Ossie Davis

Ossie Davis

Highest Rated: 100% 4 Little Girls (1997)

Lowest Rated: 17% Her Alibi (1989)

Birthday: Dec 18, 1917

Birthplace: Not Available

A performer widely regarded as one of the most distinguished and eloquent actors of his or any generation, Ossie Davis combined an overwhelming amount of dramatic talent and instinct (evident via both stage and film work) with an indomitable fervor for social crusade. A native of Cogdell, GA, and a graduate of Howard University, Davis moved to Harlem at an early stage and trained with the Rose McClendon players. The actor then drew a considerable amount of attention -- alongside wife since 1948 Ruby Dee -- for helping to spearhead the American civil rights movement in the 1940s, over 20 years before it caught fire with the general public and mass media. Their combined efforts culminated in involvement with the triumphant March on Washington of August 1963, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech. In subsequent years, Davis also helped Dr. King raise money for the Freedom Riders and delivered a poignant eulogy at the funeral of Malcolm X. Meanwhile, Davis and Dee both established themselves as forces in theater and on film. Davis himself debuted on Broadway in 1946, and took his film bow with the 1950 No Way Out, but 13 years passed before his sophomore cinematic effort, the 1963 Gone Are the Days -- an adaptation of his own play Purlie Victorious. Unfortunately, the actor spent much of the '60s appearing in programmers that were either underappreciated (Shock Treatment, 1964) or unworthy of his talents (Sam Whiskey, 1969), and didn't fully realize his potential until he scripted and directed the 1970 Cotton Comes to Harlem, a gritty crime comedy (with a predominantly African-American cast including Godfrey Cambridge and Redd Foxx) that almost singlehandedly jump-started the blaxploitation movement and predated Sweet Sweetback and Shaft by a year. Several additional directorial projects followed throughout the 1970s and '80s and found Davis growing deeper and more profound, and setting his sights higher; these included the ambitious -- if not quite successful -- Kongi's Harvest (1971) and the finely-wrought, socially charged coming-of-age drama Black Girl (1972), arguably Davis' best film. Unfortunately, Davis' third and fourth efforts behind the camera, Gordon's War (1973) and Countdown at Kusini (1976), disappointed on many counts, relegating him (for better or worse) back to acting. He appeared in the racially themed, made-for-television dramas Roots (1977), King: The Martin Luther King Story (1978, in which he played Dr. King Sr.), and Roots: The Next Generations (1979), then -- around a decade later -- achieved a career resurgence thanks to the intelligence and bravura of wunderkind Spike Lee, who cast Davis in six major films: School Daze (1988), Do the Right Thing (1989), Jungle Fever (1991), Malcolm X (1992, as an off-camera narrator), Get on the Bus (1996), and She Hate Me (2004). Two of those films also included Dee in the cast. Davis also enjoyed a renewed profile on television during the early '90s when he was tapped to play a regular character on the charming and laid-back Burt Reynolds sitcom Evening Shade (1990-1994); he portrayed Ponder Blue, the series' narrator and the owner of a barbecue restaurant. Davis remained not only active but astonishingly prolific over the following ten years. Subsequent projects included small supporting roles in Grumpy Old Men (1993), The Client (1994), and Doctor Dolittle (1998), and participation in a series of documentaries, among them Christianity: The First Thousand Years (1998) and We Shall Not Be Moved (2001). Davis died in February 2005, in Miami, while shooting the movie Retirement. He was 87. Davis and Dee co-authored a dual autobiography, In This Life Together, in 1998.


Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet Ghetto Child Actor 2014
No Score Yet For Love of Liberty: The Story of America's Black Patriots Actor 2010
No Score Yet Please Stand Back! (zurrueckbleiben bitte) Actor 2008
No Score Yet Proud Lorenzo DuFau 2004
19% She Hate Me Judge Buchanan $81.9K 2004
No Score Yet Apollo At 70: A Hot Night in Harlem Actor 2004
78% Bubba Ho-Tep Jack Kennedy 2003
91% Baadasssss! Granddad $0.4M 2003
No Score Yet The Peace! DVD Actor 2003
No Score Yet Deacons for Defense Rev. Gregory 2003
No Score Yet Hughes' Dream Harlem Actor 2002
No Score Yet J.C. Leyendecker: The Great American Illustrator Narrator 2002
No Score Yet Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives Actor 2002
No Score Yet The Feast of All Saints Jean-Jacques 2001
No Score Yet We Shall Not Be Moved Narrator 2001
64% Dinosaur Yar $135.7M 2000
No Score Yet Finding Buck McHenry Mack Henry 2000
No Score Yet Here's to Life Duncan Cox 2000
No Score Yet Scandalize My Name: Stories from the Blacklist Actor 1999
No Score Yet The Soul Collector Mordecai 1999
No Score Yet Chasing Secrets Too Tall 1999
No Score Yet Paul Robeson: Here I Stand Actor 1999
No Score Yet A Vow to Cherish Alexander Billman 1999
42% Dr. Dolittle Archer Dolittle 1998
No Score Yet Tuskegee Airmen: American Heroes! Host 1998
No Score Yet Doctor Dolittle Actor 1998
100% 4 Little Girls Actor 1997
No Score Yet Miss Evers' Boys Mr. Evers 1997
92% 12 Angry Men Juror #2 1997
38% I'm Not Rappaport Midge 1996
88% Get on the Bus Jeremiah 1996
No Score Yet The Android Affair Winston 1995
No Score Yet Mississippi, America Narrator 1995
No Score Yet Arthur Ashe: Citizen of the World Actor 1994
78% The Client Judge Harry Roosevelt 1994
No Score Yet Arthur Ashe: Citizen of the World Narrator 1994
63% Grumpy Old Men Chuck 1993
No Score Yet The Ernest Green Story Grandfather 1993
88% Malcolm X Eulogy Performer 1992
No Score Yet Lincoln: The Pivotal Year, 1863 Frederick Douglas 1992
No Score Yet Lincoln: The Making of a President, 1860-1862 Frederick Douglas 1992
31% Gladiator Noah 1992
No Score Yet Smithsonian's Great Battles of the Civil War, Vol. 5 Actor 1992
No Score Yet Queen Parson Dick 1992
No Score Yet Lincoln: Now He Belongs to the Ages, 1865 Frederick Douglas 1992
No Score Yet Smithsonian's Great Battles of the Civil War, Vol. 1 Actor 1992
No Score Yet Lincoln: I Want to Finish This Job, 1864 Frederick Douglas 1992
81% Jungle Fever The Good Reverend Doctor 1991
No Score Yet Hands upon the Heart Actor 1991
62% Joe Versus the Volcano Marshall 1990
93% Do the Right Thing Da Mayor 1989
17% Her Alibi Actor 1989
No Score Yet Freedom Man Actor 1989
58% School Daze Coach Odom 1988
33% Avenging Angel Capt. Moradian 1985
36% Harry & Son Raymond 1984
No Score Yet For Us, the Living: The Story of Medgar Evers Screenwriter 1983
No Score Yet Death of a Prophet Actor 1981
No Score Yet Don't Look Back: The Story of Leroy 'Satchel' Paige Chuffy 1981
No Score Yet All God's Children Blaine Whitfield 1980
No Score Yet Hot Stuff Captain John Geiberger 1979
No Score Yet Freedom Road Narrator 1979
No Score Yet King Actor 1978
No Score Yet Countdown at Kusini Director Ernest Motapo Screenwriter 1976
63% Let's Do It Again Elder Johnson 1975
No Score Yet Gordon's War Actor Director 1973
No Score Yet Black Girl Director 1972
No Score Yet Malcolm X Narrator 1972
No Score Yet Cotton Comes to Harlem Screenwriter Director 1970
No Score Yet Night Gallery Actor 1969
No Score Yet Slaves Luke 1969
No Score Yet Sam Whiskey Jed Hooker 1969
70% The Scalphunters Joseph 1968
No Score Yet A Man Called Adam Nelson Davis 1966
100% The Hill Jacko King 1965
50% The Cardinal Father Gillis 1963
No Score Yet Purlie Victorious Purlie Victorious Screenwriter 1963
No Score Yet John Brown's Raid Actor 1960
No Score Yet The Joe Louis Story Bob (uncredited) 1953
100% 14 Hours Cab Driver 1951
90% No Way Out John 1950


No Score Yet POV
Appearing 2014
54% The L Word
Guest Melvin Porter 2005
No Score Yet JAG
Terrence Minnerly 2003
23% Presidio Med
Otis Clayton 2002
No Score Yet Touched by an Angel
Gabe Gabriel Erasmus Jones Erasmus 2002
20% City of Angels
The King 2000
No Score Yet Third Watch
John Parker 2000
No Score Yet Promised Land
Erasmus Jones Erasmus 1999
No Score Yet Ken Burns' Baseball
Voice 1994
70% The Stand
Judge Farris 1994
No Score Yet Evening Shade
Ponder Blue 1994
No Score Yet American Experience
Narrator 1993
No Score Yet Bonanza
Sam Davis 1969
No Score Yet The Fugitive
Gaines 1966
No Score Yet Night Gallery
88% Roots
25% The Client


Midge Carter says: You're not even friendly with the truth.

Roy Foltrigg says: Lyin' lips are an abomination to the Lord, so sayeth the Psalms!

Harry Roosevelt says: That's Proverbs 12:22.

Elvis Presley says: Uh, Mr. President... You're on the floor.

John "Jack" Fitzgerald Kennedy says: No shit?

Elvis Presley says: Now the two key words for tonight - "caution" and "flammable".

John "Jack" Fitzgerald Kennedy says: Also "watch your ass".

Da Mayor says: [after last night's riot] Hope the block is still standing.

Mother Sister says: We're still standing.

Mother Sister says: Good morning.

Da Mayor says: Is it a good morning?

Mother Sister says: Yes, indeed. You almost got yourself killed last night.

Da Mayor says: Always Do The Right Thing.

Da Mayor says: Always do the right thing.

Da Mayor says: Always do the right thing.

Mookie says: That's it?

Da Mayor says: That's it.

Mookie says: I got it, I'm gone.