Ossie Davis was born in Cogdell, Georgia. He graduated from high
school in Waycross, Georgia, then attended Howard University. He
began his career as a writer and an actor with the Rose
McClendon Players in Harlem in 1939.
In 1946, Mr. Davis made his Broadway debut in Jeb and went on to
perform in many Broadway productions, including Anna Lucasta,
The Wisteria Trees, Green Pastures, Jamaica, Ballad for Bimshire,
The Zulu and the Zayda, and the stage version of I'm Not Rappaport. In 1961, Mr. Davis wrote and starred in the
critically acclaimed Purlie Victorious. He was inducted into the
Theater Hall of Fame in 1994.
After making his film debut in No Way Out (1950, with Sidney Poitier), Mr. Davis appeared in such films as The Cardinal, The
Hill, and The Scalphunters. In 1970, Mr. Davis directed his
first feature film, Cotton Comes to Harlem. He went on to direct
four others: Gordon's War, Kongi's Harvest, Black Girl, and Countdown at Kusini, which he also co-produced with his wife,
Mr. Davis' first appearance on the small screen was in the title
role of the 1965 television production of The Emperor Jones. He
received Emmy Award nominations for his work in Teacher,
Teacher; King, and most recently Miss Evers' Boys. He has been a
regular or recurring player in the series With Ossie & Ruby, B.
L. Stryker, Evening Shade, and The Client. Additional notable
television credits include Night Gallery, The Sheriff, The
Ernest Green Story, Roots: The Next Generation, Alex Haley's Queen, The Stand, The Defenders, and Bonanza. Currently, Mr.
Davis co-hosts the African Heritage Movie Network's Movie of the
Month. His television writing credits include episodes of East
Side/West Side and the teleplay of For Us the Living, for which
he received the Neil Simon Jury Award.
He has also appeared in the films Miss Evers' Boys, Dr. Dolittle with Eddie Murphy; Get on the Bus for Spike Lee; I'm Not Rappaport with Walter Matthau; 12 Angry Men for Showtime
Network; and on the CBS television series Promised Land and Touched by an Angel.
Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee have produced several television
specials, including Today Is Ours, Martin Luther King: The Dream
& The Drum, and two segments of A Walk Through the 20th Century
with Bill Moyers. They also co-produced the television series With Ossie & Ruby, which aired for three seasons. In 1980, Mr.
Davis and Ms. Dee founded their own production company, Emmalyn
II Productions Company, Inc.
Mr. Davis has received many honors and citations, including the
N.Y. Urban League Frederick Douglass Award, the NAACP Image
Award, the National Medal of Arts, and most recently to both him
and Ruby Dee, the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award
He is the author of three children's books: Escape to Freedom (honored by the American Library Association and the Jane Addams
Children's Book Award); Langston; and Just Like Martin. He and
Ruby Dee recently marked their 50th wedding anniversary with the
publication of their joint autobiography, With Ossie and Ruby:
In This Life Together. Davis is currently in the process of
writing a play.