In many of the obituaries and probably in most people's memories, John Vernon will forever be linked to the role of Dean Vernon Wormer in "National Lampoon's Animal House". And we also have him repeating that role in the TV follow-up, 'Delta House'.
But for me, my favorite role of John Vernon's was that of Geoffrey Darro in the TV movie/pilot 'The Questor Tapes'. I've always had a strange fondness for the type of character he played - those who knew there was no chance of survival and still they push forward, making the ultimate sacrifice. But with Darro, there was a refreshing selfishness to his sacrifice, that it still served his own ends.
As for Ossie Davis, the role that always first comes to mind is that of the Judge in 'The Stand'. It is another of those roles where a character knowingly marches towards Death for the greater good. And he brought to it a quiet dignity that isn't often seen in what is essentially an extended horror flick. And that he came to the role with little preparation (due to the death of the actor previously attached to the part) shows how much of an artisan he was.
But in truth, it's for another character that I like to think of Ossie Davis, and actually, it's not even for the way he played it. It's because of the character's name.
Ponder Blue. I'm a big fan of the art of coining names, which Lin Carter dubbed "neocognomina". And there is something about "Ponder Blue" which has poetry in it.
I wish both of these gentlemen godspeed and offer my thanks for what they brought to the Toobworld table.