Actress and Activist Ruby Dee Dead at 91

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Now she can join her long-time husband and acting partner Ossie Davis. Ruby Dee was Mother Sister, the old black woman who observes the neighborhood goings-ons from the window of her tenement in Spike Lee’s DO THE RIGHT THING in 1990. In 1950 she played the wife of Jackie Robinson opposite the ball player himself in THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY. Ruby Dee’s seven-decade career included triumphs and awards on stage, screen, print, and in the arena of civil rights. Her many movie credits credits included A RAISIN IN THE SUN (1961), BUCK AND THE PREACHER (1972),and AMERICAN GANGSTER (2007) for which she received an Oscar nom for Best Supporting Actress. Ruby Dee died today 91.


SAG-AFTRA Mourns the Loss of SAG Life Achievement Award Recipient Ruby Dee in this statement:

SAG-AFTRA today released the following statement on the death of actor, activist and SAG Life Achievement recipient Ruby Dee:

SAG-AFTRA mourns the loss of SAG Life Achievement Award recipient Ruby Dee, who died yesterday at the age of 91. The multitalented Dee distinguished herself as an actor, writer and activist and received the Life Achievement Award in 2000 with husband Ossie Davis. They were only the second husband-and-wife team to win the award, the other being Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in 1985. Dee was predeceased by Davis in 2005.

As she accepted the award, Dee spoke of the power of the acting profession.

“We are artists also, and workers above all. We are image-makers,” She said. “Why can’t we image-makers become peacemakers too? Why cannot we, in such a time as this, use all the magic of our vaunted powers to lift the pistol from the schoolboy’s backpack and replace it with bright images of peace, with images of hope and faith in humankind? Of life lit by some large vision of goodness and beauty and truth?”

“Ruby Dee was truly one of a kind. She was a woman who believed deeply in fairness, a conviction that motivated her lifelong efforts to advance civil rights,” said SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard. “The acting community — and the world — is a poorer place for her loss.”

From Variety:

Ruby Dee, best known for her role in 1961’s “A Raisin in the Sun” and latterly for her Oscar-nominated turn as Denzel Washington’s mother in 2007’s “American Gangster,” died Wednesday in New York. She was 91.

Dee’s Oscar nomination in 2008 for her performance as the feisty mother of a Harlem druglord played by Washington in Ridley Scott’s “American Gangster” was particularly impressive because the actress made an impression on the Motion Picture Academy with only 10 minutes of screen time. She won a SAG Award for the same performance.

Dee also won an Emmy in 1991 for her performance in the “Hallmark Hall of Fame” movie “Decoration Day.”

She and her husband, Ossie Davis, who often performed together, were among the first generation of African-American actors, led by Sidney Poitier, afforded the opportunity for significant, dignified dramatic roles in films, onstage and on television…….

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