Bruce Davison’s four-decade career has included everything from Shakespeare to “Seinfeld.” Making his professional stage debut in 1966 as Jonathan in Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feelin' So Bad at the Pennsylvania Festival Theatre, he appeared on Broadway in 1968 in the role of Troilus in Tiger at the Gates at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. The following year, he was seen off-Broadway in A Home Away from Home and appeared at the Lincoln Center in the cast of King Lear.
Success in the movies came immediately for Davison after he and a trio of up-and-coming talents (Barbara Hershey, Richard Thomas and Catherine Burns) starred together in the poignant but disturbing coming-of-age film Last Summer. Following this, he was awarded a starring role opposite Kim Darby in The Strawberry Statement, an offbeat social commentary about ’60s college radicalism, and in the cult horror flick Willard in which he bonded notoriously with a herd of rats.
Moving further into the ’70s, Davison had strong roles alongside greats like Burt Lancaster in the well-made cavalry film, Ulzana's Raid, and the powerful independent film, Short Eyes. Other notable films include the musical film version of Mame, The Jerusalem File, Mother, Jugs & Speed, Grand Jury and Brass Target. Davison also earned theatrical roles in The Skin of Our Teeth, The Little Foxes and A Life in the Theatre. In 1977, he won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Award for his work in Streamers. On TV, he starred in mini-movie productions of “Mourning Becomes Electra,” “Deadman's Curve” (portraying Dean Torrence of the surf-era pop duo Jan and Dean) and “Summer of My German Soldier,” co-starring Kristy McNichol.
During the 1980s, Davison took over the role of the severely deformed John Merrick as The Elephant Man on Broadway; portrayed Clarence in Richard III at the New York Shakespeare Festival; was directed by Henry Fonda in The Caine Mutiny Court Martial; played a moving Tom Wingfield opposite Jessica Tandy's Amanda in The Glass Menagerie; received a second Los Angeles Drama Critics Award for his work in the AIDS play The Normal Heart; and finished off the decade gathering up fine reviews in the amusing A.R. Gurney period piece The Cocktail Hour. Other notable films from this period include, Kiss My Grits, Crimes of Passion, Spies Like Us and The Ladies Club. But it was not until he was cast in and earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for the groundbreaking gay drama Longtime Companion that his film career revitalized. After copping Golden Globe, Independent Spirit, New York Film Critics and National Society of Film Critics awards for Longtime Companion, other gay-themed films welcomed his presence, including The Cure and It's My Party. Davison eventually served as a spokesperson for a host of AIDS-related organizations, including Hollywood Supports. He is also active with foundations that help abused children.
Davison’s more popular films have included Six Degrees of Separation, starring Will Smith, the family adventure film Far from Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog and the box-office hit X- Men as well as its sequel. His more controversial art-house showcases include, Dahmer and Hate Crime. In 1998, Davison received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his work on the CBS hit “Touched by an Angel.” In 2002, he received a Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Directing in a Children’s Special for helming the TV movie “Off Season.”
Davison has also had leading roles in such series as “Harry and the Hendersons,” the revival of “Knight Rider,” “The Last Resort” and A&E’s “Those Who Kill.” His many recurring TV roles have included “The Practice,” “The L Word,” “Seinfeld,” “Kingdom,” Amazon Prime’s “Mozart in the Jungle,” “The Blindspot” and ABC Family’s “The Fosters.”