Daniel Davis at a Star Trek convention
November 26, 1945|
Gurdon, Arkansas, U.S.
|Other names||Danny Davis|
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.
In 2016, Davis played Selsdon Mowbray in the Roundabout Theatre revival of Noises Off at the American Airlines Theatre in New York City. The production opened on January 14 for a limited engagement, running through March 6, 2016.
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 Theatre (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 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; 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 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.)
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.
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.
|1970||The Sidelong Glances of a Pigeon Kicker||Skinny||Uncredited|
|1986||Blind Justice||Attorney Seth Thompson|
|1990||The Hunt for Red October||Captain Davenport|
|2005||Thru the Moebius Strip||Arthur||Voice|
|1983||Hardcastle and McCormick||Joe Kello||Episode: "The Day the Music Died"|
|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"|
|1986||Matlock||James Billings||Episode: "The Professor"|
|1986||Cheers||Mr. Reinhardt||Episode: "The Peterson Principle"|
|1987||Dynasty||Harry Thresher||Season 8 - 5 Episodes: "The New Moguls", "The Spoiler", "Images", "The Rifle", & "The Scandal"|
|1988-93||Star Trek: The Next Generation||Professor James Moriarty||Episodes: "Elementary, Dear Data" and "Ship in a Bottle"|
|1989||MacGyver||Mr. Helman||Episode: "Halloween Knights"|
|1992||Columbo||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|
|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)"|
|2010||The Fran Drescher Show||Himself||Guest|
|2015||Gotham||Jacob Skolimski||Episode: "Under the Knife"|
|2017||The Blacklist||Baldur Magnusson||Episode "Natalie Luca [#184]"|
- "IMDb Biography of Mr. Daniel Davis". Retrieved 24 June 2016.
- "Noises Off 2016". Broadway World. January 14, 2016. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
- "Daniel Davis". Playbill Vault. Playbill. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
- Arkatov, Janice (February 18, 1987). "Daniel Davis: An Actor In His Milieu". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
- Zoren, Neal (September 21, 2014). "Michael Learned and Daniel Davis write new chapter in 'Love Letters'". Delaware County Daily Times. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
- Ludvigson, Evelyn (December 21, 1994). "Lucky Jill Eikenberry only takes projects that interest her". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
- Horwitz, Simi (September 7, 2004). "Daniel Davis: Playing Shaw in "The Frogs"". Backstage. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
- "The Nutler presents...Daniel Davis in the American Theater Wing Seminar". Angelfire.com. April 19, 2001. Retrieved February 12, 2012.
- "Wrong Mountain". Playbill Vault. Playbill. Archived from the original on October 26, 2014. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
- Gans, Andrew; Simonson, Robert (March 28, 2005). "Daniel Davis Let Go From La Cage; Robert Goulet to Step in Mid-April". Playbill. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
- "Long Center Presents Celebrity Autobiography". Thelongcenter.org. Archived from the original on March 16, 2012. Retrieved February 12, 2012.
- "Daniel Davis Theatre Credits". broadwayworld.com. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
- Rizzo, Frank (February 9, 2012). "Daniel Davis Is Prospero In "The Tempest" At Hartford Stage". Hartford Courant. Retrieved December 22, 2014.