They don’t come any nicer than John Davidson. The dark-haired, Pittsburgh-born singer/TV personality, who was born in 1941 and the son of a Baptist minister, is highly-defined and sometimes cursed by his clean-cut, fresh-faced, apple-cheeked handsomeness. After graduating from high school in White Plains, New York, and earning a B.A. in Theater Arts from Denison University, John took his naturally-gifted baritone voice to the musical stage. The affable six-footer made his Broadway bow with Bert Lahr and Larry Blyden in the short-lived musical, “Foxy”, in 1964 at the Ziegfeld Theater. TV producer Bob Banner, who discovered such other formidable talents as Carol Burnett, Dom DeLuise and Bob Newhart, caught John in one of his performances and immediately took him under his wing.
Within a short time, John was moving quickly in the musical fast lane. On TV, he co-starred as “Matt” in a 1964 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of the classic musical, “The Fantasticks”, alongside an esteemed company that included Mr. Lahr, Ricardo Montalban, Stanley Holloway and the lovely soprano, Susan Watson. He also appeared as a regular on The Entertainers (1964), and grew in stature enough to host The Kraft Summer Music Hall (1966), keeping his face and voice consistently front-and-center on the prime-time variety show circuit. Back on stage, he won a Theater World Award in 1965 for his role as “Curly” in “Oklahoma!”, a part he would play many times over the years. Demonstrating leading man potential, John was handed tuneful co-star assignments in the rather antiseptic Disney movies, The Happiest Millionaire (1967) and The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (1968), both featuring the reigning “Cinderella” of the time, Lesley Ann Warren, but he did not move ahead in films.
While an overly cute, lightweight image severely hampered his chances to be taken seriously as a dramatic actor, the bedimpled performer, nevertheless, made great strides as a full-fledged TV presence in the 1970s. He earned his own daytime talk show, The John Davidson Show (1969), and appeared in such mini-movie offerings as Coffee, Tea or Me? (1973) with Karen Valentine. He co-starred with another eternal cutie at the time, Sally Field, in The Girl with Something Extra (1973), playing newlyweds, but the sitcom was unsuccessful. Through the lean years, John maintained by singing on his own TV Christmas specials and guesting in episodes of The Love Boat (1977) and Fantasy Island (1977). Interest in John, however, slacked off.
It wasn’t until the next decade when his career revitalized by hosting That’s Incredible! (1980). The show’s format fit John’s buoyant nature to a tee and lasted four years, alongside co-host Cathy Lee Crosby. His talent for self-effacing “straight man” humor showed up first as a The Hollywood Squares (Daytime) (1965) regular, then as takeover host of The New Hollywood Squares (1986), which lasted several years. He also took over Dick Clark’s emcee post on the syndicated game show, The $10,000 Pyramid (1973), during the 1992-1993 season.
Music, however, has always been John’s first passion. In addition to recording 12 solo albums in both the pop and country music venues, he plays the guitar and banjo and has sung in English, French and Spanish. A perennial nightclub and concert favorite, he has starred in many national tours and stock productions including “The Music Man”, “110 in the Shade”, “Paint Your Wagon”, “Li’l Abner”, “Camelot”, “Carousel”, “I Do! I Do!” and “Will Rogers’ Follies”, among others. He’s appeared in legit plays, including the off-Broadway comedy, “High Infidelity”, opposite both Barbara Eden and Morgan Fairchild, and, in 1996, returned to Broadway, after 32 years, in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, “State Fair”. Two years later, he was inspired to try out his one-man show, “Bully”, as Theodore Roosevelt, after playing the president earlier in the musical, “Teddy and Alice”. John has made sporadic appearances in films, including the disaster epic, The Concorde… Airport ’79 (1979), and Edward Scissorhands (1990).
Divorced in 1982 from singer Jackie Miller, who once was part of the folk duo, Jackie and Gayle, after 13 years of marriage and two children, John is currently with second wife and former backup singer, Rhonda Davidson (nee Rivera) (since 1983). Together, they have a child of their own, Ashleigh Davidson. Most recently, he appeared with one of his children, Ashleigh, in a 2005 musical production of “Shenandoah”.
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