Ruby Dee Dies Aged 91: Remembering The Actress, Poet And Activist
The 'American Gangster' star has passed away.
Ruby Dee, star of stage, screen and written word, died yesterday at her home in New Rochelle, New York. A pioneer at a time when African-American actors were given very little space on stage or screen, Dee was the proud winner of an Emmy, a Grammy, a Screen Actors Guild award, and an Oscar nomination during her long and illustrious career.
A family member confirmed the new today, via NY Daily News, but declined to comment further on any more details, such as the cause of death.
Born Ruby Wallace on the 27th October 1922 in Cleveland, Ohio, Dee was raised in Harlem, New York. She made several appearances on Broadway before her first film role in 1949, in the musical drama That Man of Mine. She then played Rachel Robinson in The Jackie Robinson Story in 1950, and starred alongside Nat King Cole, Eartha Kitt and Cab Calloway in 1958's St. Louis Blues.
A presence on New York stages for four decade, Dee notably starred in both the 1953 Broadway premiere of A Raisin in the Sun, Sidney Poitier's wife in the film eight years later.
Dee was not only revered for a career that spanned all major forms of media but also for her social, cultural activism and civil rights work alongside her late actor husband, Ossie Davis, who died in 2005. Davis was Ruby's second husband after her marriage to Frankie Dee Brown, from 1941 to 1945, from whom she acquired her surname.
Davis and Dee first met when they appeared together on stage in the play Jeb in 1946 and married in late 1948. The pair penned a joint autobiography which caused controversy with its advocating of open marriage by saying that lies, not extramarital affairs, destroy marriages.
Ruby was long-standing member of such organizations as the Congress of Racial Equality, the NAACP, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She and her husband were personal friends of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Dee also gave a stirring reading at the famous King's March on Washington.
After a long career, Dee finally gained a Oscar nomination at age 83 for best supporting actress for her role in the 2007 film American Gangster; a role which earned her an Emmy.
Dee's final film was the still-in-production Ice-T crime drama King Dog.
Actress, Activist, Poet & Playwright Ruby Dee Has Died Aged 91.