Actress/Activist Ruby Dee Dead at 91

ruby dee-1

Another Legend has gone home.

Ruby Dee dead at 91: Legendary stage and screen actress — and Civil Rights leader — frequently costarred with husband Ossie Davis

Family member confirms death. Dee was living in New Rochelle.
BY Joe Neumaier , Joe Dziemianowicz , Nancy Dillon /

Stage and screen legend Ruby Dee, who personified grace, grit and progress at a time when African-American women were given little space in movies and on stage, died Wednesday in New Rochelle, N.Y. She was 91.

The death was confirmed Thursday by a family member, who declined to answer any questions pending the release of a statement.

“She died late (Wednesday) with her whole family around her,” family friend Latifah Salahudin told the Daily News. “All three kids and seven grandkids were there, surrounding her with so much love. She went peacefully from natural causes. We should all be so lucky.”

“She was so full of life and so strong. Such a powerful woman. We’re all going to miss her,” Salahudin added.

ruby dee-8

The Cleveland-born, New York-raised actress and activist — winner of an Emmy, a Grammy and a Screen Actors Guild award, among others — not only starred on Broadway (“Take It From the Top!” “Two Hah Hahs and a Homeboy”), film (Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” and “Jungle Fever”), and TV (“All God’s Children,” “Feast of All Saints”), but, with her husband and collaborator Ossie Davis, was a major figure in the Civil Rights movement.

Read more:

ruby dee-4

ruby dee-2

ruby dee-3

ruby dee-5

ruby dee-6

ruby dee-7

This entry was posted in Black History, Civil Rights, Culture, Freedom, History, Memorial, Open Thread and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Actress/Activist Ruby Dee Dead at 91

  1. rikyrah says:

    Spike Lee’s Tribute to Ruby Dee: ‘A Living Example That One Could Be An Artist and Activist’
    The filmmaker paid his respects to the legendary actress, who starred in his films Do the Right Thing and Jungle Fever. Dee passed away on Wednesday at the age of 91.
    Ruby Dee, the legendary actress, poet, and Civil Rights activist, passed away on Wednesday in New York. She was 91.

    Born Ruby Ann Wallace, the Harlem native was a dynamo on stage and screen, starring in the 1961 film A Raisin in the Sun, winning Obie and Drama Desk Awards for the play Boesman and Lena, and earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her turn as the feisty mother to Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas, played by Denzel Washington, in the 2007 film American Gangster.

    She was also a trailblazer who paved the way for young African-American actors and filmmakers to break through during the height of segregation. Dee was married to Ossie Davis, the actor, activist, and WWII veteran, from 1948 until his death in 2005. The pair appeared in 11 stage productions and five films together, including Davis’s first feature film, 1959’s No Way Out, which also starred Sidney Poitier, and later, in the Spike Lee films Do the Right Thing and Jungle Fever. In 2004, Dee and Davis were recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors, who described the duo as “one of the most revered couples of the American stage, two of the most prolific and fearless artists in American culture. As individuals and as a team they have created profound and lasting work that has touched us all. With courage and tenacity they have thrown open many a door previously shut tight to African American artists and planted the seed for the flowering of America’s multicultural humanity.”

  2. Yahtc says:

  3. Yahtc says:

    “We have lost another Tall Tree. What a life and an example of how to live it richly. When I mentioned her from the Tony Awards stage on Sunday, it was heartfelt. She and Ossie spent time with me during the staging of the Raisin revival ten years ago, and I will never forget her passion for the play; and her example as a true American theatre artist that inspired many of us to speak through our art.

    They don’t get better than Ruby. Maya and Ruby leave us only days apart – those two women with four letter names instructed us on how to live. She will be missed but never forgotten as she lives on in many of us.”
    Director Kenny Leon.

  4. Yahtc says:

  5. Yahtc says:

    Uploaded on Nov 11, 2010 NCVS
    Ruby Dee gave a wonderfully powerful speech at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service. As a true icon for service leaders and volunteers throughout the country, Ruby Dee was truly inspirational.”

  6. Yahtc says:

    Hank Stewart’s poetry tribute to Ms Ruby Dee Davis:

  7. Yahtc says:

    Published on June 12, 2014 by WorldMedia

  8. Yahtc says:

  9. Yahtc says:

    “Tributes pour in for actress and activist Ruby Dee”

  10. Ametia says:

    The Black & White photo of Ruby Dee is STUNNING.

  11. Rikyrah, this thread gives me goosebumps. You did an outstanding job. It’s soo good. Thank you! I swear, you and Ametia find the best photos.

  12. Ametia says:

    Sail on in the Cosmic Sea of Light & Love, Ms Ruby Dee. Thank you for gracing us with your beauty, brilliance, activism, and LOVE.

  13. Liza says:

    Ruby Dee was gorgeous.

    May you rest in peace, Ms. Dee.

  14. Yahtc says:

    “The kind of beauty I want most is the hard-to-get kind that comes from within — strength, courage, dignity.”
    Ruby Dee

  15. Yahtc says:

  16. Yahtc says:

  17. rikyrah says:

    Spike Lee ✔ @SpikeLee

    Our Saints Ruby Dee And Ossie Davis In Their Magnificent Performances As Lucinda PurifyAnd The Good…

  18. rikyrah says:

    Reverend Al Sharpton ✔ @TheRevAl

    Ruby Dee, a legendary actress, artist,, and activist has passed. I knew her and admired her greatly. A jewel of a women.

  19. rikyrah says:

    Omar Moore @popcornreel

    Ruby Dee was an institution. A goddess. A fine activist. She had a towering presence on screen and off it that was undeniable.

  20. rikyrah says:

    “Fifty years of being married, and what have I learned from it all? I say to my fellow husbands — whose eyeballs may be covered with lust — that the way to possess all women is to love one woman well.- Ossie Davis

    “We understood that neither of us was going to leave. The wedding is an event. The marriage is a lifetime.” — Ruby Dee

  21. Yahtc says:

  22. Yahtc says:

  23. rikyrah says:

    RIP Ms. Dee. Not only for your talent, but your dedication to uplifting us all.
    Now, you’re back with Ozzie.

  24. Yahtc says:

    Thank you, rikyrah, for creating this wonderful tribute to Ms. Ruby Dee, may she rest in peace.

Leave a Reply