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William B. Davis

William B. Davis

Known For: Acting · Birthday: 1938-01-13

48 Movies · 15 TV Series


William Bruce Davis (born January 13, 1938) is a Canadian actor and director, best known for his role as the Cigarette Smoking Man on The X-Files. Besides appearing in many TV programs and movies, Davis founded his own acting school, the William Davis Centre for Actors Study. In his personal life, Davis is an avid water-skier, lectures on skepticism at events such as the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry's CSICon, and advocates for action on climate change. In 2011 Davis published his memoir, Where There's Smoke ... The Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man.

Personal Life

Despite being known for his smoking character, Davis quit smoking in the 1970s; when The X-Files started he was given a choice between herbal cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes. At first, he chose to use tobacco cigarettes, but switched to herbal because he was afraid of becoming addicted to them again. Davis used his notoriety on the show to assist the Canadian Cancer Society in its programs to combat smoking. In 2014, Davis donated his investments that support fossil fuels to the David Suzuki Foundation in an effort to both ethically invest, and help fund work to fight climate change. Davis is a passionate advocate for action in response to climate change, believes it is a critical issue of our time and speaks on the subject often. Taking action on a personal level, Davis drives a Tesla powered by hydroelectricity.He is also a former national champion water skier and for a time held various records in older age divisions. In a conversation with Brendan Beiser, Davis states he holds the record for tricks in his age category, adding "I did hold the slalom record until this past year until some young whippersnapper of 65 from Ontario took the record away from me."In 2011, Davis married Emmanuelle Herpin. He has two daughters, Melinda and Rebecca, from an earlier marriage. He also has two grandchildren.

Early Life

Davis was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to a lawyer father and psychologist mother. He began his acting career as a child in 1949, in radio drama and summer stock theatre. His cousins Murray and Donald Davis ran the Straw Hat Players in Ontario in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and rehearsed in the basement of Davis' house. When they needed a boy they gave William his first professional acting job. He went on from there to have a career as a boy actor on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio before his voice broke. In 1955 he enrolled at the University of Toronto to study philosophy, but actively pursued a career as an actor alongside future actor Donald Sutherland. In 1959, he graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy. While at university he switched his attention from acting to directing and with his partner, Karl Jaffary, took over and ran the Straw Hat Players for four years.

Movies & TV Series

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