Ossie Davis, an American actor, director, poet, playwright, writer
and social activist, was born Raiford Chatman Davis in Cogdell,
Following the wishes of his parents, he attended Howard University
but dropped out in 1939 to pursue his acting career in New York.
He later attended Columbia University's School of General Studies.
His acting career spans seven decades, beginning in 1939 with the
Rose McClendon Players in Harlem.
Since Davis did not want to play stereotypical subservient roles,
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 butler, he tried to inject the role with a certain degree of
dignity. He was one of a handful of African American actors able
to find commercial success while avoiding stereotypical roles prior
to 1970, which also included a significant role in the 1965 movie
“The Hill.” In addition to acting, Davis was one of the notable
African American directors of his generation.