Born in Florida in 1949, Brad Davis moved to Georgia after graduating from high school to pursue an acting career. From there, he moved to New York City, twice, to find work. By the early 1970s Davis was acting in off-Broadway plays while studying acting at the Academy of Dramatic Arts. His stage work led to his movie debut and to television shows such as the hit Sybil (1976) and the mini-series Roots (1977). His biggest success was in 1978 with the lead role in Midnight Express (1978) where he played Billy Hayes, a young American imprisoned in Turkey for drug smuggling. It won him a Golden Globe award.
Another memorable movie role in 1982 was playing the title character of Querelle (1982), a ruggedly lethal sailor who seduces and sets both men and women’s hearts aflutter.
Davis contracted AIDS in 1979 apparently from his one-time cocaine addiction, but in response to the anti-AIDS hysteria in Hollywood, Davis kept his illness a secret for a number of years and continued to act. His later years had him finally revealing that he had AIDS by the late 1980s and he became an AIDS activist in bashing the Hollywood industry and US government for ignoring and shunning victims suffering from the hideous disease. Brad Davis died in 1991 at age 41. His widow, Susan Bluestein, continues his activist work in the fight against AIDS.
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