This world-renown actor was the husband of Ruby Dee, with whom he starred in 11 Broadway productions and 5 films. The two formed such a good team that they are compared to Hume Croyn and Jessica Tandy and the Lunts.
Davis, who was the oldest of 5 kids, left tiny Cogdell, Georgia, growing up in Valdosta and Waycross. In 1935 he hitchhiked to Howard College in Washington, where he studied acting and directing. He wanted to be a playwright. His career got started in 1939 in Harlem, a center of black culture in America. He was studying at Columbia at the time. Among the people he met were W. E. B DuBois and Langston Hughes. During this time he briefly became involved with the Young Communist League.
During World War II Ossie served as a techinician in a surgical unit in the U. S. Army, serving in Liberia and helping locals with medical issues. This experience help landing his first Broadway role in "Jeb," a story about a soldier returning home. This was the first teaming of Davis and Dee on Broaway. They married in 1948.
In 1950 Davis appeared in the film "No Way Out," his first motion picture. Dee also appeared in this her 5th film. Davis befriended Brooklyn Dodger athelete Jackie Robinson, and the two became strong advocates of civil rights.