Mike Davis, Who Wrote of Los Angeles and Catastrophe, Dies at 76
Davis, who was the first African-American to write a major television mini-series for both the CBS and NBC television networks and who had become an Oscar-winning television critic, died Sunday at a retirement home in Beverly Hills. He was 76.
Davis, who had a daughter, a son and a stepson, had a lifelong love of books and was the author or co-author of 12 books, including three on Los Angeles and one on the history of TV, along with a biography of Charlie Chaplin.
“He thought he could make a difference,” said his daughter, Barbara Davis, of the former CBS executive who became only the third African-American to become a lead writer on a television drama.
In 1957 Davis began work on the first half-hour drama about California at the time it was getting started, “Father Knows Best,” starring Ray Walston and Charles Boyer, which became the first series to air on CBS.
“Davis’s writing was always very good,” Boyer said in a statement. “His scripts for the series were always fresh, insightful and creative.” Boyer added that Davis was “a great talent writer, with the ability to create characters in a way no one before had ever conceived.”
Davis and Walt Disney, the latter at the height of his fame, had a long relationship, the daughter said.
“It started with the Disney family dinner at their Hollywood Hills home,” she said. “Davis would always come out to the back patio where Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters were created.”
In his later years Davis had begun to do more writing and would work on the NBC series “The New Outer Limits,” in which he worked with producer Carl Reiner, who said Davis had “a gift for coming up with the unexpected.” The last episode was shot in 1979.
“He had tremendous talent,” said his friend, producer George P. Moffatt. “He was the only person I ever met who read everything I had written and would do anything to help me get the story right.”
Davis’s most famous feature may be his 1977 op-ed piece, “What My