Keith David: Exploring the Iconic Voice Behind Mufasa and More

Keith David Williams, born June 4, 1956, is a highly regarded American actor known for his commanding voice and versatile roles in over 300 productions spanning film, TV, and interactive media.

Notable works include The Thing (1982), Platoon (1986), and voice roles like Dr. Facilier in The Princess and the Frog (2009).

He’s also acclaimed for his narration in Ken Burns documentaries and has a significant presence in video games, such as The Arbiter in the Halo franchise.

An image of Keith David
Keith David.


Early Life And Education

David entered the world on June 4, 1956, in Harlem, New York City, and spent his formative years in Corona, Queens.

His mother, Dolores (formerly Dickenson), held the position of a manager at New York Telephone, while his father, Lester Williams, served as a director of payroll operations.

Originally aspiring to pursue a career in acting, David’s interest ignited when he portrayed the Cowardly Lion in a school rendition of The Wizard of Oz.

This experience led him to enroll at Manhattan’s High School of Performing Arts.

Subsequently, he continued his education at the Drama Division of the Juilliard School from 1975 to 1979 as part of Group 8, culminating in the attainment of a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1979.


Film and television

In the early 1980s, David began his on-screen career after touring with John Houseman’s The Acting Company.

Notable roles followed in films like The Thing and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

His diverse filmography includes Platoon, They Live, and Dead Presidents.

He gained acclaim in Requiem for a Dream and portrayed “Father” in Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

David has been a regular presence on television since the 1980s, with roles in series like The Job and The Big House.

His film career expanded with appearances in Hawaii Five-0 and films such as Smiley, Cloud Atlas, and Boiling Pot.

In 2010, he took on the role of Max Malini in The Cape. Later, he played Command Sergeant Major Donald Cody in Enlisted and Elroy Patashnik in Community’s sixth season.

In 2015, David starred in the Oprah Winfrey Network drama series Greenleaf alongside Lynn Whitfield.

Voice acting

David is a prolific voice actor known for his roles in Adventure Time, Gargoyles, Spawn, and Archer.

He has contributed to video games such as Fallout, Planescape: Torment, and the Halo series.

His versatile voice extends to Saints Row, animated series like Justice League and Teen Titans, and documentaries for PBS, the History Channel, National Geographic, and BBC.

He earned an Emmy for his narration in The War and Unforgivable Blackness.

David’s narration also graced events like Kansas City’s Celebration at the Station and the MLB Network special Mr. Padre.

He returned to Saints Row IV, portrayed Frederick Douglass in God in America, and became the narrator of The Bible on the History Channel.

David’s diverse roles include voicing characters in Hercules, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Coraline, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, The Princess and the Frog, and The Spectacular Spider-Man.

In Destiny 2: The Final Shape, he assumed the role of Commander Zavala.

Stage acting

In 1992, David earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical in Jelly’s Last Jam.

Renowned for his Shakespearean performances in Central Park, he later played the lead in August Wilson’s Seven Guitars on Broadway in 1995.

David also participated in the 1995 Apollo revival of The Wiz alongside Whitney Houston.

Noteworthy Broadway appearances include Hot Feet in 2006 and the 2013 revival of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone in Los Angeles.

In 2014, David excelled in the Ebony Repertory Theatre’s production of Paul Robeson.

From April 21 to May 10, 2015, he starred in the off-Broadway play ToasT, portraying “Dolomite” and delving into the lives of Attica Prison’s prisoners during the 1971 riot through poetic prose.

 Keith David’s Personal Life

He has married twice. He has one son from his first marriage and two daughters from his second marriage.

When asked in an interview on his narration work of The Bible if he was a religious man, he said: I’m not a religious man.

I’m a man of spirit. Religion can get political.

I believe in God and spirit.

I believe in the church. I’ve been baptized.

I’ve gone to Catholic, Baptist, Episcopal, and Church of God in Christ.

“In the same interview, he credited his success to God’s grace and said his favorite scripture is Psalm 116.

During a live Twitter Q&A in 2017, David listed Dr. Facilier, Spawn, and Goliath as his three favorite voice roles.

In April 2023, David endorsed author and Democratic primary challenger Marianne Williamson for president in the 2024 elections.

Keith David’s Net worth

He possesses a net worth of $5 million.

His career has spanned various roles and accomplishments.


Keith David, born David Williams, is a highly regarded American actor celebrated for over 300 diverse roles in film, TV, and interactive media.

Notable for iconic works like “The Thing” and “Platoon,” as well as acclaimed voice roles, he has showcased versatility and longevity in his career.

With a net worth of $5 million, David’s recent endorsement of Marianne Williamson for president in 2024 adds a political dimension to his multifaceted legacy.









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