Actor Brad Davis

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. Davis was known as Bobby during his youth, but took Brad as his stage name in 1973. Davis attended and graduated from Titusville High School.


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 1977 he was cast as John Rambo in First Blood when John Frankenheimer was scheduled to direct the film before it was cancelled due to Orion Pictures’ acquisition of Filmways. 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).

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.


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. He is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills). Later, his wife Susan revealed that he committed assisted suicide by a drug overdose.



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 Role
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
1980 A Small Circle of Friends Leonardo da Vinci Rizzo
1980 The Greatest Man in the World Jimmy Schmurch TV Movie
1980 A Rumor of War Lt. Philip ‘Phil’ Caputo TV Movie
1981 Chariots of Fire Jackson Scholz
1982 Querelle Querelle
1984 Terror in the Aisles Himself
1986 Blood Ties Julian Salina TV Movie
1986 Vengeance: The Story of Tony Cimo Tony Cimo TV Movie
1987 When the Time Comes Dean TV Movie
1987 Heart Eddie
1987 Cold Steel Johnny Modine
1988 The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial Lt. Cmdr. Phillip Francis Queeg TV Movie
1989 Rosalie Goes Shopping Ray “Liebling” Greenspace
1989 The Rainbow Warrior Conspiracy Neil Travers TV Movie
1989 The Edge Kenny TV Movie
1990 Unspeakable Acts Joseph Braga TV Movie
1990 The Plot to Kill Hitler Count Claus von Stauffenberg TV Movie
1991 Hangfire Sheriff Ike Slayton Alternative title: First Blood Commando
1991 Child of Darkness, Child of Light Dr. Phinney TV Movie
1992 The Habitation of Dragons George Tolliver TV Movie screened posthumously
1992 The Player Himself Non-speaking cameo released posthumously


Year Title Role Notes
1974 How to Survive a Marriage Alexander Kronos Unknown episodes
1976 The American Parade Streetcar conductor Episode: “Song of Myself”
1976 The American Parade Thomas Nast Episode: “Stop Thief”
1976 Sybil Richard J. Loomis 2 episodes
1977 Roots Ol’ George Johnson 2 episodes
1977 Baretta Ray Episode: “Guns and Brothers”
1981 BBC2 Playhouse Young American Episode: “Mrs. Reinhardt”
1983 Chiefs Sonny Butts 2 episodes
1985 Robert Kennedy & His Times Robert F. Kennedy 3 Episodes, miniseries
1985 The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents Arthur Episode: “Arthur, or the Gigolo”
1986 The Twilight Zone Arthur Lewis Episode: “Button, Button”
1987 The Hitchhiker Jerry Rulac Episode: “Why Are You Here?”

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1978 Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actor Midnight Express Won
1979 BAFTA Awards Best Actor in a Leading Role Nominated
Best Newcomer Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Nominated
New Star of the Year – Actor Won

External Links

Actor Brad Davis – Wikipedia

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