skip navigation
Bruce Davison

Bruce Davison

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

Spies Like Us & Nothing But... Double Feature. more info $7.95was $12.98 Buy Now

8MM2 ... Caught in a threesome, a blackmailed lawyer descends into an underground world... more info $11.95was $14.99 Buy Now

108 Stitches ... Bruce Davison (X-Men) leads a group of comedy innovators in the hilarious 108... more info $11.95was $14.99 Buy Now

Paulie ... When you're the world's funniest, fast-talking parrot, you can find yourself in... more info $6.95was $5.98 Buy Now

Also Known As: Bruce Davidson Died:
Born: June 28, 1946 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Profession: actor, director, screenwriter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Bruce Davison is one of Hollywood's hardest-working "chameleons," having turned in dozens of outstanding performances in both lead and character roles on stage, screen and television. During his 30-plus-year career he has played many a villain and hero--tackling the roles of disturbed teenagers, crusading defense attorneys, romantic lovers and put-upon husbands. He has managed to avoid being typed, or when typed, the tag has not stuck long. Though some still identify him with the nerd who kissed the rodent in "Willard" (1971), others may remember him as Captain Wyler from NBC's "Hunter (1984-86), the sensitive caregiver in "Longtime Companion" (1990) or the senator who hates mutants in "X-Men" (2000). Davison has shown Hollywood he is an actor with a wide range, and the movie industry has rewarded him with challenging and diverse roles.Born to an architect and a secretary and raised in Pennsylvania, this blond, college-educated actor made an auspicious debut in Frank Perry's sensitive teen film, "Last Summer" (1969), opposite Richard Thomas and Barbara Hershey, and followed with top billing in the cluttered Hollywood treatment of the Columbia student demonstrations "The Strawberry Statement" (1970)...

Bruce Davison is one of Hollywood's hardest-working "chameleons," having turned in dozens of outstanding performances in both lead and character roles on stage, screen and television. During his 30-plus-year career he has played many a villain and hero--tackling the roles of disturbed teenagers, crusading defense attorneys, romantic lovers and put-upon husbands. He has managed to avoid being typed, or when typed, the tag has not stuck long. Though some still identify him with the nerd who kissed the rodent in "Willard" (1971), others may remember him as Captain Wyler from NBC's "Hunter (1984-86), the sensitive caregiver in "Longtime Companion" (1990) or the senator who hates mutants in "X-Men" (2000). Davison has shown Hollywood he is an actor with a wide range, and the movie industry has rewarded him with challenging and diverse roles.

Born to an architect and a secretary and raised in Pennsylvania, this blond, college-educated actor made an auspicious debut in Frank Perry's sensitive teen film, "Last Summer" (1969), opposite Richard Thomas and Barbara Hershey, and followed with top billing in the cluttered Hollywood treatment of the Columbia student demonstrations "The Strawberry Statement" (1970) and in the box-office thriller "Willard," playing a sensitive loner who breeds pet rats to attack his former boss and co-workers, who were cruel to him.

Temporarily sidetracked into lesser big screen projects for much of the 1970s and 80s, Davison surfaced in some excellent television fare like the Emmy-winning special "The Gathering" (CBS, 1977) and the TV-movies "Summer of My German Soldier" (NBC, 1978) and "Ghost Dancing" (ABC, 1983). Although he helped his cause in features by accepting the controversial part of the child molester in Robert M Young's uncompromising prison drama, "Short Eyes" (1977), no role has been more pivotal to his career than that of David, a wealthy man who tenderly and patiently cares for his AIDS-stricken lover, in "Longtime Companion" (1990). His David is the heart of the movie, the character who draws together a group of gay men grappling with the horrors of the deadly disease. For his searing performance, he received numerous accolades from critics' groups as well as a richly deserved Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor.

Since "Longtime Companion," Davison, has kept extremely busy in both films and on TV. He portrayed a father whose child is struck by a car in Robert Altman's oversized canvas "Short Cuts" and was one among many taken in by Will Smith's character in "Six Degrees of Separation" (both 1993). Two of his movies continued to reflect his concern about AIDS, "The Cure" (1995) and "It's My Party" (1996), and in spite of the fact that his wife, actress Lisa Pelikin, was just about to give birth to their son Ethan, the TV-movie script "Hidden in America" (Showtime, 1996) was too good for him to pass up. Other memorable supporting performances included his portrayals of a zealous Puritan minister in "The Crucible" (1996), Brad Renfro's sympathetic, yet clueless father in "Apt Pupil" (1998) and mutant-hating Senator Kelly (one of the few humans) in the big-screen version of the Marvel Comic's hit "X-Men" (2000) and its sequel "X2" (2003), the latter three films each helmed by Bryan Singer. Davison also specialized in playing tightly wound authority figures in such thrillers as "High Crimes" (2002) and "Runaway Jury" (2003).

In addition, Davison also found time to star on television as George Henderson in the syndicated comedy series "Harry and the Hendersons" (1990-93), episodes of which he directed. The actor, who thrice appeared as Wyck Fayer on the sit-com "Seinfeld" in 1996 and 1997, also delivered a particularly potent and surprising performance in his recurring role of accused murderer Scott Wallace in David E. Kelly's ABC legal drama "The Practice" during the 2000-2001 season (Davison previously worked in a recurring role on Kelly's medical series "Chicago Hope"). The actor also directed and co-starred in the well-recived holiday-themed TV movie "Off Season" (2001), the final film for actor Hume Cronin.

Davison's busy film schedule has not, however, prevented him from having a distinguished stage career. He appeared in daring works like "Streamers" (1978) and "The Normal Heart" (1986), both of which earned him Los Angeles Drama Critics Awards, and Off-Broadway in "The Cocktail Hour" (1989) and "How I Learned to Drive" (1997). in which he portrayed the pedophile Uncle Peck. His 1980 performance as John Merrick in Broadway's "The Elephant Man" and as Tom in "The Glass Menagerie" with Jessica Tandy in 1983 also wowed New York audiences.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Bigfoot (2012)
2.
  Off Season (2001) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Displacement (2016)
3.
 Black Beauty (2015)
4.
5.
 Serena (2015)
6.
7.
 Persecuted (2014)
8.
 Stealing Roses (2014)
9.
 108 Stitches (2014)
10.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Caught the acting bug while studying art at Penn State University
1967:
Broadway debut, Lincoln Center Repertory production of "Tiger at the Gates"
1969:
Feature acting debut, "Last Summer"
1971:
Made TV acting debut in an episode of the ABC series "Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law"
1971:
First leading role; played a rat-loving social misfit in "Willard"
1973:
Featured in episode of "Love, American Style"
1974:
Appeared as the grown-up Patrick in Lucille Ball's last film of "Mame"
1977:
Played a child molester in realistic prison drama, "Short Eyes"
1977:
Had small role in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"
1980:
Starred on Broadway in "The Elephant Man"; succeeded original star Philip Anglim in the role of John Merrick
1983:
Played Tom, the authorial stand-in, in a Broadway revival of "The Glass Menagerie" with Jessica Tandy
1984:
Had leading role on TV in "V: The Series" (NBC)
1984:
Portrayed Captain Wyler on the NBC TV series "Hunter"
1986:
Played Felix, the journalist who succumbs to AIDS, in the L.A. premiere of Larry Kramer's play "The Normal Heart"
1987:
Appeared in the NBC miniseries "Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story"
1990:
Received Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a gay man caring for his dying lover in "Longtime Companion"
:
Starred as George Henderson in the syndicated comedy series "Harry and the Hendersons"; directed a number of episodes
1993:
Acted in four films, including Robert Altman's "Short Cuts" and Fred Schepisi's "Six Degrees of Separation"
1996:
Portrayed Reverend Paris in the film adaptation of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible"
1997:
Returned to the New York stage playing a man who commits incest with his niece in the Off-Broadway play "How I Learned to Drive"
1997:
Starred in the controversial Showtime movie "The Color of Justice"
1998:
Earned an Emmy nomination for his guest stint on "Touched By an Angel"
1998:
Played the father of a troubled teen in the film adaptation of the Stephen King novella "Apt Pupil", directed by Bryan Singer
1999:
Guest starred as an arrogant plastic surgeon in the season premiere of "Chicago Hope" (CBS)
2000:
Starred in the Dogma 95 production of "The King Is Alive", a drama about passengers who stage "King Lear" after their bus breaks down in the desert; premiered at Cannes
2000:
Reunited with Singer for the big-screen version of the comic-book adventure "X-Men"; played Senator Kelly, a politician who believed mutants should not be treated like people
:
Played recurring role on "The Practice" (ABC)
2001:
Appeared as Jessica Biel's father in the Freddie Prinze Jr romance "Summer Catch"
2001:
Portrayed yet another parent to a teen, this time a troubled young woman played by Kirsten Dunst in "crazy/beautiful"
2001:
Made directorial debut with the Showtime original "Off Season"; also starred
2004:
Cast as Dr. "Steg" Stegman, the arrogant chief of staff in Stephen King's medical drama "Kingdom Hospital"
2005:
Had a recurring role on the CBS drama series, "Close to Home"
2007:
Co-starred in "Breach," a thriller about FBI traitor Robert Hanssen played by Chris Cooper
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Pennsylvania State University: University Park , Pennsylvania -
Institute of Film and TV, New York University: New York , New York -

Notes

His official web site is www.brucedavison.com.

"I've been stigmatized by roles so many times over the course of my career. In 'Willard,' I kissed the rat, and that was the last living thing that I kissed on-screen for ten years." --Bruce Davison to Premiere, June 1990.

Bruce Davison told US (November 1993) magazine he wanted a part in Robert Altman's "Short Cuts" so badly he was prepared to "read the phone book naked, upside down" during his audition.

Altman gave Davison a role without seeing him audtion for it.

" . . . I was in a public speaking class and I read something by Arthur Miller, actually, and it was a speech on what it means to be an actor. It said something like 'The rewards of being an actor do not come from the Oscars or other awards, but from the fact that one time in his life on a dark and empty stage an actor gave life to something. It was not himself, but everything he had ever felt or imagined. All the unsinkable heart song that the ordinary man may feel but never utter, he gave life to. And in doing so, somehow joins the ages.' And I thought that's what I would like to do . . ." --Bruce Davison to Patty Goldman in The Biz, December 27, 1996.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Jess Walton. Actor. Divorced.
wife:
Lisa Pelikan. Actor. Married in 1986; Pelikan filed for a divorce on March 24, 2003.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Clair W Davison. Architect, musician. Parents divorced when Davison was three.
mother:
Marian E Davison. Secretary. Parents divorced when Davison was three.
son:
Ethan Pelikan Davison. Born on April 5, 1996; mother, Lisa Pelikan.

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute