Committed To Service: Remembering Ruby Dee

ruby-dee

Legendary actress and cancer survivor Ruby Dee, who has been seen in strong roles for over four decades, died June 11, 2014 in New Rochelle, N.Y. She was 91. The death was confirmed by a family member, who declined to answer any questions pending the release of a statement.

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.

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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”.

Dee’s absence from the stage never dimmed her status as a trailblazer. Accepting her best actress Tony Award on June 8, Audra McDonald heralded a number including women, including Dee, saying, “I am standing on Lena Horne’s shoulders. I am standing on Maya Angelou’s shoulders. I am standing on Dianne Caroll and Ruby Dee.”

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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…