Davis was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Thelma vanPutten Langhorn, a nurse, and Toussaint L’Ouverture Davis, a Baptist minister. He was raised in Mastic, New York.
Before finding fame in acting, Davis worked as a songwriter, most famously penning The Jackson 5‘s #2 hit “Never Can Say Goodbye“.
Davis starred as barber Clifton Curtis in the mid-1970s television show That’s My Mama with Theresa Merritt, Theodore Wilson and Ted Lange (who subsequently became a mainstay of The Love Boat). Davis’ romantic interest with songstress and Broadway performer Melba Moore led to his co-starring role on her musical variety television show.
Davis made a guest appearance on the third episode of the first season of The Bobby Vinton Show in September 1975, singing “I’ve Got The Music In Me” and “Never Can Say Goodbye”. He successfully sang the Polish lyrics with Vinton to the show’s “My Melody of Love” theme song.
A triple heart bypass survivor, he participated in the “superstars” celebrity TV sports competitions of the seventies. He also appeared in the film Scott Joplin in 1977.
Davis released one acclaimed (and now hard to find) studio recording in 1991 on Benson Records titled Say Amen. He also appeared as a panelist in the second version of The Match Game.
He played the mayor of Miami in the 1999 film Any Given Sunday.