Fred Davis ’74

The Player

By Donna Parker

Fred Davis’ “absolutely perfect” life as a Trinity student was altered dramatically when his young father died unexpectedly when Fred was a sophomore.

“December 27 is the day my life changed by far more than any other. One second I was a drama student and the next I was ‘Dad’ to my siblings,” says Davis ’74, who took over his father’s public relations firm in Tulsa.

Passionately interested in theater, Fred satisfied his thirst by writing and directing commercials in Oklahoma, but drama beckoned and Fred headed west to the Hills of Beverly…where as a successful media consultant, he’s never lost his Midwest grounding.

“I’m glad I haven’t lost my hick accent either. Being from Oklahoma has served me well in California.”

Apparently so because Fred’s newest client is the governor of that state, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Fred admits to being star struck, laughingly telling of the Terminator smoking his cigar in the non-smoking Sacramento hotel that is his residence …hotel staff having firmly told Fred moments before that the Governor “never” smokes in the hotel.

Make no mistake about it, though, Fred is a shining star in his own right. He was the media consultant who led President George W. Bush to second term victory in 2004. The owner of Strategic Perception Inc. in Hollywood counts Dan Quayle and singer Joe Cocker among his closest friends but singles out Paul Baker, his former drama professor, as his muse and inspiration.

“His first lecture influences everything I do today,” he says.

Professor Baker walked in with a 2 x 4, closed his eyes and told an engaging story about how that wood and everything we encounter shapes our lives.

“He opened my eyes to thinking differently and taught me you don’t have to hit people over the head to have them understand.”

Fred continues to think outside the box, refusing to be “hired” without spending at least one whole day with potential political clients. He quietly observes them, paying close attention to how well they treat staff.

“The real difference comes if I like them or not. I’ve sure turned a lot of them down,” he comments, adding “It’s a feeling you just can’t imagine when you help the guy get the job and you know his heart is in the right place.”

It would seem that Fred himself has found his heart to be in the right place alongside wife Sarah, their daughter, and 8-year-old granddaughter Kaitlyn.

“My mom would love for me to come back to Oklahoma, but I’ve lucked into a house that overlooks Santa Barbara and the Pacific. It’s heaven on earth and I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”