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María DeCastro Blake 
Community Service Award
2007 Honoree

Raúl Dávila
Television, theatre, and film, actor and producer

Raúl Dávila was born, raised and educated in Santurce, Puerto Rico. He enrolled at the University of Puerto Rico but transferred to Tulane University in New Orleans, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree. Raúl earned a Masters Degree in Dramatic Arts from the Pasadena Playhouse in California. He also served in the US Army during the Korean War.

Dávila began his acting career in Puerto Rico in 1957 at the Telemundo television station. He performed in more than 20 locally produced soap operas and founded two theater companies, La Máscara and Teatro Incorporado, which generated a broad array of theatrical productions.

After six years at Telemundo, Raúl moved to New York City, where he performed in The King and I, Kismet, and The Sound of Music at Lincoln Center. He was a founding member of Channel 47, the Spanish language television station in New Jersey, where he also worked as Program Director. Raúl produced and co-hosted The Myrta Silva Show and hosted Tribuna Hispana, which was followed by Mundo Latino, De tú a tú con Raúl, Realidades and The Puerto Rican New Yorker. These programs provided entertainment, public service and commentary on issues relevant to the Latino community.

Raúl Dávila co-founded the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA), an institution established to celebrate Latino achievements in the field of entertainment. He also presided over the organization at various times during its history. Shortly after settling in New York City Raúl made multiple appearances on popular mainstream television shows, soap operas, theatrical productions, films and commercials. Most noted among these are the daytime series All My Children, the films The Believers and La Gran Fiesta, and the Spanish version of the play Who is Afraid of Virginia Wolf?

Raúl was fiercely proud of his Puerto Rican heritage and worked hard to ensure that Hispanic actors received the respect and opportunities they deserved in the film and television industry. He worked hard to improve the quality of life of Latinos in Newark, New Jersey. During the 1970s he served as liaison between the Latino Community and the administration of Mayor Kenneth Gibson of Newark. He was selected twice to serve as the Grand Marshall of the Puerto Rican Day Parade.

Although he made his home in New Jersey, Raúl traveled constantly to Puerto Rico, where he played the lead role in the television comedy Carmelo y Punto and acted in three locally produced films, Linda Sara (with Chayanne and Dayanara Torres), Milagro en Yauco and Los Días de Doria.

Raúl Dávila died at his home in Newark, New Jersey on January 2, 2006. The cause of death was a heart attack. On January 6, 2006, New York Democratic Congressman José Serrano submitted a statement to the Congressional Record honoring Dávila. In March 2007, the Newark City Council passed a resolution renaming a section of Heller Parkway in North Newark, the Raúl Dávila Plaza.

Raúl is survived by his wife Isabel Pérez Dávila, and children Helen Melissa, Ysabel and Raúl.

Prepared by Isabel Dávila


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