Character actor Ossie Davis, who appeared in more than 50 movies, including Jungle Fever, has died at age 87.

According to a spokesperson in his office, the actor was found dead Friday in a motel room in Miami, where he was working on a movie called Retirement.

An outspoken booster of the black community, Davis was almost as well-known for his civil-rights work as for his appearances on the silver screen.

He was also known for his distinct, warm voice, which he lent to the long-running television campaign for the United Negro College Fund. Viewers in the U.S. might not have been familiar with the actor's stage and screen work, but they knew the phrase "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."

Perhaps his most memorable role came in 1991 in the Spike Lee film Jungle Fever.

He played the Good Reverend Doctor Purify, the unyielding patriarch who is father to Wesley Snipes's Flipper and Samuel L. Jackson's Gator.

Davis was also seen recently in Bubba Ho-Tep, the 2002 comic horror film that had him starring as an allegedly still-living, and black, John F. Kennedy.

Davis was married to fellow entertainer Ruby Dee, with whom he had three children.

He made his Broadway debut in 1946, and appeared for the first time on the big screen in 1950's No Way Out, alongside Sidney Poitier.

The Internet Movie Database lists him as the director of five films, including 1970's Cotton Comes to Harlem.

In 2004, Davis and Dee, who often starred opposite each other, received Kennedy Center Honors for their body of work.

Davis was a speaker at the funerals of both Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Davis re-staged the eulogy he gave for the latter in Lee's 1992 film Malcolm X.