Writer penned 15 movies, 12 TV scripts
Luther Davis, who shared a Tony for co-writing the book of 1953 best musical “Kismet,” died July 29 in the Bronx. He was a month shy of his 92nd birthday and lived in both Manhattan and Florida.In all, he penned 15 movies, at least 12 TV scripts, and worked on five Broadway shows, the most famous of which was “Kismet,” which borrowed the music of Borodin and starred Alfred Drake, Joan Diener and Richard Kiley. Davis also penned the screenplay for the musical film version of “Kismet” (1955), which starred Howard Keel, Ann Blyth, Vic Damone and numerous others. A TV version in 1967 starred Jose Ferrer, Anna Maria Alberghetti, George Chakiris and Barbara Eden. In 1978, Davis transported the Baghdad-set “Kismet” into the West Africa-placed “Timbuktu!” which he also produced. It starred Eartha Kitt and Melba Moore, ran for 221 perfs and earned six Tony noms, including one for himself for most innovative production of a revival. Another show he wrote the book for was the musical version of “Grand Hotel,” directed and choreographed by Tommy Tune, which won five Tonys and also earned Luther a Tony nom. It ran for more than 1,000 performances from1989-92. Among his other plays was 1945’s “Kiss Them for Me,” about four sailors back from WWII. His produced screenplays included “The Hucksters” (1947), with an all-star cast headed by Clark Gable and Deborah Kerr, and “Lady in a Cage” (1964) starring Olivia de Havilland. His TV work included episodes for regular series and specials. The Brooklyn native and Yale grad served in the Army Air Corps in both Asia and Europe during World War II, and rose to the rank of major. He is survived by his wife actress Jennifer Bassey, and two daughters.