Ossie Davis


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his over two-hour Archive interview, Ossie Davis (1917-2005) speaks of his early years as an actor starting out in the theater. He discusses his early television appearances on Showtime U.S.A.: "Green Pastures" (1951), Kraft Television Theatre: "The Emperor Jones" (1955), and CBS Television Workshop: "Brown Girl, Brownstones" (1960).  He speaks of writing and starring in the play "Purlie Victorious" and its feature film adaptation.  He discusses his many acting roles on stage, in the movies, and on television in such series as The Defenders, the Hallmark Hall of Fame, and Evening Shade and the miniseries King and Roots: The Next Generations.  He also discusses his work as a film director, beginning with Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970).  He speaks of his collaborations with his wife of many years Ruby Dee, including their radio show With Ossie and Ruby (1981-82). Harold Dow conducted the interview in New Rochelle, NY on October 26, 1999.

"Art has a deep responsibility, social, cultural, and otherwise. And that the basic motivation for the creation of art is, in a sense, to meet those responsibilities. Now, it doesn't mean that you cannot express yourself in any way you want to, but it takes place in a social context, whether you mean it to do so or not."

Highlights
Ossie Davis on the impact Roots had: "Roots helped supply America with a truer definition of who black people were than any other work that had come along"
04:23
Ossie Davis on the effect of the Blacklist on him and fellow performers and on being called to testify at the HUAC
07:09
Ossie Davis on the creative freedom he and Ruby Dee had on their PBS series With Ossie & Ruby
01:49
Ossie Davis on advice he would give aspiring actors and playwrights
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early years and influences; on the racism he experienced as a youth; on his education

Chapter 2

On his early acting career; on his participation in Civil Rights; on his success in New York

Chapter 3

On the first time he saw television; on his first appearances on television; on working in live television at NBC; on the Blacklist; on the Civil Rights Movement
29:20

Chapter 4

On Ossie and Ruby; on Roots and its impact; on the importance and reach of television; on some of his guest appearances on television, on writing a script for East Side/West Side; on co-starring in The Outsiders; on directing Cotton Comes to Harlem; on meeting Ruby Dee

Chapter 5

On his advice to aspiring writers; on how he would like to be remembered
Shows

Car 54, Where Are You?

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Ossie Davis briefly on appearing on Car 54, Where Are You?
00:31

East Side/West Side

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Ossie Davis briefly on writing an episode of East Side/West Side
00:50

Fugitive, The

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Ossie Davis briefly on appearing on The Fugitive
00:49

Outsider, The

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Ossie Davis on his groundbreaking role in The Outsider
01:22

Roots

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Ossie Davis on the impact Roots had: "Roots helped supply America with a truer definition of who black people were than any other work that had come along"
06:01

Run For Your Life

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Ossie Davis briefly on appearing in three episodes of Run for your Life
00:43

With Ossie & Ruby

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Ossie Davis on the creative freedom he and Ruby Dee had on their PBS series With Ossie & Ruby
01:49
Topics

1939-40 World's Fair

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Ossie Davis on seeing television for the first time at the World's Fair
04:22

Civil Rights Movement

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Ossie Davis on participating in the Civil Rights Movement
06:31

Diversity in Television

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Ossie Davis on participating in the Civil Rights Movement
06:31

Historic Events and Social Change

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Ossie Davis on participating in the Civil Rights Movement
06:31
Ossie Davis on seeing television for the first time at the World's Fair
04:22

Hollywood Blacklist

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Ossie Davis on the effect of the Blacklist on him and fellow performers and on being called to testify at the HUAC
07:09

Industry Crossroads

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Ossie Davis on the effect of the Blacklist on him and fellow performers and on being called to testify at the HUAC
07:09

Minorities

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Ossie Davis on participating in the Civil Rights Movement
06:31
Ossie Davis on the impact Roots had: "Roots helped supply America with a truer definition of who black people were than any other work that had come along"
04:23

Television Industry

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Ossie Davis on the effect of the Blacklist on him and fellow performers and on being called to testify at the HUAC
07:09

We Considered

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Ossie Davis on the impact Roots had: "Roots helped supply America with a truer definition of who black people were than any other work that had come along"
04:23
Professions

Writers

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Ossie Davis on his advice to aspiring writers
03:42
Genres

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Ossie Davis on the impact Roots had: "Roots helped supply America with a truer definition of who black people were than any other work that had come along"
04:23
People

Michael Landon

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Ossie Davis on Michael Landon's legacy
01:11

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