Daniel Davis

Daniel Davis

Born: November 26, 1945
Age: 78
Birthplace: Gurdon, Arkansas, U.S.
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Daniel Davis (born November 26, 1945) is an American stage, screen, and television actor. He is known for portraying Niles the butler on the sitcom The Nanny (1993-99) and for his two guest appearances as Professor Moriarty on Star Trek: The Next Generation, affecting an upper class English accent for both roles. Davis also voices the intelligent Cro Magnon, Longhair from the Longhair and Doubledome cartoon shorts from Cartoon Network's Big Pick. He can now be seen on Broadway as Selsdon Mowbray in the Roundabout Theatre revival of Noises Off at the American Airlines Theatre. This production will run until 13th March, 2016 when it closes.



Davis was born in Gurdon, Arkansas, and grew up in Little Rock. His parents operated a movie theater. His first acting job was at the age of 11, when he was cast in a local broadcast program called 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. During his time at ACT, he also taught acting.


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 uses 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.)

In 2002, Davis guest-starred on the television series Frasier, playing Dr. Shafer in Season 10, Episode 8, "Rooms with a View".

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.

In July 2008, Davis portrayed King Lear at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, under the direction of Bonnie J. Monte. That year he also guest-starred on the television series Ugly Betty.

In November 2010, Davis was part of the Celebrity Autobiography series at the Long Center in Austin, Texas. He performed along with fellow Nanny alum Lauren Lane and Ugly Betty alum Michael Urie.

In December 2010, he guested on The Fran Drescher Show through Skype.

In 2012, he recorded the audiobook of the Star Wars novel Star Wars: Darth Plagueis, by James Luceno.


Davis is an established theatre actor. He has appeared in both Broadway and off-Broadway productions in New York, and has appeared at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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 2012, he played Prospero in The Tempest at Hartford Stage.

He can now be seen on Broadway as Selsdon Mowbray in the Roundabout Theatre revival of "Noises Off" at the American Airlines Theatre. This production will run until 13th March, 2016 when it closes.


  • Film
Year Title Role Notes
1970 The Sidelong Glances of a Pigeon Kicker Skinny Uncredited
1985 Chain Letters Steve
1986 Blind Justice Attorney Seth Thompson
1989 K-9 Halstead
1990 The Hunt for Red October Captain Davenport
1990 Havana Marion Chigwell
2005 Thru the Moebius Strip Arthur (voice)
2006 The Prestige Judge
  • TV
Year Title Role Notes
1983 Hardcastle and McCormick Joe Kello Episode: "The Day the Music Died"
1980-81 Texas Eliot Carrington
1986 Cheers Mr. Reinhardt Episode: "The Peterson Principle"
1984 Highway to Heaven Lance Gaylord Episode: "Catch a Falling Star"
1985 Remington Steele Pierre Fumar Episode: "Gourmet Steele"
1986 Matlock James Billings Episode: "The Professor"
1985 Scarecrow and Mrs King Robert Castille Episode: "Vigilante Mothers"
1986 Scarecrow and Mrs King Tony Martinet Episode: "All the World's a Stage"
1988 Dirty Dancing 1 Episode
1989 MacGyver Mr. Helman Episode: "Halloween Knights"
1992 Murder, She Wrote Neal Dishman Episode: "Badge of Honor"
1992 Columbo Wedding photographer Episode: "No Time to Die"
1993-99 The Nanny Niles 145 episodes
Star Trek: The Next Generation Professor James Moriarty Episodes: "Elementary, Dear Data" and "Ship in a Bottle"
The Practice Judge Barton Wolfe
2000 Longhair and Doubledome Longhair Failed pilot; voice only
2010 The Fran Drescher Show Himself Guest
2015 Gotham Jacob Skolimski Episode: "Under the Knife"

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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