Ossie Davis was an American actor and director.


Born Raiford Davis in Cogdell, Georgia, he began acting with the Rose McClendon Players in Harlem and made his first professional theatre appearance in Joy Exceeding Glory. He began a prolific acting career onscreen, with a major appearance in The Hill in 1955 and other roles including the films Hot Stuff and Jungle Fever and television series including Hawaii Five-O and Evening Shade. He wrote the stage play Paul Robeson All-American.

Davis directed the films Cotton Comes to Harlem, Gordon’s War and Countdown at Kusini. He continued to act in theatre (Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death and I’m Not Rappaport) television (the television film remake of 12 Angry Men) and films such as The Nutty Professor and Bubba Ho-Tep. He was also a committed civil rights activist.

Davis passed away in 2005.


Davis originated roles in three stage musicals in the 1950s and 60s; Jamaica, Ballad for Bimshire and The Zulu and the Zayda.


Car 54, Where Are You? (1962)

  • Deck the Halls


Jamaica (1957)(originated the role)

  • Little Biscuit (duet)
  • What Good Does It Do? (contains solo lines)

Ballad for Bimshire (1963)(originated the role)

The Zulu and the Zayda (1965)(originated the role)

  • Tkambuza (solo)
  • Crocodile Wife (solo)
  • The Water Wears Down the Stone (solo)
  • Cold, Cold Room (solo)


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