Arts

Actress Ruby Dee Dies At 91

NPR | June 12, 2014 10:35 a.m.

Contributed By:

Scott Neuman

Actress Ruby Dee and director Spike Lee attend a special 20th anniversary screening of Do the Right Thing, in New York, in 2009. Dee died Wednesday at age 91.

Actress Ruby Dee and director Spike Lee attend a special 20th anniversary screening of Do the Right Thing, in New York, in 2009. Dee died Wednesday at age 91.

Peter Kramer, AP

Ruby Dee, an actress and civil rights activist who built a career as on stage and screen at a time when African Americans had few such opportunities, has died at age 91.

Cleveland-born Dee, who was married for 56 years to fellow actor Ossie Davis until his death in 2005, also won an Emmy and was nominated for several others, The Associated Press reports.

Perhaps Dee’s best-known role was as Ruth Younger in the 1961 Raisin in the Sun. She starred alongside Sidney Poitier. Dee won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the 2007 American Gangster.

The New York Daily News writes:

 

“In 2005, Dee and Davis received the National Civil Rights Museum’s Lifetime Achievement Freedom award. Davis died in February of that year.

“Dee’s first film role came in 1949, in the musical drama That Man of Mine. She played Rachel Robinson in The Jackie Robinson Story in 1950, and costarred opposite Nat King Cole, Eartha Kitt and Cab Calloway in St. Louis Blues (1958).”

“Beyond her artistic work, Dee is best known for her work as an activist. She was long a member of such organizations as the Congress of Racial Equality, the NAACP, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), and Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She and Davis were personal friends of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, whose eulogy Davis gave in 1965, two years after Dee gave a stirring reading at King’s March on Washington.”

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