Davis, Luther 1916–2008

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Davis, Luther 1916–2008

(Luther Berryhill Davis)


See index for CA sketch: Born August 29, 1916, in Brooklyn, NY; died July 29, 2008, in Bronx, NY. Producer, playwright, screenwriter, and television writer. Davis was above all an entertainer. His work often eluded the stamp of approval from his critics while enjoying great success at the box office. Theater audiences loved the splendor and vitality of productions like the 1953 Broadway musical Kismet, a story of ancient Baghdad which earned the dramatist and his coauthor Charles Lederer an Antoinette Perry Award for best musical. Davis parlayed that success into several adaptations of the opulent production, including a larger-than-life screen version in 1955 and the libretto for a television adaptation in 1967. He also changed the setting to Africa for the lavish adaptation Timbuktu! (1978), featuring an award-winning African American cast. Davis, who also produced that musical, won an Antoinette Perry Award nomination for most innovative production of a revival. As a writer, Davis seemed drawn to the world of wealth and privilege. The Broadway production Grant Hotel, the Musical (1989) follows the lives of wealthy occupants of a luxury hotel in Germany and their encounters with the wait staff who look after them during a weekend in 1928. The play earned Davis another Antoinette Perry Award nomination, this time for best book of a musical. Lady in a Cage (1964), one of several screenplays that Davis wrote between 1947 and 1972, is a thriller about a rich woman locked in her home elevator by a power failure during a home invasion by thugs who terrorize her, mostly for the thrill of it. Davis also wrote several television scripts. He received Edgar Allan Poe Awards from the Mystery Writers of America for End of the World, Baby (1964) and Daughter of the Mind (1966). Davis was the president of the film production company Pictures, Inc. and a vice chair of the Classic Stage Company, a New York City theatrical group.



Chicago Tribune, August 6, 2008, sec. 2, p. 10.

Los Angeles Times, August 5, 2008, p. B8.

New York Times, August 2, 2008, p. B10.