Clifford David Inducted 1996 - Class of 1946
Clifford David's journey from Woodward student to successful actor could be described as a series of "Believe It-Or Nots". . . raised in Toledo's North End . . . once refused admission into the Drama Club and told to "forget it, stick to basketball"...went on to become a respected actor on the stage and screen.
Clifford's roots were in the North End, in the Magnolia street area. The neighborhood was comprised of a "healthy mixture of Americans, basically an enclave of Arabic-speaking Lebanese and Greeks." His father spoke Polish. Woodward was a natural fit due to its unique balance of ethnicity and religion. After attending Stickney Elementary School, he graduated from Woodward in just 2 and 1/2 years.
Many of Clifford's best friends were the guys he played basketball with: Andrew Fenady, Calvin Katz, and Jack Kennedy. Other pals were Don Higley, Richard Joseph, Philip Mansour, and Georg Fenady.
Determined to follow his dream of becoming an actor, Clifford's after-school hours were spent at singing and dance lessons. He also worked part-time at B. R. Baker's, yet still found time to play Junior Varsity and Varsity basketball.
The teachers Clifford best remembers are those who supported his ambitions; Edgar Sorton, Mrs. Noble, and Helen Marie Griffin. He had a great respect of and friendship with Principal Charles C. LaRue, who encouraged him to pursue his career goals. Another influential teacher was University of Toledo professor Charlotte Reugger, with whom he studied for one year. Later, Clifford studied with Stephanie Scourby in New York, E. Herbert-Caesari in LosAngeles, and Lee Strasberg.
Clifford worked his way up in the entertainment industry. He started as a messenger. He went on to a diversified career in films, television, Broadway, and off-Broadway productions. Among his co-stars are Keanu Reeves, Paul Newman, Ellen Burstyn, Sir Laurence Olivier, Lucille Ball, Jessica Tandy, Julie Harris, David Janssen, Angela Lansbury, Mary Tyler Moore, and AI Pacino. He has worked with many renowned directors, including William Peter Blatty, Noel Coward, Sidney Lumet, Sir Michael Redgrave, and Richard Rogers.
Perhaps Clifford's most famous co-star was Marilyn Monroe. They worked together for six weeks on a Novella (short film) entitled Lost of Cheri. Their work was interrupted, as she had to leave for Hollywood to fulfill another contractual obligation. Miss Monroe died shortly thereafter.
Clifford's list of acting credits is lengthy. He has performed in films: Pirates, The Exorcist:15 Years Later, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Fort Apache, The Bronx, Resurrection, and The Betsy. He made his Broadway debut in 1961. His most recent appearance was in 1994, in New York, when he starred in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Other original cast Broadway productions are 1776, Camino Real, On a Clear Day. . ., The Aspen Papers, Wildcat, and Caligula. Clifford has appeared off-Broadway in Three Penny Opera, Hope of the Heart, The Boys from Syracuse, Hamlet, Epitaph/or George Dillon, and Suicide in B-Flat.
Television fans of series, sitcoms, movies, and mini-series have also been entertained by Clifford. In 1995, he appeared in The Liz Taylor Story and Murder, She Wrote. Other credits include Matters of the Heart, The Equalizer, Blind Ambition, The Missiles of October, Fear on Trial, Amy Prentiss, Matt Helm, Harry-O, Archer, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
Clifford is a Life Member of The Actor's Studio in New York, which is the American version of the Moscow Theatre. He has taught acting at the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York City, at NYU, and has given private lessons. Clifford has just directed his first film, a two-character piece in which he also stars, entitled Changes of Distance. It has been submitted for consideration to the Sundance Film Festival, which was founded by Robert Redford.
Clifford is now single and has four children, three sons and one daughter. He said he was "rather surprised and stunned" when informed of his election into the WHS Hall of Fame. Clifford's work is also his hobby. "My work is truly my fun."
In today's world of intensive media coverage of those in the entertainment field, Clifford is an enigma. He has never sought publicity, but has allowed his work to speak for itself. Clifford says, "If you're good enough, the world will hear about you." Tonight, we send Clifford our message: "You are good enough, we know about you, and we applaud you!"