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Clifton Davis

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Clifton Davis
Davis in 1998
Clifton Duncan Davis

(1945-10-04) October 4, 1945 (age 78)
  • Actor
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • minister
  • author
Years active1971–present
Known forThat's My Mama, Amen
  • Ann Taylor
    (m. 1981⁠–⁠1991)
  • Monica Durant
    (m. 2000)

Clifton Duncan Davis (born October 4, 1945) is an American actor, singer, songwriter, minister, and author.

Davis wrote The Jackson 5's No. 2 hit "Never Can Say Goodbye" in 1971. He has numerous Broadway credits, including Hello, Dolly! (opposite Pearl Bailey); Aladdin; Wicked; and his Tony Award–nominated turn in Two Gentlemen of Verona, among others.[1] Davis starred in the television shows That's My Mama, Amen, Madam Secretary, and others. He has hosted the Stellar Gospel Music Awards, Gospel Superfest and Lifestyle Magazine. Davis has appeared on the game shows Match Game and Pyramid and appeared in many movies.

Davis is a minister of a Baptist church and has also operated an interdenominational ministry for many years. He has been a guest on the Trinity Broadcasting Network many times. Davis wrote "A Mason-Dixon Memory", one of the chapters in the book Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, about the racism that he experienced while growing up.[2]

Early life[edit]

Davis was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Thelma van Putten Langhorn, a nurse, and Toussaint L'Ouverture Davis, a Seventh-day Adventist minister. He was raised in Mastic, New York, and he is a graduate of Pine Forge Academy, a Black boarding school operated by the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Davis holds a BA in Theology from Oakwood University and a Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University.[3]


Davis in a club

Before becoming a successful actor Davis was a songwriter who wrote The Jackson 5's No. 2 hit "Never Can Say Goodbye."

He made his Broadway debut in the mid-1960s as a replacement in the original Broadway production of Hello, Dolly! In 1969, he replaced Cleavon Little in the role of Lee Haines in Jimmy Shine, opposite Dustin Hoffman and Rue McClanahan. The following year, he served as standby for Al Freeman, Jr. in the short-lived Broadway play Look to the Lillies, followed by a featured role in The Engagement Baby.[4] He created the role of Valentine in Galt MacDermot and John Guare's musical Two Gentlemen of Verona, based on the eponymous Shakespeare comedy.[5][6] For this production, he was nominated for a 1972 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical.[7] He left the Broadway production on November 27, 1972,[8] to open the touring company in January 1973.[9] He played the role of Joey Evans in the 1978 West Coast Revival of Pal Joey, which was called Pal Joey '78.[10] He returned to Broadway in 2014, creating the role of the Sultan in the stage adaptation of Disney's Aladdin.[11] In 2022, Davis joined the Broadway company of Wicked, playing Dr. Dillamond, a role he had previously played in the show's two separate touring companies.[12] He has amassed several Off-Broadway credits as well, including How to Steal an Election (1968), Horseman, Pass By (1969), Lorraine Hansberry's To Be Young, Gifted, and Black (1969), Do It Again! (1971), and Hapgood (1994).[13]

He starred as barber Clifton Curtis in the mid-1970s television show That's My Mama with Theresa Merritt, Theodore Wilson, and Ted Lange.[14]

Davis co-starred with singer and Broadway performer Melba Moore on her musical variety television show. Later he made a guest appearance on the third episode of the first season of The Bobby Vinton Show in September 1975, singing "I've Got the Music in Me" and "Never Can Say Goodbye". He sang the Polish lyrics with Vinton to the show's theme song, titled "My Melody of Love".

A triple heart bypass survivor, Davis participated in the "Superstars" celebrity TV sports competitions of the 1970s as well as made several appearances as one of the celebrity panelists on the game show Match Game. He appeared in the film Scott Joplin, in 1977. Davis made numerous appearances on several incarnations of Pyramid from the early 1970s to the early 1990s.

From 1986 to 1991, Davis co-starred with Sherman Hemsley and Anna Maria Horsford as the Reverend Doctor Ruben Gregory in the sitcom Amen, which ran for five seasons. Davis released one acclaimed studio recording in 1991 on Benson Records titled Say Amen. He also played the mayor of Miami in the 1999 film Any Given Sunday. Davis starred in Toronto and on Broadway in Aladdin, playing the Sultan of Agrabah.[15]


From 1987 to 1989, he was an Associate Pastor of the Loma Linda University Seventh-day Adventist Church in southern California. For the last twenty-five years, Davis has been an active member of Youthville, USA a children's services organization. He served as the co-founder and co-pastor of the Welcome Christian Center in Huntington Beach, California. Davis is a licensed minister at St. Luke Baptist Church, New York, New York. He has had an interdenominational ministry for over 30 years. Davis has served as its National Spokesperson and Advisory Board Chairman.[16] He is the emcee and host of The Most Soulful Sound, an annual gospel choir competition in Raleigh, North Carolina. Davis also hosts an annual celebrity golf tournament in Elizabeth City State University, where he served as its vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement. Since the end of 2005, Davis has held the position of executive director for Welcome America, a non-profit organization located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which hosts the largest Fourth of July celebration in the nation each year. He is a frequent guest and host on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. Davis also hosted the TV show Gospel Superfest from 2000 to 2008, syndicated by United Television.[17]



Year Title Role Notes
1972 Together for Days Gus
1974 Lost in the Stars Absalom
1977 Scott Joplin Louis Chauvin
1994 Heart of Stone Richard Polite
1999 Any Given Sunday Mayor Tyrone Smalls
2001 Kingdom Come Charles Winslow
Max Keeble's Big Move Supt. Bobby 'Crazy Legs' Knebworth
The Painting Thomas Ayers
2002 The Climb Cheryl's Dad
2006 The Engagement: My Phamily BBQ 2 Uncle Joe
2007 Cover D.A. Simmons
2012 David E. Talbert's What My Husband Doesn't Know Franklin
2013 God's Amazing Grace... Is Just A Prayer Away Wilbert Richardson
2016 Prayer Never Fails Michael Brown
2020 A Shot Through the Wall Deputy Chief Bill Walker
2022 We Are Gathered Here Today Joe Wyatt


Year Title Role Notes
1971 A World Apart Matt Hampton 2 episodes
1972 The Melba Moore-Clifton Davis Show Co-host Series
1973 Love Story James Monroe Episode "A Glow of Dying Embers"
1973, 1977 Police Story Mark Randolph /
Ed Webber
Episodes: "The Ho Chi Minh Trail" & "The Malflores"
1974 The Wide World of Mystery Saxon Episode: "Legacy of Blood"
1974–1975 That's My Mama Clifton Curtis 39 episodes
1977 Little Ladies of the Night Comfort TV movie
1978 Superdome P.K. Jackson TV movie
Cindy Captain Joe Prince TV movie
1979 Vega$ Leon Hazlett Episode: "The Eleventh Event"
1980 The Love Boat Mr. Reeves Episode: "Invisible Maniac"
The Littlest Hobo Phil McLean Episode: "Licence to Steal"
The Night the City Screamed Arnold Clements TV movie
1981 Don't Look Back: The Story of Leroy 'Satchel' Paige Cool Papa Bell TV movie
1986–1991 Amen Reverend Reuben Gregory 110 episodes
1989 Dream Date Bill Fairview TV movie
1990–1994 Stellar Gospel Music Awards Co-host Specials
1993 The John Larroquette Show Jada Sweet Episode: "Pros and Cons"
1996 The Jamie Foxx Show Charles Episode: "Seems Like Old Times"
1997 Living Single Harrison Cushmore Episode: "Mother Inferior"
Sparks Pastor Alexander Episode: "It's the Gospel"
Malcolm & Eddie Leonard Larson Episode: "Club Story"
Party of Five Martin Wilcox Episode: "Point of No Return"
Grace Under Fire Dr. Swanson Episode: "Sam's Dad"
The Sentinel President Lemec Episode: "Fool Me Twice"
The Gregory Hines Show Pauley's Father Episode: "Three's Not Company"
1998 Any Day Now Councilman Lyle Hammond Episode: "No Comment"
1999 In the House Ted Miller 2 episodes
2000 City of Angels Dr. Langston Ellis Episode: "Bride and Prejudice"
Veronica's Closet Brian's Father Episode: "Veronica Checks Out"
2000–2008 Gospel Superfest Host
2001 Lifestyle Magazine Host Series
2002 American Dreams Alvin Lewis Episode: "The Home Front"
2004 Half & Half Pastor David Adams Episode: "The Big Practice What You Preach Episode"
Halloweentown High Principal Phil Flannagan TV movie
2012 Political Animals Reporter Episode: "Pilot"
Mr. Box Office Judge Episode: "Pilot"
2013 The First Family Clayton Episode: "The First Triangle"
2015–2019 Madam Secretary Ephraim Ware 42 episodes
2017 Iron Fist Lawrence Wilkins 5 episodes
The Good Fight Anthony Spiegel Episode: "Not So Grand Jury"
2017–2023 Billions Judge Wailand 6 episodes
2018 New Amsterdam Pierre Pampil Episode: "Rituals"
Blue Bloods Inspector Azoulay Episode: "Mind Games"
2019 I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson Jeffrey Carter Episode: "It's the Cigars You Smoke That Are Going to Give You Cancer"
2019–2021 Godfather of Harlem Elijah Muhammad 6 episodes
2023 Survival of the Thickest Emmanuel Episode: "Let It Out, Bitch!"
2024 Clipped Elgin Baylor 4 episodes


  1. ^ "Clifton Davis – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB". ibdb.com. Retrieved August 23, 2023.
  2. ^ "Clifton Davis in Ministry". Archived from the original on August 13, 2010. Retrieved October 16, 2010.
  3. ^ "Clifton Davis – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB". ibdb.com. Retrieved August 23, 2023.
  4. ^ "Two Gentlemen of Verona Broadway @ St. James Theatre - Tickets and Discounts - Playbill". Playbill. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
  5. ^ "Mansion (Two Gentlemen Of Verona/1971 Original Broadway Cast/Remastered)". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
  6. ^ "Two Gentlemen of Verona – Broadway Musical – Original | IBDB". ibdb.com. Retrieved August 23, 2023.
  7. ^ "Two Gentlemen of Verona – Broadway Musical – Original | IBDB". ibdb.com. Retrieved August 23, 2023.
  8. ^ "Two Gentlemen of Verona – Broadway Musical – 1973-1973 Tour | IBDB". ibdb.com. Retrieved August 23, 2023.
  9. ^ "Pal Joey – Broadway Musical – 1978–1978 Tour | IBDB". ibdb.com. Retrieved August 23, 2023.
  10. ^ "Aladdin – Broadway Musical – Original | IBDB". ibdb.com. Retrieved August 23, 2023.
  11. ^ "Clifton Davis – Broadway Cast & Staff | IBDB". ibdb.com. Retrieved August 23, 2023.
  12. ^ "Clifton Davis". iobdb.com. Retrieved August 23, 2023.
  13. ^ baydog (December 17, 2006). "Ted Lange And Clifton Davis". youtube.com. YouTube. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
  14. ^ "Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed Will Co-Star in Disney's Aladdin; Complete Cast Announced". playbill.com. Playbill. September 16, 2013. Archived from the original on December 13, 2013. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
  15. ^ "Bio". Archived from the original on May 5, 2014. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
  16. ^ "Gospel Superfest (TV Movie 2005) - IMDb". IMDb. Archived from the original on April 5, 2017. Retrieved November 9, 2018.

External links[edit]