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

Less than a month after being airlifted from Liberia, Dr. Kent Brantly will be released from the hospital where he's been treated for Ebola.

At Least One American Ebola Patient Will Leave Atlanta Hospital, Group Says

The aid group Samaritan’s Purse says Dr. Kent Brantly will be discharged today. He and aid worker Nancy Writebol were flown back to the U.S. earlier this month after contracting the virus in Liberia.


Macy’s To Pay $650,000 In Settlement Over Alleged Racial Profiling

The agreement follows a similar deal earlier this month with Barneys. Customers of both department stores said they had been targeted as suspects of theft because of their race.


President Obama leaves after making a statement Wednesday about the killing of journalist James Foley in Syria. The president said the U.S. would continue to confront Islamic State extremists despite the brutal murder.

U.S. Forces Tried To Rescue Foley, Other Hostages In Syria

The mission earlier this summer, based on intelligence from released hostages, “was not successful because the hostages were not present at the targeted location,” the Pentagon reported.


A memorial of items sit in the middle of the road at the site where Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Mo. Any investigation into Brown's fatal shooting by a police officer is likely to take months.

Many Seek Justice In Ferguson, Mo., But Will Have To Wait Awhile

Demonstrators want an indictment of the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown earlier this month. But investigations — one of them a federal civil rights case — can take weeks, if not months.


Killer whales perform in Shamu Stadium at the SeaWorld Orlando theme park in Florida. SeaWorld says it will not appeal a citation that prohibits trainers from performing with the whales.

SeaWorld Won’t Appeal Ban On Trainers Performing With Orcas

The theme-park company received a citation in 2010 after an orca named Tilikum killed a trainer. Since then, SeaWorld has planned upgrades to its facilities and training. But it still faces criticism.


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