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Brad Davis
Born Robert Creel Davis
November 6, 1949(1949-11-06)
Tallahassee, Florida, U.S.
Died September 8, 1991 (aged 41)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active 1974–1991
Spouse(s) Susan Bluestein

Robert Creel "Brad" Davis (November 6, 1949 – September 8, 1991) was an American actor, best known for his role in the 1978 film Midnight Express.


Early life

Born Robert Creel Davis in Tallahassee, Florida to Eugene Davis, a dentist whose career declined due to alcoholism, and his wife, Anne Creel. His brother Gene is also an actor. According to an article in The New York Times published in 1987, Davis suffered physical abuse and sexual abuse at the hands of both parents. As an adult, he was an alcoholic and an intravenous drug user before becoming sober in 1981.[1] Davis was known as "Bobby" during his youth, but took Brad as his stage name in 1973.[1]


At 17, after winning a music talent contest, Davis worked at Theatre Atlanta. He later moved to New York City and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, as well as studied acting at the American Place Theater. After a role on the soap opera How to Survive a Marriage, he performed in off-Broadway plays. In 1976 he was cast as Sally Field's love interest in the television film Sybil. He played the lead role in Larry Kramer's play about AIDS, The Normal Heart (1985).

His most successful film role was as the main character, Billy Hayes, in Midnight Express (1978), for which he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Acting Debut - Male. He was also nominated for a similar award at that year's BAFTA Awards, in addition to receiving Best Actor nominations at both ceremonies. He also had a small role in Roots.

Personal life

Davis was married to Susan Bluestein, who later became an Emmy Award-winning casting director. They had one child, Alexandra.[1]

Diagnosed with AIDS in 1985, Davis kept his condition secret until shortly before his death. Although the announcement said he died of AIDS in 1991 in Los Angeles, he actually died of an intentional drug overdose. Near death and in severe pain in a hospital, he opted to return home and end his life on his own terms. With his wife and a family friend present, he committed assisted suicide.[2] Susan Bluestein Davis continues to campaign to combat AIDS.

Davis was referred to as "the first heterosexual actor to die of AIDS," although he reportedly was bisexual, a claim disputed by his wife in her book.[3] When asked if he considered himself bisexual, he replied "didn't someone once say everyone's bisexual, deep down?".[4]


Year Film Role Notes
1967 Song of Myself Streetcar Conductor Short film
Eat My Dust Uncredited Role
1978 Midnight Express Billy Hayes
1980 A Small Circle of Friends Leonardo DaVinci Rizzo
1981 Chariots of Fire Jackson Scholz
1982 Querelle Querelle
1984 Terror in the Aisles Billy Hayes Archival footage
1986 Il cugino americano Julian Salina
1987 Heart Eddie
Cold Steel Johnny Modine
1989 Rosalie Goes Shopping Ray "Liebling" Greenspace
1991 Hangfire Sheriff Ike Slayton Alternative title: First Blood Commando
Year Title Role Notes
1974 How to Survive a Marriage Alexander Kronos Unknown episodes
1976 The American Parade Thomas Nast Miniseries
Sybil Richard J. Loomis NBC Miniseries
The Secret Life of Ol' John Chapman Andy CBS Television movie
1977 Roots Ol' George Johnson ABC Miniseries
Baretta Ray Episode: Guns and Brothers
1980 The Greatest Man in the World Jimmy Schmurch Television movie
A Rumor of War Lt. Philip 'Phil' Caputo CBS Miniseries
1981 BBC2 Playhouse Young American Episode: "Mrs. Reinhardt"
1983 Chiefs Sonny Butts CBS Miniseries
1985 Robert Kennedy & His Times Robert F. Kennedy CBS Miniseries
The New Alfred Hitchcock Presents Arthur Episode: Arthur, or the Gigolo
1986 The Twilight Zone Arthur Lewis Segment: Button, Button
Vengeance: The Story of Tony Cimo Tony Cimo CBS Television movie
1987 The Hitchhiker Jerry Rulac Episode: Why Are You Here?
When the Time Comes Dean ABC Television movie
1988 The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial Lt. Cmdr. Phillip Francis Queeg CBS Television movie
1989 The Rainbow Warrior Conspiracy Neil Travers Television movie
The Edge Kenny Television movie
1990 The Plot to Kill Hitler Count Claus von Stauffenberg CBS Television movie
1991 Child of Darkness, Child of Light Dr. Phinney Television movie
1992 The Habitation of Dragons George Tolliver Television movie

Awards and nominations

Year Award Result Category Film
1979 British Academy Film Awards Nominated Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles Midnight Express
Best Actor Midnight Express
Golden Globe Awards Nominated Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Midnight Express
Won Best Motion Picture Acting Debut - Male Midnight Express
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards Won Best Actor Midnight Express


  1. ^ a b c Witchel, Alex. (16 April 1997) "For the Widow Of Brad Davis, Time Cannot Heal All the Wounds." New York Times. Accessed July 31 2007.
  2. ^ Davis, Susan Bluestein with Hilary De Vries. After Midnight: The Life and Death of Brad Davis. Pocket Books, 1997, pp. 283-299, ISBN 0-671-79672-0
  3. ^ "Brad Davis at GLBTQ Encyclopedia". Brad Davis. Retrieved March 12 2006.  
  4. ^ Hadleigh, Boze (1996). Hollywood gays. Barricade Books. pp. 384. ISBN 1569800839.  

External links

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