|Died||February 4, 2005 87) (aged|
|Occupation||Actor, director, poet, playwright, author, activist|
Ruby Dee (m. 1948)
|Children||3, including Guy Davis|
|Service/||United States Army|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Ossie Davis (born Raiford Chatman Davis; December 18, 1917 – February 4, 2005) was an American film, television and Broadway actor, director, poet, playwright, author, and civil rights activist.
Broadway theatre, also known simply as Broadway, refers to the theatrical performances presented in the 41 professional theatres, each with 500 or more seats located in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Along with London's West End theatre, Broadway theatre is widely considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world.
Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals. They ensure one's entitlement to participate in the civil and political life of the society and state without discrimination or repression.
He was married to Ruby Dee, with whom he frequently performed, until his death in 2005.
Ruby Dee was an American actress, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist, and civil rights activist. She is perhaps best known for originating the role of "Ruth Younger" in the stage and film versions of A Raisin in the Sun (1961). Her other notable film roles include The Jackie Robinson Story (1950) and Do the Right Thing (1989).
He and his wife were named to the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame; were awarded the National Medal of Artsand were recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors. He was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1994.
The NAACP Image Award is an annual awards ceremony presented by the U.S.-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to honor outstanding performances in film, television, music, and literature. Similar to other awards, like the Oscars and the Grammys, the over 40 categories of the Image Awards are voted on by the award organization's members. Honorary awards have also been included, such as the President's Award, the Chairman's Award, the Entertainer of the Year, and the Hall of Fame Award.
The Kennedy Center Honors is an annual honor given to those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture. The honors have been presented annually since 1978, culminating each December in a star-studded gala celebrating the honorees in the Kennedy Center Opera House.
The American Theater Hall of Fame in New York City was founded in 1972. Earl Blackwell was the first head of the organization's Executive Committee. In an announcement in 1972, he said that the new Theater Hall of Fame would be located in the Uris Theatre. James M. Nederlander and Gerard Oestreicher, who leased the theater, donated the space for the Hall of Fame; Arnold Weissberger was another founder. Blackwell noted that the names of the first honorees would "be embossed in bronze-gold lettering on the theater's entrance walls flanking its grand staircase and escalator." The first group of inductees was announced in October 1972.
Raiford Chatman Davis was born in Cogdell, Clinch County, Georgia, a son of Kince Charles Davis, a railway construction engineer, and his wife Laura (née Cooper; July 9, 1898 – June 6, 2004).He inadvertently became known as "Ossie" when his birth certificate was being filed and his mother's pronunciation of his name as "R. C. Davis" was misheard by the courthouse clerk in Clinch County, Ga. Davis experienced racism from an early age when the KKK threatened to shoot his father, whose job they felt was too advanced for a black man to have. His siblings included scientist William Conan Davis, social worker Essie Morgan Davis, pharmacist Kenneth Curtis Davis, and biology teacher James Davis.
Clinch County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 6,798. The county seat is Homerville. The county was created on February 14, 1850, named in honor of Duncan Lamont Clinch.
Racism is the belief in the superiority of one race over another. It may also mean prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against other people because they are of a different race or ethnicity. Modern variants of racism are often based in social perceptions of biological differences between peoples. These views can take the form of social actions, practices or beliefs, or political systems in which different races are ranked as inherently superior or inferior to each other, based on presumed shared inheritable traits, abilities, or qualities.
The Ku Klux Klan, commonly called the KKK or the Klan, is an American white supremacist hate group, whose primary target is African Americans. The Klan has existed in three distinct eras at different points in time during the history of the United States. Each has advocated extremist reactionary positions such as white nationalism, anti-immigration and—especially in later iterations—Nordicism and anti-Catholicism. Historically, the First Klan used terrorism – both physical assault and murder – against politically active blacks and their allies in the South in the late 1860s, until it was suppressed around 1872. All three movements have called for the "purification" of American society and all are considered right-wing extremist organizations. In each era, membership was secret and estimates of the total were highly exaggerated by both friends and enemies.
Following the wishes of his parents, he attended Howard University but dropped out in 1939 to fulfill his desire for an acting career in New York after a recommendation by Alain Locke; he later attended Columbia University School of General Studies. His acting career, which spanned eight decades, began in 1939 with the Rose McClendon Players in Harlem. During World War II, Davis served in the United States Army in the Medical Corps. He made his film debut in 1950 in the Sidney Poitier film No Way Out . He voiced Anansi the spider on the PBS children's television series Sesame Street in its animation segments.
Howard University is a private, federally chartered historically black university (HBCU) in Washington, D.C. It is categorized by the Carnegie Foundation as a research university with higher research activity and is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The School of General Studies, Columbia University (GS) is a liberal arts college and one of the undergraduate colleges of Columbia University, situated on the university's main campus in Morningside Heights, New York City. GS is known primarily for its traditional B.A. degree program for mature students. GS students make up approximately 30% of the Columbia undergraduate population.
Harlem is a neighborhood in the northern section of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is bounded roughly by Frederick Douglass Boulevard, St. Nicholas Avenue, and Morningside Park on the west; the Harlem River and 155th Street on the north; Fifth Avenue on the east; and Central Park North on the south. The greater Harlem area encompasses several other neighborhoods and extends west to the Hudson River, north to 155th Street, east to the East River, and south to 96th Street. Harlem is part of Manhattan Community District 10.
When Davis wanted to pursue a career in acting, he ran into the usual roadblocks that blacks suffered at that time as they generally could only portray stereotypical characters such as Stepin Fetchit. Instead, he tried to follow the example of Sidney Poitier and play more distinguished characters. When he found it necessary to play a Pullman porter or a butler, he played those characters realistically, not as a caricature.
Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry, better known by the stage name Stepin Fetchit, was an American vaudevillian, comedian and film actor of Jamaican and Bahamian descent, considered to be the first black actor to have a successful film career. His highest profile was during the 1930s when in films and on stage, his persona of Stepin Fetchit was billed as "the Laziest Man in the World".
Sir Sidney Poitier, is a Bahamian-American actor and film director.
The Pullman Car Company, founded by George Pullman, manufactured railroad cars in the mid-to-late 19th century through the first half of the 20th century, during the boom of railroads in the United States. Through rapid late nineteenth century development of mass production, and takeover of rivals, the company developed a virtual monopoly on production and ownership of sleeper cars.
In addition to acting, Davis, along with Melvin Van Peebles and Gordon Parks, was one of the notable black directors of his generation: he directed movies such as Gordon's War , Black Girl and Cotton Comes to Harlem . Along with Bill Cosby and Poitier, Davis was one of a handful of black actors able to find commercial success while avoiding stereotypical roles prior to 1970, which also included a significant role in the 1965 movie The Hill alongside Sean Connery plus roles in The Cardinal and The Scalphunters . However, Davis never had the tremendous commercial or critical success that Cosby and Poitier enjoyed. As a playwright, Davis wrote Paul Robeson: All-American, which is frequently performed in theatre programs for young audiences.
In 1976, Davis appeared on Muhammad Ali's novelty album for children, The Adventures of Ali and His Gang vs. Mr. Tooth Decay .
Davis found recognition late in his life by working in several of director Spike Lee's films, including Do The Right Thing , Jungle Fever , She Hate Me and Get on the Bus . He also found work as a commercial voice-over artist and served as the narrator of the early-1990s CBS sitcom Evening Shade , starring Burt Reynolds, where he also played one of the residents of a small southern town.
In 1999, Davis appeared as a theater caretaker in the Trans-Siberian Orchestra film The Ghosts of Christmas Eve , which was released on DVD two years later.
For many years, he hosted the annual National Memorial Day Concert from Washington, DC. His distinguished bearing made him a perfect choice for the concert. Following his passing, the hosting duties passed on to the twosome of Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna.
Davis's last role was a several episode guest role on the Showtime drama series The L Word , as a father struggling with the acceptance of his daughter Bette (Jennifer Beals) parenting a child with her lesbian partner. In his final episodes, his character was taken ill and died. His wife Ruby Dee was present during the filming of his own death scene. That episode, which aired shortly after Davis's own death, aired with a dedication to the actor.
In 1989, Ossie Davis and his wife, actress/activist Ruby Dee, were named to the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame. In 1995, they were awarded the National Medal of Arts, the nation's highest honor conferred to an individual artist on behalf of the country and presented in a White House ceremony by the President of the United States.And in 2004, they were recipients of the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors. According to the Kennedy Center Honors:
In 1994, Davis was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.
Davis and Dee were well known as civil rights activists during the Civil Rights Movement and were close friends of Malcolm X, Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr. and other icons of the era. They were involved in organizing the 1963 civil rights March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and served as its emcees. Davis, alongside Ahmed Osman, delivered the eulogy at the funeral of Malcolm X. He re-read part of this eulogy at the end of Spike Lee's film Malcolm X . He also delivered a stirring tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, at a memorial in New York's Central Park the day after King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.
In 1948, Davis married actress Ruby Dee, whom he had met on the set of Robert Ardrey's 1946 play Jeb . In their joint autobiography With Ossie and Ruby, they described their decision to have an open marriage, later changing their minds.In the mid-1960s they moved to the New York suburb of New Rochelle, where they remained ever after. Their son Guy Davis is a blues musician and former actor, who appeared in the film Beat Street (1984) and the daytime soap opera One Life to Live . Their daughters are Nora Davis Day and Hasna Muhammad.
Davis was found dead in a Miami hotel room on February 4, 2005. An official cause of death was not released, but he was known to have had heart problems.
Do the Right Thing is a 1989 American comedy-drama film produced, written, and directed by Spike Lee. It stars Lee, Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Richard Edson, Giancarlo Esposito, Bill Nunn, John Turturro, and Samuel L. Jackson, and is the feature film debut of Martin Lawrence and Rosie Perez. The story follows a Brooklyn neighborhood's simmering racial tension, which culminates in tragedy on a hot summer day.
Samuel George Davis Jr. was an American singer, musician, dancer, actor, vaudevillian, comedian and activist known for his impressions of actors, musicians and other celebrities. At age three, Davis Jr. began his career in vaudeville with his father Sammy Davis Sr. and the Will Mastin Trio, which toured nationally.
Purlie is a musical with a book by Ossie Davis, Philip Rose, and Peter Udell, lyrics by Udell and music by Gary Geld. It is based on Davis's 1961 play Purlie Victorious, which was later made into the 1963 film Gone Are the Days! and which included many of the original Broadway cast, including Davis, Ruby Dee, Alan Alda, Beah Richards, Godfrey Cambridge, and Sorrell Booke.
No Way Out is a 1950 black-and-white American film noir directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and starring Richard Widmark, Linda Darnell, Stephen McNally and Sidney Poitier, who portrays a doctor tending to slum residents whose ethics are tested when confronted with racism, personified by Richard Widmark as the hateful robber Ray Biddle.
Beah: A Black Woman Speaks is a 2003 documentary about the life of Academy Award nominated actress Beah Richards. Directed by Lisa Gay Hamilton, it won the Documentary Award at the AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival in 2003, and a Peabody Award in 2004.
Nicholas Webster was an American film and television director. Chiefly remembered for his CBS program The Violent World of Sam Huff ; the ABC Close Up documentary Walk in My Shoes (1961), nominated for an Emmy as the best television program of the year, it was the first time the story of African Americans was told in their own words on television; Purlie Victorious, the film version of Ossie Davis' acclaimed stage play starring Davis, Ruby Dee, and Alan Alda in his first film role); and the feature film Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964), a children's favorite for more than 40 years and noteworthy to trivia buffs as Pia Zadora's first film. It was originally reviewed as "a children's film adults won't mind sitting through", though it was later listed by the Medved brothers as one of the 50 worst films of all time, thus ensuring its ongoing cult status); and the ABC special Ridin' the Rails: The Great American Train Story (1974), which featured Johnny Cash. The program was recently re-released by Rhino Records.
Joseph Armstrong DeLaine (1898–1974) was a Methodist minister and civil rights leader from Clarendon County, South Carolina. He received a B.A. from Allen University in 1931, working as a laborer and running a dry cleaning business to pay for his education. DeLaine worked with Modjeska Simkins and the South Carolina NAACP on the case Briggs v. Elliott, which challenged segregation in Summerton, South Carolina.
Let's Do It Again is a 1975 American action crime comedy film directed by and starring Sidney Poitier and co-starring Bill Cosby and Jimmie Walker, among an all-star black cast. The film, directed by Poitier, is about blue-collar workers who decide to rig a boxing match to raise money for their fraternal lodge. The song of the same name by The Staple Singers was featured as the opening and ending theme of the movie, and as a result, the two have become commonly associated with each other. The production companies include Verdon Productions and The First Artists Production Company, Ltd., and distributed by Warner Bros. The movie was filmed in two cities, Atlanta, Georgia and New Orleans, Louisiana, where most of the plot takes place. This was the second film pairing of Poitier and Cosby following Uptown Saturday Night, and followed by A Piece of the Action (1977). Of the three, Let's Do It Again has been the most successful both critically and commercially. Calvin Lockhart and Lee Chamberlin also appeared in Uptown Saturday Night. According to the American Film Institute, Let's Do It Again is not a sequel to Uptown Saturday Night.
Philip Rose was a Broadway theatrical producer of such productions as A Raisin in the Sun, The Owl and the Pussycat, Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?, Purlie, and Shenandoah. His work was particularly notable for its social insight and distinctive social conscience.
Edge of the City is a 1957 American film-noir drama film directed by Martin Ritt, starring John Cassavetes and Sidney Poitier. It was Ritt's debut film as a director. Robert Alan Aurthur's screenplay was expanded from his original script, staged as the final episode of Philco Television Playhouse, A Man Is Ten Feet Tall (1955), also featuring Poitier.
Paul Mann was a Canadian film and theater actor, as well as founder of the Paul Mann Actor's Workshop. His brother was the actor Larry D. Mann.
Crossroads Theatre is a theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey, located in the city's Civic Square government and theatre district. Founded in 1978, it is the winner of the 1999 Regional Theatre Tony Award.
Dick Campbell, born Cornelius Coleridge Campbell, was a key figure in black theater during the Harlem Renaissance. While a successful performer in his own right, Campbell is best known as a tireless advocate for black actors in general. As a theater producer and director, he helped launch the careers of several black theater artists, including Ossie Davis, Frederick O'Neal, Loften Mitchell, Helen Martin, and Abram Hill.
Countdown at Kusini is a 1976 action/drama film written by Howard Friedlander and Ed Spielman, and directed by Ossie Davis.
Attallah Shabazz is the eldest daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz. She is an actress, author, ambassador, and motivational speaker.
Crown Dick is a 1987 drama film directed by Ossie Davis.
Gone Are the Days! is a 1963 American comedy-drama film starring Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee and Godfrey Cambridge. It is based on the Broadway play Purlie Victorious, which was written by Davis. Davis, Dee, Cambridge, Beah Richards, Alan Alda and Sorrell Booke reprised their roles from the play. This was also Alda's film debut.
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