Legendary Actress Ruby Dee Dead at 91

Edna Owusu-Ansah June 12, 2014

Ruby Dee

Legendary actress and civil right activist Ruby Dee (pictured), whose seven-decade career included triumphs on stage, television, and film, has died at 91. According to her representative Michael Livingston, Dee died at her New Rochelle, N,Y., home on Wednesday.

SEE ALSO: Iconic Author and Poet Maya Angelou Dies at 86

Keep Up With Face2Face Africa On Facebook!

Born Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1922, she took the surname Dee after marrying blues singer Frankie Dee two decades later. She divorced Frankie Dee after a short marriage and later went on to marry Ossie Davis in 1948. Davis preceded his wife in death in 2005.

Dee started her acting career in New York in the early ’40s, but it was her role in the 1950 movie “The Jackie Robinson Story” that shot her to prominence.

Dee and Davis were a formidable force in civil right activism and  the performing arts. She was friends with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X and received the Frederick Douglass Award in 1970 from the National Urban League.

Dee earned an Oscar nomination for her performance in “American Gangster” (2007). She also won an Emmy and Grammy for other work.

Broadway star Audra McDonald paid tribute to Dee when she accepted a Tony Award last Sunday, crediting Dee, Maya Angelou, Diahann Carroll, and Billie Holiday for making her career possible. McDonald won a best actress Tony in 2004 for playing the same role Dee played on Broadway in 1959 and in the 1961 film version of “A Raisin in the Sun.”

May her gentle soul rest in peace.


View some of Ruby Dee’s life in pictures here:

SEE ALSO: Maya Angelou’s Great Accomplishments In Spite of Life’s Hardships Should Encourage All To Be Better


Face2face Africa invites you to join us for our annual Pan-African Weekend July 25-27 in NYC, honoring Dr. Mo Ibrahim, Alek Wek, Femi Kuti, Masai Ujiri, Bethlehem Alemu, and Dr. Oheneba Bochie-Adjei. Click here for more details and register to attend.

Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: September 15, 2018


Must Read

Connect with us

Join our Mailing List to Receive Updates