Don S. Davis: 1942-2008
Veteran actor Don S. Davis, best known as Gen. Hammond on “Stargate: SG1” died last week at the age of 65.
Davis was a prolific actor with more than 130 projects to his credit but he is perhaps most familiar to genre fans for roles in several classic series including David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks”, where he played Major Garland Briggs, and The “X-Files” where he played Captain Scully, Agent Dana Scully’s father. Some of his other work includes the “G.I. Joe” animated series where he voiced Wild Bill, he appeared on “Supernatural“, “Highlander”, “The Dead Zone”, “The Outer Limits”, “Andromeda”, and the new “Flash Gordon” series. But Don’s most enduring role is that of Major General George Hammond on the series “Stargate: SG-1“. Don co-starred on SG-1 for the show’s first seven years, helping to launch the enduring science fiction franchise.
Off-screen, Don was beloved by the show’s cast and crew. Mike Browne, a key production assistant on “Beyond Loch Ness” and Carrie Genzel, who will be playing Jackie Kennedy in the upcoming “Watchmen” movie both expressed their grief at Davis’ passing on the Moviesetblog.
Browne: “I had the pleasure of working with actor Don S. Davis, who passed away on the weekend, on a made for TV movie called Beyond Loch Ness. I was impressed with his professionalism, candor about the film business, sense of humor and accessibility.
Between takes, even on the rainy days when everyone else was running for their warm and dry trailers, Don had time for any crew member who wanted to bend his ear at the Craft Service table or around the cast tent. With me, he spoke candidly about the gratitude he had for his successful and almost accidental acting career, a passion for teaching and slowing down toward retirement in a few short years.
Don was an Officer and a Gentleman and he will be missed.”
Genzel: “I also had the pleasure of working with Don S. Davis on “Beyond Loch Ness” and am truly saddened to hear of his passing. We had to deal with some pretty hard weather conditions on the film and no matter how cold, wet, or muddy it was Don was always there with a funny story or anecdote to lift everyone spirits, and trust me, he never ran out of them. He was a quite a daredevil too, not only did he do his own stunts in the film but the first day of filming he had to drive a boat on a lake and got it going so fast he nearly landed right on the beach. I think the crew and director, Paul Ziller, were a bit worried, but we sure had a good laugh about it later…they didn’t let him drive the boat much after that.
I will always remember his professionalism, kindness, endless stories, and great laugh, I learned a lot from Don, my heart goes out to his family and loved ones, may he rest in peace.”
Davis departed SG-1 in 2003 due to a medical condition that restricted his workload, but would later return for several guest appearances on both SG-1 and “Stargate Atlantis“. Don worked hard to improve his health, and continued to work both on screen and off until his death.
Born August 4, 1942 in Aurora, Missouri and raised there, Don received a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in theater and art from Southwest Missouri State College in 1965. He then served three years on active duty in the United States Army.
Upon leaving the army, Don began working toward a Master’s degree in theater at Southern Illinois University, in Carbondale, Illinois, and received his Master’s degree in 1970. He taught at the University of British Columbia for a decade before returning to SIU to complete his coursework for a PhD in theater, receiving the degree in 1982.
Don’s list of film and television credits is lengthy, dating back to 1982. He met Stargate co-star Richard Dean Anderson on the set of “MacGyver”, where Don worked as a stunt double for actor Dana Elcar.
When production on “Stargate SG-1” began in 1997, the producers tapped Davis to play the base commander — originally written to be a by-the-book antagonist, but quickly softened by Don’s own personality and experience.
In 2003 Don married his soul mate and the great love of his life, Ruby Fleming-Davis. The two have resided in British Columbia with their three dogs, Teto, Ming and Charley.
Don’s off-screen career as an artist blossomed especially in the years since he left Stargate. A look at his Web site, DonSDavisArt.com, reveals his tremendous gifts in painting, drawing, and woodcarving.
Don’s final Stargate appearance is in “Stargate: Continuum“, the SG-1 DVD movie that will be released July 29 in North America and August 18 in the United Kingdom. He will also appear in the forthcoming films “Vipers,” “Woodshop,” and “Far Cry,” according to the Internet Movie Database.
Many fans of Don’s work have had the opportunity to meet him in person, as he was also a regular face at fan conventions around the world. Fans learned that behind General Hammond was a Southern gentleman with a big heart, a no-nonsense attitude, and all the love and respect one could imagine.
GateWorld, a website dedicated to covering the Stargate franchise visited with Don in 2006, where he talked at length about his career, his time on Stargate, and his feelings about his fellow cast members. That two-part video interview, “Intimate Portrait,” may be found in the Interviews archive.
Services for Don S. Davis will be small and private in Vancouver. His Web sites will be updated this week, and his obituary has been published in the Vancouver Sun newspaper. In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family requests that donations be made to the American Heart Association in Don’s memory.
Memories of Don can be shared at GateWorld Forum. Also watch the site this week for more in tribute to this stellar actor and man, beginning with a special video tribute.