Daniel Davis

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For other people named Daniel Davis, see Daniel Davis (disambiguation).
Daniel Davis
Born (1945-11-26) November 26, 1945 (age 69)
Gurdon, Arkansas, U.S.
Other names Danny Davis
Occupation Actor, Comedian
Years active 1970–2006

Daniel Davis (born November 26, 1945) is an American stage, screen, and television actor known for portraying Niles the butler on the sitcom The Nanny (1993–99), 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 also voices the intelligent Cro Magnon, Longhair from the Longhair and Doubledome cartoon shorts from Cartoon Network's Big Pick.


Davis was born in Gurdon, Arkansas. His parents operated a movie theater. His first acting job was at the age of 11, when he was cast on a local Little Rock broadcast program called Betty's Little Rascals.[1] Davis graduated from Hall High School in Little Rock in 1963. He studied at the Arkansas Arts Center, followed by work with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and six years with the American Conservatory Theatre; during his time at ACT, he also taught acting.


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 through December 1981. In 1985, he played a renegade soldier in the Season 4 episode of the television series The A-Team "The Doctor is Out".

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, whom Niles eventually fell in love with and married in the series' last season.

Davis' natural accent is Southern American;[2] 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' voice role for Longhair uses 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.[3] 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.)[4]

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.[5]

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,[6] and has appeared at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[7]

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.[8]

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 (play)|La Cage aux Folles]] in 2004, George Bernard Shaw in The Frogs, also in 2004.[9]



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