Ossie Davis

Ossie Davis

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Ossie Davis

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Ossie Davis (December 18, 1917 – February 4, 2005) was an American film actor, director, poet, playwright, writer, and social activist.

Early years

Davis was born Raiford Chatman Davis in Cogdell, Clinch County, Georgia, a son of Kince Charles Davis, a railway construction engineer, and his wife Laura (née Cooper). Davis experienced racism from an early age as the KKK threatened to shoot his father, whose job they felt was too advanced for a black man to have. Following the wishes of his parents, he attended Howard University but dropped out in 1939 to fulfill his acting career in New York; he later attended Columbia University School of General Studies. His acting career, which spanned seven decades, began in 1939 with the Rose McClendon Players in Harlem. 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.

Career

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...
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