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Overview for Bruce Davison
Bruce Davison

Bruce Davison


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


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.

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