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Robert Creel Davis (November 6, 1949 – September 8, 1991), known professionally as Brad Davis, was an American actor, known for starring in the 1978 film Midnight Express, Chariots of Fire and the 1982 film Querelle.

Early life

He was born in Tallahassee, Florida to Eugene Davis, a dentist whose career declined due to alcoholism, and his wife, Anne (née Creel) Davis. His brother Gene is also an actor. According to an article in The New York Times published in 1987, Davis suffered physical abuse and sexual abuse at the hands of both parents. As an adult, he was an alcoholic and an intravenous drug user, then became sober in 1981.[1] Davis was known as Bobby during his youth, but took Brad as his stage name in 1973.[1] Davis attended and graduated from Titusville High School.

Career

At 16, after winning a music-talent contest, Davis worked at Theater Atlanta. He later moved to New York City and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and the American Place Theater where he studied acting. After a role on the soap opera How to Survive a Marriage, he performed in Off-Broadway plays.

In 1976, he was cast in the television mini-series Roots, then as Sally Field's love interest in the television film Sybil. In 1981, he played American track star Jackson Scholz in the Academy Award-winning film Chariots of Fire. He played the lead role in The Normal Heart (1985), Larry Kramer's play about AIDS. His most successful film role was as the main character Billy Hayes in Midnight Express (1978), for which he won the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Acting Debut – Actor. He was nominated for a similar award at that year's BAFTA Awards, in addition to receiving Best Actor nominations at both ceremonies (Richard Dreyfuss won for The Goodbye Girl).[2]

Personal life

Davis married Susan Bluestein, an Emmy Award-winning casting director, in 1976. They had one child, Alex Blue Davis, a musician and actor on Grey’s Anatomy.[1][3]

Death

Diagnosed with HIV in 1985, Davis kept his condition a secret until shortly before his death at age 41 on September 8, 1991 in Los Angeles. It was revealed in a book proposal that Davis had written before his death that he had to keep his medical condition a secret to be able to continue to work and support his family.[4] He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills).[5] Later, his wife Susan revealed that he committed assisted suicide by a drug overdose.[6][7]

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1976 Eat My Dust! Uncredited
1976 Song of Myself Streetcar Conductor Short film
1976 The Secret Life of Ol' John Chapman Andy TV Movie
1978 Midnight Express Billy Hayes Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Ro

He was born in Tallahassee, Florida to Eugene Davis, a dentist whose career declined due to alcoholism, and his wife, Anne (née Creel) Davis. His brother Gene is also an actor. According to an article in The New York Times published in 1987, Davis suffered physical abuse and sexual abuse at the hands of both parents. As an adult, he was an alcoholic and an intravenous drug user, then became sober in 1981.[1] Davis was known as Bobby during his youth, but took Brad as his stage name in 1973.[1] Davis attended and graduated from Titusville High School.

Career

At 16, after winning a music-talent contest, Davis worked at Theater Atlanta. He later moved to New York City and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and the American Place Theater where he studied acting. After a role on the soap opera How to Survive a Marriage, he performed in Off-Broadway plays.

In 1976, he was cast in the television mini-series Roots, then as Sally Field's love interest in the television film Sybil. In 1981, he played American track star Jackson Scholz in the Academy Award-winning film Chariots of Fire. He played the lead role in The Normal Heart (1985), Larry Kramer's play about AIDS. His most successful film role was as the main character Billy Hayes in Midnight Express (1978), for which he won the Golden Globe Award for New Star

At 16, after winning a music-talent contest, Davis worked at Theater Atlanta. He later moved to New York City and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and the American Place Theater where he studied acting. After a role on the soap opera How to Survive a Marriage, he performed in Off-Broadway plays.

In 1976, he was cast in the television mini-series Roots, then as Sally Field's love interest in the television film Roots, then as Sally Field's love interest in the television film Sybil. In 1981, he played American track star Jackson Scholz in the Academy Award-winning film Chariots of Fire. He played the lead role in The Normal Heart (1985), Larry Kramer's play about AIDS. His most successful film role was as the main character Billy Hayes in Midnight Express (1978), for which he won the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Acting Debut – Actor. He was nominated for a similar award at that year's BAFTA Awards, in addition to receiving Best Actor nominations at both ceremonies (Richard Dreyfuss won for The Goodbye Girl).[2]

Davis married Susan Bluestein, an Emmy Award-winning casting director, in 1976. They had one child, Alex Blue Davis, a musician and actor on Grey’s Anatomy.[1][3]

Death

Diagnosed with Diagnosed with HIV in 1985, Davis kept his condition a secret until shortly before his death at age 41 on September 8, 1991 in Los Angeles. It was revealed in a book proposal that Davis had written before his death that he had to keep his medical condition a secret to be able to continue to work and support his family.[4] He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills).[5] Later, his wife Susan revealed that he committed assisted suicide by a drug overdose.[6][7]

Filmography