Like the reassuring sound of an often-played but treasured 45, the soulful performance of Cynthia Davis as Brenda in Michael Schultz's extraordinary Cooley High feels sweeter and sweeter with each passing year. A total novice when she appeared in Cooley High, Davis' work has continued to haunt the many, like myself, who have remained touched by Schultz's powerful coming of age story set in mid-sixties Chicago.
Cooley High remains the one and only on-screen credit for Cynthia Davis, a sublimely gifted beauty who pulled one of the greatest disappearing acts in cinematic history after its release. Graceful, poetic and witty, Davis had a strikingly subtle quality about her and, I believe, could have developed into one of the most interesting actors of the seventies had she not dropped out of sight after appearing in Schultz's powerful work.
Fans moved and tantalized by her work as Brenda in Cooley High have wondered about the whereabouts of Cynthia Davis for decades. Rumors have swirled about what exactly happened to Davis for years, with no real hard facts appearing, but most signs point to the notion that she retired from acting after Cooley's High's release to start and raise a family. Perhaps it is the fact that she never appeared in another film that makes her performance feel so resonate, but, like a particularly sweet memory from my youth, I have never quite been able to shake Cynthia Davis' role in Cooley High and while I often wonder what happened to her perhaps not knowing makes her work all the more special.
-Jeremy Richey, 2012-