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Remembering Ossie Davis

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Special to the NNPA from Afro Newspapers

Hearts around the world were saddened as the news broke last week of Ossie Davis, reportedly having died peacefully in his sleep. While Ruby Dee, his bride of more than 50 years, was certainly grieved, she is not alone in the sense of loss felt for the indomitable gentleman who seemed to be everyone's dad or granddad.

The strong bellowing voice that delivered the eulogy for Malcolm X.

The paternal star who supported young upstarts like Spike Lee, having appeared in almost all of his movies.

The civil rights activist who made his presence felt at innumerable venues of protest. Just some of the ways we remember Ossie Davis.

He and Ruby Dee most recently received 2004 Kennedy Center Honors, Dec. 5, for the work they've done, the contribution they've made to make the art world a better place. They were among six ''extraordinary individuals whose unique and abundant artistry has contributed significantly to the cultural life of our nation and the world,'' said Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman. ''They are a revered couple of stage and screen.''

Ossie Davis is best known for his association with Purlie Victorious (1961). He wrote and starred in the play, which later was made into a film, Gone Are the Days (1963), and a successful Broadway musical, Purlie (1970).

Raiford Chatman Davis was born o­n Dec. 18, 1917, in Cogdell, Ga. After attending Howard University in Washington, D.C., and Columbia University in New York City, he joined the United States Army during World War II, serving from 1942 to 1945. He returned to New York City after the war and made his Broadway debut in 1946 in Jeb.

Davis' Broadway credits include roles in Jamaica (1957) and A Raisin in the Sun (1959). His motion-picture career included roles in The Joe Louis Story (1953); Cotton Comes to Harlem (1969), which Davis wrote and directed; and Do The Right Thing (1989).

He married Ruby Dee in 1948 and they are the parents of three children. At the time of his death, he was working o­n a film called ''Retirement.''

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