Ossie Davis dead at 87

Feb 04, 2005 by Ian Evans

Ossie Davis, respected for both his acting and his activism, has died at the age of 87. Davis, who was working on a film called Retirement, was found dead in his hotel room Friday morning.

The actor, who was a star in stage, screen and TV, was paid tribute on Broadway Friday night as theaters dimmed their lights in his memory.

Davis and his wife, actress Ruby Dee, first worked together on stage in the plays Jeb and Anna Lucasta before working together on film in 1950’s No Way Out.

On TV, Davis had roles in Roots: The Next Generation, Martin Luther King: The Dream and the Drum, and The Stand. He was also a series regular on the sitcom Evening Shade. Burt Reynolds, his co-star from 1990-1994 said, “Since the loss of my father, no man has come close to represent the kind of man I hope to be some day. I know he’s sitting next to God now, and I know God envies that voice.”

Davis and Dee didn’t confine their energies to the world of entertainment as both were tireless fighters for civil rights. Davis delivered the eulogy for Malcolm X, a speech he would recreate for the Spike Jones biopic. Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo said that, “His greatness as a human being went far beyond his excellence as an actor. Ossie was a citizen of the country, first, and the world. He and his wife were activists and they took it seriously.”