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

In the past year, the U.S. prison population fell by roughly 4,800, the first time in decades the number has gone down, according to the Justice Department. Attorney General Eric Holder discussed the findings at New York University's law school Tuesday.

Crime Falls As U.S. Locks Up Fewer People, Attorney General Holder Says

For the first time in more than 40 years, both the overall crime rate and the overall incarceration rate have fallen by around 10 percent in a roughly five-year span, the attorney general says.


Al-Qaida’s Khorasan Group Led By Hard-Core Fighters

The group, which was targeted by U.S. airstrikes in Syria last night, has been on the U.S. radar for a while. Intelligence officials say they have tracked its individual members for years.


President Barack Obama speaks at the UN Climate Summit Tuesday. Discussing America's past, Obama told the group, "We recognize our role in creating this problem."

Obama Calls For More Ambitious Approach To Climate Change In U.N. Speech

“There is such a thing as being too late,” President Obama says in his address to the U.N. Climate Summit. The White House is touting tools to boost “global resilience” in the face of climate change.


In some parts of the U.S., Starbucks is testing a latte flavored with roasted-stout notes along with its seasonal autumn drinks such as the Pumpkin Spice Latte, seen here at front.

Stoutaccino? Starbucks Tests Coffee With Beer Flavors

Reports that Starbucks is testing a new coffee drink for autumn that incorporates “toasty stout flavors” has set off a debate over how such a concoction might taste, and whether it’s a good idea.


President Obama closes his eyes as a prayer is offered at the National Prayer Breakfast in February in Washington, D.C.

More Americans Favor Mixing Religion And Politics, Survey Says

The poll by Pew’s Religion & Public Life Project also shows that three-quarters of survey participants believe religion’s influence on American life is waning.


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