Davis, Ossie

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Ossie Davis is an actor, playwright and director who has performed for stage, film and television, and specializes in film production relating to black culture and history. Born in 1919 in Cogdell, Georgia, Davis attended Howard University from 1938 to 1941. His theater career began in the early 1940's with such plays to his credit as "Anna Lucasta," "No Time for Sergeants," "A Raisin in the Sun," and "Purlie Victorious." Three of the many films he acted in are "The Joe Louis Story," "The Slaves," and most recently, Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing." Davis co-scripted and co-directed "Cotton Comes to Harlem." He has been acting in television programs and been doing specials since 1951, often with his wife, the actress Ruby Dee.

Ruby Dee was born in 1923 in Cleveland, Ohio and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1945 from Hunter College. She served as an apprentice with the American Negro Theatre from 1941-1944. Her interests include writing and black history and culture. She debuted in 1943 in "South Pacific," and acted in Shakespearean plays, among others. Her films include "The Jackie Robinson Story," "St. Louis Blues," and "A Raisin in the Sun." Dee's long list of television credits include "Peyton Place," "To Be Young, Gifted and Black," and "The Fight Against Slavery.".

From the guide to the Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee drama collection, 1951-1981, 1970-1979, (The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.)

Pioneering African-American writer, actress and director Alice Childress (1916-1994) was popularly known for her best-selling novel, "A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich," and her plays, most notably "Wedding Band: A Love Story in Black and White." In the 1930s she met and married Alvin Childress, best known for his role as Amos in the television series, "Amos and Andy. "She was a founding member of the American Negro Theatre, and in 1944 she and her husband Alvin appeared in "Anna Lucasta," alongside lead actress Hilda Simms. When the play went to Broadway, and Childress received a TONY nomination for "Best Supporting Actress.".

Although she continued to act, Childress began writing plays in the late 1940s. Her first play, "Florence," appeared in 1949, and a year later, she adapted Langston Hughes' novel, "Simple Speaks His Mind" into the play, "Just a Little Simple." Her plays include "Gold Through the Trees," the first play by a black woman produced in the United States, and "Trouble in Mind," in 1955, which received an OBIE for Best Off-Broadway Play; the first black woman to receive that honor. Childress's first book, "Like One of the Family: Conversations from a Domestic's Life," vignettes that were first published in a column "Conversation from Life," in Paul Robeson's "Freedom" newspaper, was published a year later. She subsequently republished the vignettes in the "Baltimore Afro-American." During this time she divorced Alvin Childress and married musician Nathan (Nat) Woodard in 1957.

Childress's play, "Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White," was produced in 1966 and in 1972, at the New York Shakespeare Festival Theatre. Her other plays produced during the 1960s included "String," "Wine in the Wilderness," and "Young Martin Luther King." Her award-winning children's book, "A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich," was published in 1973, and was made into a film in 1975. Throughout the following decades, Childress's wrote a number of plays which were produced in various venues across the country, ("Gullah," "Let's Hear It for the Queen," "Mojo," "Moms: A Praise Play for a Black Comedienne," and "When the Rattlesnake Sounds"), published a novel, ("A Short Walk"), a collection of scenes, ("Black Scenes"), and two children's books, ("Rainbow Jordan" and "Those Other People").

From the guide to the Alice Childress papers, 1937-1997, (The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Lucy Kroll Papers, 1908-1998, (bulk 1950-1990) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn New York Shakespeare Festival. Press Office Records, 1957-1991 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Guide to the James E. Jackson and Esther Cooper Jackson Photographs Collection, 1910-1995 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Papers of Holly Near, 1967-1994 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Milton Rogovin Papers, 1928-2006, (bulk 1960-2003) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn J. B. Matthews Papers, 1862-1986 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn James A. Emanuel Papers, 1922-1995, (bulk 1960-1995) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Black Panther printed ephemera, ca., 1966-2006. Houghton Library
referencedIn Guide to the Daily Worker and Daily World Photographs Collection, 1920-2001 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Lucille Lortel papers, 1902-2000 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Guide to the James E. Jackson and Esther Cooper Jackson Papers, 1917-2018 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Lothar and Eva Just Film Stills Collection. Harvard Film Archive, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Alix Jeffry additional papers, 1935-1993. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Kim Hunter scripts and rehearsal notes, 1957-1993 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Papers of Shirley Graham Du Bois, 1865-1998 (inclusive), 1905-1975 (bulk) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Bobbye S. Ortiz Papers, (bulk, 1919-1993 and undated, 1950-1990) David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn Maurice Evans papers, 1934-1970 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Frederic Ewen Papers, Bulk, 1940-1970, 1915-1988, (Bulk 1940-1970) Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn William Styron Papers, 1855-2007 David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn Guide to the Daily Worker and Daily World Negatives Collection, 1930-2001 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn M. Moran Weston Papers, 1824-1994 Columbia University. Rare Book an Manuscript Library
referencedIn Julian Mayfield papers, 1949-1984 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
referencedIn New York Times Company records. A.M. Rosenthal papers, 1955-1994, 1967-1986 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee drama collection, 1951-1981, 1970-1979 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
creatorOf Alice Childress papers, 1937-1997 The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.
referencedIn Frederic Ewen Audiotape and Videotape Collection, 1954-1990 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Frederic Ewen Papers, Bulk, 1940-1970, 1915-1988, (Bulk 1940-1970) Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf The HistoryMakers Video Oral History with Ossie Davis The HistoryMakers
Relation Name
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associatedWith Brown, Janet, 1952- person
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associatedWith Caldwell, Ben person
associatedWith Childress, Alice person
associatedWith Childress, Alvin, -1986 person
associatedWith Clarke, John Henrik, 1915-1998 person
associatedWith Communist Party of the United States of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Courlander, Harold, 1908-1996 person
associatedWith Dee, Ruby person
associatedWith Dodson, Owen, 1914- person
associatedWith Duberman, Martin B person
associatedWith DuBois, Rachel Davis person
associatedWith Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963 person
correspondedWith Emanuel, James A. person
associatedWith Evans, Don, 1938- person
associatedWith Evans, Maurice, 1901-1989 person
associatedWith Ewen, Frederic, 1899- person
associatedWith Ffolkes, David person
associatedWith Franklin, Alyce person
associatedWith Fuller, Hoyt, 1923-1981 person
associatedWith Hansberry, Lorraine, 1930-1965 person
associatedWith Harris, Trudier person
associatedWith Haynes, Hilda, 1912-1986 person
associatedWith Hay, Samuel A person
correspondedWith Holly Near, 1949- person
associatedWith Hovey, Serge person
associatedWith Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967 person
associatedWith Hunter, Kim, 1922-2002 person
associatedWith Jackson, Esther Cooper person
associatedWith Jackson, James E., 1914-2007 person
associatedWith Jeffry, Alix. person
associatedWith Jessye, Eva, 1895- person
associatedWith Killens, John O., 1916- person
associatedWith Koppleman, Susan person
associatedWith Kroll, Lucy. person
associatedWith Lattery, Kristen Hunter, 1931- person
associatedWith Lortel, Lucille person
associatedWith Marshall, Paule, 1929- person
associatedWith Martin, Helen, 1909-2000 person
associatedWith Matthews, J. B. (Joseph Brown), 1894-1966 person
associatedWith Mayfield, Julian, 1928- person
associatedWith Mitchell, Loften person
associatedWith Murphy, Carl, 1889-1967 person
associatedWith National Rainbow Coalition (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith New York Shakespeare Festival corporateBody
associatedWith Olson, Tillie, 1912-2007 person
associatedWith Ortiz, Bobbye S. person
associatedWith Papp, Joseph. person
associatedWith Patterson, Louise Thompson, 1901-1999 person
associatedWith Poitier, Sidney person
associatedWith Rainbow Coaltion. Roosevelt Island Chapter (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Roberts, Flora person
associatedWith Robeson, Eslanda Goode, 1896-1965 person
associatedWith Robeson, Paul, 1898-1976 person
correspondedWith Rogovin, Milton, 1909-2011 person
associatedWith Rosenthal, A. M. (Abraham Michael), 1922-2006 person
associatedWith Saddler, Donald person
associatedWith Scott, Hazel person
associatedWith Shearer, Jacqueline person
associatedWith Shine, Ted person
associatedWith SHIRLEY GRAHAM DU BOIS, 1896-1977 person
associatedWith Shockely, Ann Allen, 1927- person
associatedWith Snyder, Anne person
associatedWith Soyinka, Wole person
associatedWith Styron, William person
associatedWith Taylor, Clarice, 1927-2011 person
associatedWith Walcott, Derek person
associatedWith Wallace, Emmett Babe, 1909- person
associatedWith Ward, Theodore, 1902-1983 person
associatedWith Washington, Mary Helen person
associatedWith Weston, M. Moran, 1910- person
associatedWith Wideman, John Edgar person
associatedWith Woodard, Nathan person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Soviet Union
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
New Rochelle (N.Y.)
Cogdell (Ga.)
Subject
African American actresses
African American actors
Occupation
Screenwriter
Stage Actor
Film Actor
Film Director
Activity

Person

Birth 19171218

Death 20050204

Information

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