Nation & World News

Legendary Actress Ruby Dee Dies At 91

By Scott Neuman on June 12th, 2014

Editors’ Note: An earlier version of this post, as well as an accompanying breaking news alert, incorrectly stated that Ruby Dee had won an Oscar for her role in American Gangster. Dee was nominated for the award but did not win.

Ruby Dee, an actress and civil rights activist who built a career 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, the weary wife and mother in the 1961 film A Raisin in the Sun. She starred alongside Sidney Poitier. Dee was also nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for the 2007 film American Gangster.

NPR’s Elizabeth Blair reports that Dee, whose career spanned 70 years, “was known for a graceful intensity on screen and stage.”

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.”

Blair says the couple were leaders in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington in 1963 and actively promoted the works of fellow Black artists.

The AP says:

“Since meeting on Broadway in 1946, she and her late husband were frequent collaborators. Their partnership rivaled the achievements of other celebrated performing couples, such as Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy.

“But they were more than a performing couple. They were also activists who fought for civil rights, particularly for blacks.

” ‘We used the arts as part of our struggle,’ she said at an appearance in Jackson, Miss., in 2006. ‘Ossie said he knew he had to conduct himself differently with skill and thought.’ ”

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

Vincenzo Nibali First Italian In 15 Years To Win Tour De France

The cyclist had dominated the Tour, wearing the yellow jersey through all but two stages of the grueling three-week competition.


Image released by the U.S. State Department showing what it says is evidence of Russia firing artillery into eastern Ukraine.

U.S.: Satellite Images Show Russian Rockets Hitting Ukraine

The State Department says the photos show burn marks from the firing of multiple rocket launchers inside Russia and resulting craters on the other side of the border.


Hank Johnson displays his Glock handgun, inside his home in Springboro, Ohio. D.C. lawmakers had hoped to maintain a ban on carrying handguns in public, but a district court last week overturned it.

Judges Overturns D.C. Ban On Handguns In Public

A district court judge says the law that prohibited people from carrying handguns outside their homes violates the Second Amendment.


Birth Of 100-Millionth Person In Philippines Greeted With Joy, Concern

Chonalyn, a 6-pound girl, was born Sunday morning in a Manila hospital. But the head of the country’s population commission says it will be a challenge to provide for so many people.


The entrance of the compounds of the U.S. embassy is pictured in Tripoli on Saturday. Fighting continues to rage after the U.S. evacuated the diplomatic facility.

Libyan Conflict Rages After U.S. Shuts Embassy

Fighting in the country’s east has killed at least 38 people since the U.S. on Saturday temporarily closed its embassy in the capital, citing security concerns.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments