published Saturday, May 31, 2014
Dallas — Actor and comedian Vince Davis died suddenly in May from pancreatic cancer. Obit and information on visitations and memorial services is here. Below is a collection of words in tribute to Vince, given by members of the local theater and comedy community.
Vince was, besides myself, the longest performing member of 4 Out of 5 Doctors. He started about the time Ed Yeager, who founded the group, left for California. Over the next 24 years we performed together well over 500 times as “Docs.” He was a great comedian, but what I remember most about Vince was his ability to create laughs without words. He could make an audience howl using only facial expression and non-verbal sounds. He was the king of mugging, and always committed 100 percent to the characters he played. He is the first Doc to pass beyond the veil, and I can only imagine that he is warming up the heavenly audience for the rest of us.
~ Mark Walters
I met Vince in 1979 at the old Manhattan Clearinghouse, a theater company of young SMU alums in an old abandoned warehouse loft (now torn down) at the corner of Main and Exposition when my first comedy group, RANDOM SCAM performed there. We clicked right away, basically same age and performing sensibilities. We worked together for the first time that next year and after that we performed together almost every year for the next 33. I worked with him for about four years after he joined RANDOM SCAM, 11 more in 4 OUT OF 5 DOCTORS and even a 3-man act with John Rainone called F/D/R (Fickert/Davis/Rainone).
We had the same agents for about 20 years (Kim Dawson then and Campbell Agency now) and got sent out together all the time because of the short/tall thing. We portrayed Hans and Franz, did a talk show as Jay Leno and Johnny Carson, personified the Grimm Brothers, Frankenstein and the Wolfman, Capt Kirk and Mr Spock, a “Who’s On First” spoof as Elvis and Costello (that’s right Elvis Presley and Lou Costello) and just last year did a series of videos as The Superfans guys (you know, “Daaah Bears”) that are currently running on YouTube (links below). Now I realize there’s been no other single person I’ve ever worked with as much and how lucky I was that happened.
Working with Vince in a play was just like hanging with him offstage; it was fun, easy, honest and you totally trusted he had your back. Working with Vince in sketches and improv was like a shell game with explosive cream pies; unpredictable, messy, quite delicious and you knew, at some point, you were gonna get some on you.
If there was one character I always thought was quintessential Vince Davis it was Billy Chihuahua, Dog Groomer to the Stars. Hyper, panting, unable to stand still and so cuddly, lovable and irresistibly wacky that you didn’t even mind cleaning up the puddle.
He may have been a little guy but he was a big part of my life. And for Dallas showbiz that was just starting to grow up when Vince Davis arrived on the scene in the ’70s, though only 5’6”, he cast a giant shadow, working in theater, film, television, corporate entertainment, improv and comedy. Vince personifies that old cliché: irreplaceable things come in small packages.
~ Mark Fickert
Vince Davis had the perfect face for the many roles he played at Theatre Three; a face that expressed high spirits, an inordinate quantity of mischievous fun, and a joyous expression that gleaned glee from each of his fellow actors. But it’s Homefront (in which Vince played a troubled Vietnam soldier returning to his Arlington home) that resonates in my memory now—30 years later. In that piece (by James Duff, another Theatre Three actor since writing for both Broadway and television) Vince’s outburst toward his bewildered father and mother was electrifying, frightening, moving and, unforgettable: a pinnacle of passion only rarely achieved in the theatre anywhere by anyone. Then that sweet Vince face was contorted into an expression of all the pain of all those who hated the war and their part in it. For all the delight he gave us as a comic performer, I’m remembering that extraordinary performance where he proved an important artist of the theatre. How proud I am to have had him honor our stage with his talent. How unspeakably sad he’s gone.
~ Jac Alder
I first met Vince when he played the young boy in Miss Margurida’s Way. He had no lines but still gave a brilliant performance, all reacting. I had occasion to book Vince on special events through my company Custom Comedy. Vinnie was a funnier H. Ross Perot than Perot himself. He had a brilliant ear for impressions, everything from George Bush to Antonio Banderas. Always thought he was as funny a sketch comic as anyone on SNL. And then he played the Elephant Man at Theatre Three, and was brilliant as well. Blew me away how he was good at so many things: drama, comedy, live theater, film and sketches. Where he is going they better pass out “depends” because he could make you pee yourself laughing.
~ Jill Peters
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. 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.
~ Kerry Cole
I was very fortunate to be Mrs. Jackson to Vince’s Mr. Jackson in Horton Foote’s Talking Pictures at Theatre Three. Our daughters were Emily Jackson and Allison Pistorius. We were happy to be family. I’ll always see Vince in those overalls. He just sank into his suspenders, hands in pockets, and wore them like they were his skin. He was funny, had impeccable timing, effortlessly that small town man in overalls. And the memory I’ll keep of him was his sweetness, his kindness, his gentle sparkling smile. He was a generous actor. After knowing him and his dear Jane Evelyn for so many years, I’m grateful I stood by his side on stage at last.
~ Wendy Welch
I have been blessed to have in my life numerous contenders for the title of nicest guy on earth. Now I’m sitting here in the rain in central Wales weeping over the unexpected loss of one of them. No one who ever worked in the Dallas theatrical scene didn’t know Vince Davis and I daresay no one didn’t love him. I did films and plays with Vince and I had fun with him. We stayed friends even during the 35 years since I left Dallas. I love him and death shall not conquer that. To Jane and Vince’s family, I send love. To Vinnie, rest in peace, dear brother. The world is profoundly less without you.
I fondly recall Vince’s excellent performance as the damaged Vietnam Vet Kenneth Talley in Stage 1’s production of Lanford Wilson’s Fifth of July back in 1979. It was the Dallas premiere of this important play and a mark of the high level of work being done at SMU. I remembered Vince as part of that.
~ Sean Mitchell
A friend of mine and many more passed away last night. Vince was an amazingly happy and funny guy who I will greatly miss. It was shear joy to work with him onstage and play with him off. Opening Day at the ballpark won’t be the same without you. God Bless, Vince! Until the next event my friend.
~ Tom Moore
Vince was simply the most passionate and professional actor I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. When I was on camera with him I became a better actor. I will miss him terribly. Because just knowing that there was a Vince Davis in my chosen career made me proud to be an actor. I’m honored to have known him.
~ Lee Ritchey
Rest In Peace, my friend. Hilarious, endlessly inventive, quicksilver smart, and an all-around Good Egg. Huge loss. Heaven’s gain.
~ Matthew Stephen Tompkins
When I first heard Vince was sick, I gasped and thought “oh no, not Vince.” Such a magical spirit should get to stay and play longer. But he crammed a whole lot of joy and fun and laughter into his time here—and he and his sweet smile will be truly missed. RIP sweet man. You always made my day when I got to see you at auditions.
~ Shannon Pinkston
I was lucky to be the right size and type to be paired with you for countless husband/wife auditions. It may have been an easy match physically, but I had to work hard to keep up with your talent and expertise in front of a camera. We’ll miss you and your puckish grin.
~ Cheryl Ammeter
In college I had to stay during spring break to rehearse Macbeth and Vince not only let me stay at his apartment, he let me sleep in his bed. He slept on his floor, “too comfortable in the bed, I would never get up and do anything.” I remember taking a ride with Vince through DeSoto, Texas, to the intersection of Vince and Davis streets, then out on Pipeline road trying to stand up in the bed of his truck while he did all he could do driving to knock me down. I did a couple of more industrial movies with Vince and a couple of plays at Theatre Three. Vince, you will be missed you wonderful crazy guy. I haven’t seen you in ages and yet my heart is full of so many wonderful memories. Your generosity and good spirit have made this world a little warmer. I think you can be held responsible for some form of global warming, but the kind that makes people open their eyes and appreciate life a little more…and for that I thank you.
~ David Paul Needles
I was fortunate to work with Vince many years ago at Theatre Three. His kindness and humor were infectious. He has always healed a spot in my heart. His passing has affected so many—me included. Rest in peace, Kind Sir.
~ Cheryl Denson
His timing was impeccable. His wit was like lighting, his smile was infectious and now the angels above are enjoying a sold out show.
~ Bethany Wright
Like so many of the posts, it has been such a long time since our glory days in the ’80s. Your laugh, smile and wicked gleam in your eye will never be forgotten you crazy talented friend!! All my love. You will so be missed.
~ Wendye Clarendon
The Wayne Campbell to my Garth in many a live industrial. Thank you for what was always a blast on every single occasion. Rest in Peace, good sir.
~ Bob Hess
Vince was always a very nice person. Kind to everyone. I still remember one of his first jobs in a 7-11 commercial. Vince was a gorilla and came into the store looking for his first cup of morning coffee to soothe the savage beast. He did a great job and was very funny. This is how I choose to remember him and his great sense of humor!
~ David Harder
I never knew how much I loved you ’til I lost you. Rest in piece my friend. We will all be joining you eventually. And therein lies the real joke. Love, your pal. P.S. My heart really hurts right now. Thought you should know.
~ Bryan Massey
It was such an honor to have worked with you in the ensemble experience that was Fifth of July—it was a highlight of my life. Your talent, art, personality, and generosity will be remembered.
~ Marx Martin
We were always thrilled to see Vince on stage—more times than not he made me laugh until there were tears. He was also our neighbor and we kept up with family news when we’d bump into one another at Albertsons. He was a wonderful and supportive husband and father and extremely proud of Michael. He has left us way too soon and there is a void.
~ Heather Clardy Dickie
I would like to think that Vince is collaborating with Jerry Blackburn on some otherworldly comedic endeavor right about now. All the best to Jane and Michael.
~ Mimi Ryan Balkey
How fortunate to witness so many coming to see him yesterday just to let him know how much he had helped them in their performing careers. I think he was equally committed to the audience. Always prepared, a professional, and ready to encourage and teach others. Vince’s most precious gift is the reminder that life turns very quickly and the caring and feeding of our friends’ and associates through love and fellowship should never wain. For now he is rejoicing, present with the Lord, his parents, family, and with us through his spirit. “Stand by stage right Vince Davis…break-a-leg.”
~ Mark W Sullivan
Vince was a true professional in every sense of the word. He was a mentor and advisor to me sharing his enormous gifts unselfishly. His passing leaves a hole in my heart.
~ Steve Cartlidge
My goodness, the void you’ve left in this world is unimaginable. Although your spirit will never cease to be with me my friend. Forty years I knew you…it wasn’t enough. Thanks you for your brotherly love, your zest for life, your contagious laughter, your sweet smile. Thank you for being there for me at my very lowest point, and picking me up, dusting me off, and setting me off on my way to conquer the world. I will never forget.
~ Richard Malmos
I will miss my very special friend Vince Davis and I am so thankful that God allowed us to cross paths. I had the privilege and the honor of sharing the stage with him and directing him. Those are two of the greatest joys that I have experienced in this business. Vince was an outstanding lead performer in AART’s productions of Free Man of Color and A Soldiers Play. His portrayal of these characters will be forever remembered. I will miss his gentle kindness, incredible talent, and fun loving humor. Blessed to have known him. RIP.
~ Regina Washington, African-American Repertory Theater