Actor Ossie Davis, Dead at 87

(antiTainment) Veteran actor and civil rights activist Ossie Davis died Friday at the age of 87. 

Davis was found dead in his Miami, Florida hotel room on Friday. Davis was in Miami shooting the film "Retirement". 

Davis spent over five decades in show business and was recognized as "a distinguished and highly respected performer". All Movie Guide called Davis "an influential and versatile actor, director, producer, screenwriter, playwright, and historian." 

Davis began his profession show business career in 1946 with a part in the Broadway production of "Jeb Turner." Although the show did not have a long run it would introduce Davis to his future personal and professional partner Ruby Dee. The couple would later co-host a radio and television show together. 

Davis made his mark in the 50 and 60s both on the silver screen as well as television and theatre. In 1961, Davis wrote the hit Broadway musical "Purlie Victorious".  The show was such a success that Davis adapted it into a screenplay and stared in the movie (renamed "Gone Are Days") he won great acclaim. 

1970 saw Davis expend his professional credentials with the addition of directing when he adapted Chester Hime's "Cotton Comes to Harlem" to the big screen. Davis not only directed the film but also wrote the screenplay and the music. 

Despite his distinguished career in show business, Davis is also known for efforts as a civil rights activist and humanitarian.  It was Davis who was called on to eulogize Malcolm X (Davis reenacted his eulogy for Spike Lee's 1992 film about X).  Davis also merged both worlds in the 70s when he founded the production company Third World Cinema, which was established to help African-American and Puerto Rican filmmakers.

Davis' efforts in civil rights and show business have been recognized by various organizations. Last year, he and his wife were selected to receive the Kennedy Center Honors. According to All Movie Guide, " Davis and his wife have been inducted into the NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame, the Theater Hall of Fame, and in the mid-'90s, received the National Medal of Arts Award from President Bill Clinton." 

The Screen Actors Guild honored Davis with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. 

Click here to visit the All Movie Guide to learn more about Davis and to view his filmography. 

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