Actor Daniel Davis

Daniel Davis (born November 26, 1945) is an American stage, screen, and television actor.

Davis is best known for portraying Niles the butler on the sitcom The Nanny (1993 to 1999), and for his two guest appearances as Professor Moriarty on Star Trek: The Next Generation, affecting an upper class English accent for both roles. He voices the intelligent Cro-Magnon, Longhair, from the Longhair and Doubledome cartoon shorts from Cartoon Network’s Big Pick.

Life and career

Davis was born in Gurdon, Arkansas, and grew up in Little Rock. His parents operated a cinema. His first acting job was at the age of 11, when he was cast in a local broadcast program, Betty’s Little Rascals.

Davis graduated from Hall High School in Little Rock in 1963. He graduated from the Arkansas Arts Center with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, followed by work with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and six years with the American Conservatory Theater (ACT). During his time at ACT, he taught acting classes.


Davis first became popular in daytime television playing opposite Beverlee McKinsey as her character Iris Cory’s former (and presumed dead) husband, Elliot Carrington, on the soap opera Texas, a spin-off of Another World, from October 1980 to December 1981. In 1985, he played a renegade soldier in the Season 4 episode, “The Doctor is Out”, of the television series The A-Team.

Davis played his most famous character, Niles the Butler, on the television series The Nanny throughout its run from 1993 to 1999 and in its reunion special in 2004 (in cameo flashbacks only). Niles was known for his frequent use of deadpan one-liners, usually insulting character C. C. Babcock, with whom Niles eventually fell in love and married in the series’ last season.

Davis’ natural accent is Southern American; however, his English accent as Niles was so accurate that many viewers have been convinced that Davis actually is English. He also used an English accent as Professor Moriarty in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes “Elementary, Dear Data” and “Ship in a Bottle”. However, as the commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October, Davis spoke with his own American accent. Davis’ cartoon voice for the afore-mentioned Longhair character used a British accent.

In 2000, Davis was nominated for a Best Actor Tony Award for his role in David Hirson’s Broadway play Wrong Mountain. In 2003, he appeared in the Alan Bennett play Talking Heads. In 2004, he portrayed George Bernard Shaw in the Stephen Sondheim musical The Frogs. He co-starred in La Cage Aux Folles with Gary Beach from November 2004 to March 2005. (Reportedly, he clashed frequently with Beach and others. He was eventually replaced by Robert Goulet.)

In 2002, Davis guest-starred on the television series Frasier, playing Dr. Shafer in Season 10, Episode 8, “Rooms with a View”.

Davis was among the group of celebrities lip-synching to the Bee Gees’ Stayin’ Alive on the “Idol Gives Back” episode of American Idol on April 25, 2007. He appeared briefly in the 2006 film The Prestige, directed by Christopher Nolan.

In July 2008, Davis portrayed King Lear at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, under the direction of Bonnie J. Monte. That year he also guest-starred on the television series Ugly Betty.

In November 2010, Davis was part of the Celebrity Autobiography series at the Long Center in Austin, Texas. He performed along with fellow Nanny alum Lauren Lane and Ugly Betty alum Michael Urie.

In December 2010, he guested on The Fran Drescher Show through Skype.

In 2012, he recorded the audiobook of the Star Wars novel Star Wars: Darth Plagueis, by James Luceno.


Davis is an established theatre actor. He has appeared in both Broadway and off-Broadway productions in New York, and has appeared at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Off-Broadway, he played Rubin in Lake No Bottom in 1990, the Duke of Buckingham in The Tragedy of Richard III, Graham in the Alan Bennett monologue “A Chip in the Sugar” for the series Talking Heads in 2003, and he starred as Gaev in The Cherry Orchard in 2011.

On Broadway, he played Antonio Salieri in Amadeus in 1980, Maurice Montesor in Wrong Mountain in 2000, Oscar Wilde in The Invention of Love in 2001, Georges in La Cage aux Folles in 2004, George Bernard Shaw in The Frogs, also in 2004.

In 2007, Davis was a member of the cast of an audio production of the play Blue/Orange, in which he took the part of Dr. Robert Smith.

In 2012, he played Prospero in The Tempest at Hartford Stage.

In 2016, he appeared on Broadway as Selsdon Mowbray in the Roundabout Theatre revival of Noises Off at the American Airlines Theatre.


  • Film
  • Year Title Role Notes
    1970 The Sidelong Glances of a Pigeon Kicker Skinny Uncredited
    1985 Chain Letters Steve
    1986 Blind Justice Attorney Seth Thompson TV Movie
    1989 K-9 Halstead
    1990 The Hunt for Red October Captain Davenport
    1990 Havana Marion Chigwell
    2005 Thru the Moebius Strip Arthur Voice
    2006 The Prestige Judge
    2018 Roses are Blind Addison Spelling

  • TV
  • Year Title Role Notes
    1974 Great Performances Moulineaux 1 episode
    1980–81 Texas Eliot Carrington 71 episodes
    1983 Hardcastle and McCormick Joe Kello Episode: “The Day the Music Died”
    1984 Cagney & Lacey Arthur Cole 1 episode
    1984 Highway to Heaven Lance Gaylord Episode: “Catch a Falling Star”
    1985 Remington Steele Pierre Fumar Episode: “Gourmet Steele”
    1985 Scarecrow and Mrs. King Robert Castille and Tony Martinet Episodes: “Vigilante Mothers” and “All the World’s a Stage”
    1985 The A-Team Phillips 1 episode
    1985 The Eagle and the Bear Underhill TV Movie
    1986 George Washington II: The Forging of a Nation Patrick Henry TV Movie
    1986 Matlock James Billings Episode: “The Professor”
    1986 Cheers Mr. Reinhardt Episode: “The Peterson Principle”
    1986 Tall Tales & Legends Congressman 1 episode
    1987 Dynasty Harry Thresher Season 8 – 5 Episodes: “The New Moguls”, “The Spoiler”, “Images”, “The Rifle”, & “The Scandal”
    1987 The Spirit Simon Teasdale TV Movie
    1988 Frank’s Place Arnold David Tuney 1 episode
    1988 The Equalizer Eddie Mason 1 episode
    1988 What Price Victory Trainer TV Movie
    1988-93 Star Trek: The Next Generation Professor James Moriarty Episodes: “Elementary, Dear Data” and “Ship in a Bottle”
    1989 MacGyver Mr. Helman / Nicholas Helman Episode: “Halloween Knights”
    1991 Palomino Doctor TV Movie
    1991 She Stood Alone Parker Elsworth TV Movie
    1991 The Perfect Tribute Gov. Curtin TV Movie
    1992 Columbo Alex Varrick / Wedding photographer Episode: “No Time to Die”
    1992 Civil Wars Harvey Gutfruend Episode: “Tape Fear”
    1992 L.A. Law C. Howard Grady Episode: “Love in Bloom”
    1992 Murder, She Wrote Neal Dishman Episode: “Badge of Honor”
    1993–99 The Nanny Niles 145 episodes
    1996 Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Lugo 1 episode
    1996 Adventures from the Book of Virtues The Horse / Schoolmaster Dobbins 1 episode
    1997 Duckman Rodney 1 episode
    1997 Remember WENN Desmond Quist 1 episode
    1999 Rugrats Conan McNulty / Wrestler TV Series Short; 1 episode
    2000 The Practice Judge Barton Wolfe Episodes: “Summary Judgment”, “Germ Warfare” and “Appeal and Denial”
    2000 Longhair and Doubledome Longhair Failed pilot; voice only
    2002 Frasier Dr Shafer Episode: “Rooms With A View (Part 2)”
    2008 Ugly Betty Dr. Morgan Remus Guest, Episode: “Burning Questions”
    2010 The Fran Drescher Show Himself Guest
    2015 Gotham Jacob Skolimski Episode: “Under the Knife”
    2017 The Blacklist Baldur Magnusson Episode: “Natalie Luca [#184]”
    2019 Elementary Antoine LaGrange Episode: “The Price of Admission”
    2019 The Good Fight Professor Harrison 1 episode

    External Links

    Actor Daniel Davis – Wikipedia

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