published Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Dallas — Actor, comedian and wise guy on many levels, Vince Davis died May 23, 2014 at the age of 60 from pancreatic cancer. A popular and accomplished actor of screen and stage, his sudden passing has left friends and family stunned, and set off waves of impact.
“Vince was like the three wise men all rolled into one: Appearing from some foreign place, bearing the exquisite gifts of art, love, and compassion for his brief stay,” says actress and friend Kerry Cole. “In this unique Vince Davis version, there’s a fourth wise guy with a gift: Humor. In ALL its forms. As we all know, he was an amazingly talented man with a heart of gold. And wise. Truly wise.”
Born as James Vincent Davis on June 9, 1954 in Dallas, Vince is survived by his loving wife of 34 years, dancer and educator Jane Evelyn Chalk Davis of Dallas, and his best friend and son, Michael Davis of Austin, who followed his father into acting. Michael penned these words:
And it is with every day and every breath
We fight our eternal war with Death.
And one day we, often far too soon will lose.
Our loved ones too.
But the testament of our Love stands strong,
Because after the end, Life goes on.
A larger-than-life fellow with impish face and slight, wiry frame, Vince didn’t light up a room when he walked in. Far too subversive for that. He turned it upside down. Interactions with Vince were always memorable. Hundreds of tales from theater, video and film productions swirl around Vince. Wherever the action was, Vince was often found in the middle.
Vince knew acting was his raison d’être since enthralling Sunday school students with Texas history storytelling at the Methodist church in DeSoto where he was raised. An actor of tremendous range, one of Vince’s early performances was in 1979 as the damaged Vietnam veteran Kenneth Talley in Lanford Wilson’s Fifth of July while a student in Southern Methodist University’s Professional Acting Program. He aced on North Texas stages including Theatre 3, Stage West, Circle Theatre, and Casa Mañana in roles such as John Merrick in The Elephant Man, Phil Hogan in Moon For the Misbegotten, and Harry Truman in The Dead Presidents’ Club.
Yet comedy and absurdism was where Vince stood out. His Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead was unparalleled. Arles and every other character he played in Greater Tuna were beyond memorable. His improvisation skills, sense of whimsy, and whole-bodied approach to humor were unleashed as an original member of 4 Out of 5 Doctors, a groundbreaking sketch and improv group that reigned for 25 years.
As related in his memorial biography, “Vince was a passionate character actor in theatre and film. His creative instinct made each character he portrayed believable, real, truthful and compassionate. Vince believed that greater good, decency and humanity existed in people and he brought that to each role he played.” His is a light sadly dimmed while in its prime.
» Several observances are planned:
- Visitation — 6-8 p.m. on Friday, May 30, 2014 at Restland Funeral Home and Memorial Park main building.
- Memorial service — 2:30 PM on Saturday, May 31, 2014 at Restland Memorial Chapel in the main building. (Both are located at 13005 Greenville Ave, Dallas, TX 75243; directions and site map.)
- Theater memorial service — Monday, June 9at 6:30 PM at Theatre 3, 2800 Routh Street, Dallas, TX 75201 in the Quadrangle, on what would have been Vince’s 60th birthday.
- 4 Out Of 5 Doctors comedy send-off — date tba
» Click the slideshow icon in the floating menu at the bottom left of your screen to see images from Vince’s career. Headshots courtesy Sharen Bradford at The Dancing Image.
» The official obituary is here
» Feel free to write your thoughts about Vince Davis in the comments section.
» Friend, actor and fellow 4 Out of 5 Doctors member Mark Fickert sends these links for the video series for REALPAGE, featuring the inimitable Vince Davis: