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Daniel Davis Is Now 74 — Glimpse into His Life after Playing the Butler Niles on ‘The Nanny’

Oyin Balogun
Oct 04, 2020
07:40 A.M.
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For six years, American actor Daniel Davis graced television screens as the lead role in the iconic '90s sitcom, "The Nanny." Over two decades later, the Hollywood legend is now 74 and a far cry from the fictional Niles, the British butler.


"The Nanny" star, Daniel Davis, thrilled fans for years with his on-screen rendition of the witty butler, Niles. The snooty role, which he played from 1993 to 1999, has remained the actor's most notable to date.

Since the show stopped airing, Daniel Davis, now 74, has moved on to other projects, making his mark in the entertainment industry. Aside from being a movie veteran, here are some details known about "The Nanny" star and his journey through stardom.

Daniel Davis at the opening night of "La Cage Aux Folles" after party December 9, 2004 | Photo: Getty Images



The movie star, famous for his flawless British accent in "The Nanny," is, in fact, an Arkansas-born American. Following his birth on November 26, 1945, Daniel Davis lived with his parents in Little Rock, where he spent his early years.

Benjamin Salisbury and Lauren Lane, who played Brighton Sheffield and C.C. Babcock, have quit acting for good. Before saying goodbye to showbiz, however, they landed a few acting gigs.

He attended Hall High School in the '60s before proceeding to the Arkansas Art Center to obtain a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts. Davis worked at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. He also taught acting at the American Conservatory Theatre for six years post-graduation.


Daniel Davis at the Opening Night of "Medea" on the campus of the University of California, September 23, 2009 | Photo: Getty Images


Davis' parents owned a cinema, which, therefore, piqued the star's interest in showbiz at a young age. The movie veteran made his acting debut at 11 in a local broadcast program titled "Betty's Little Rascals."


He returned to acting years after obtaining a bachelor's degree, with an appearance in the soap opera, "Texas," alongside Beverlee McKinsey. He snagged additional roles in the spin-off of "Another World" and the series, "The A-Team."

After taking on small roles, Daniel Davis got his big break as Niles in "The Nanny." Having to replace his American accent with an English one for six years led many viewers to believe he was British.

Daniel Davis at the "Black Tie" cast photo call on December 21, 2010 | Photo: Getty Images


He again rendered the accent in his next big role as Professor Moriarty in "Star Trek: The Next Generation." He starred in other movies afterward and fast became a household name.


Daniel Davis played the quick-witted, snooty butler, Niles, on the classic sitcom of the '90s. His character always had the best comebacks, especially when directed at his sworn enemy, C.C, who, by a twist of fate, became his wife in the final season.

His snooty remarks, sarcastic comebacks, and hilarious gestures captured viewers' hearts, making the icon a fan-favorite on the show. Davis connected with his on-screen character, so much so that many find it impossible to picture someone else playing the role. And yes, he almost didn't get it.


Daniel Davis at the after party for the opening night of "Black Tie" on February 8, 2011 | Photo: Getty Images

During an interview, the 74-year-old recalled how he almost lost the part to British actor Roddy McDowall. He explained how he perfected his British accent and made it convincing during the audition.


However, when he realized he was up against British-born McDowall, he lost all hope of landing the part. It came as a surprise when three hours later, the producers called to inform him that he got the part. He eventually discovered that Fran Drescher, who played Nanny on the show, may have influenced the outcome in his favor.

Daniel Davis attends "Noises Off" Broadway opening night at American Airlines Theatre on January 14, 2016 in New York City. | Photo: Getty Images



Davis continued pursuing his acting career after his six-year stint on "The Nanny." However, he rarely landed roles as impressive as his role on the '90s sitcom, except his act as professor Moriarty on two "Star Trek"  episodes.

Some of his notable movie appearances in the last two decades include "The Practice," "Ugly Betty," "Frasier," "Gotham," and 2017's "The Blacklist."

Daniel Davis attends the photo call for the Roundabout Theatre Company production of "Noises Off" at the American Airlines Theatre on November 24 ,2015 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images


Daniel Davis, who today is an established theatre actor, has starred in several Broadway and theatre productions. Featuring on such productions as "The Invention Of Love," "The Frogs," and "Wrong Mountain," among others, earned him widespread recognition. Notably, he snagged a Tony nod for Best Actor in a Featured role for playing Maurice Montesor in "Wrong Mountain."

His other iconic roles include  Selsfon Mowbray in the Roundabout Theatre revival of "Noises Off" aired in 2016. The 2018 production, "The Low Road," featured him as the economist, Adam Smith, an unseen narrator in the play.

Fran Drescher and Daniel Davis having a "The Nanny" reunion at the "Under my Skin" Opening Night After Party on May 15, 2014 | Photo: Getty Images



Like Davis, many of the other cast members of "The Nanny" moved on with their lives professionally after the sitcom went off-air. Having gotten a glimpse into Daniel Davis' would-be future after the show, wondering about the fate of his co-stars is only appropriate.

Fran Drescher, the Nanny, is now 60 but is as active as she was 20 years ago. She continued in showbiz after the sitcom ended and has since starred in "Happily Divorced" and the Broadway rendition of "Cinderella." She has endured two divorces and has no kids.

Charles Shaughnessy, who played Maxwell Sheffield, is 63 and happily married with two daughters. He has made appearances in movies like "Mad Men" and "Days Of Our Lives."


Madeline Zima starred as the youngest Sheffield sibling, Grace. The child star has grown into a 32-year-old woman with impressive movie credits in "A Cinderella Story" and "Californication."

The other Sheffield sibling, Maggie Sheffield, played by Nichole Tom, is now 40. Additionally, she has snagged roles in iconic dramas like "Criminal Minds," "Cold Case," and "The Princess Diaries" over the years.


Benjamin Salisbury and Lauren Lane, who played Brighton Sheffield and C.C Babcock, have quit acting for good. Before saying goodbye to showbiz, however, they landed a few acting gigs.

To the delight of fans, this amiable crew reunited in April 2020 for a special pandemic reunion via zoom, and their vibes over 20 years later left most yearning for the return of the fan-favorite sitcom.