News / Arts & Entertainment

Stage, Screen Actress Ruby Dee Dies at 91

FILE - Actress Ruby Dee arrives at The Film Society's Annual Gala Presentation of the 38th Annual Chaplin Award honoring award-winning actor Sidney Poitier in New York City, May 2, 2011.
FILE - Actress Ruby Dee arrives at The Film Society's Annual Gala Presentation of the 38th Annual Chaplin Award honoring award-winning actor Sidney Poitier in New York City, May 2, 2011.
Reuters
Legendary stage and screen actress Ruby Dee, who won acclaim on stage, in film and television and became a notable figure in the U.S. civil rights movement, died peacefully at home, a friend of the family said on Thursday.
 
The actress, who was 91 years old, died on Wednesday night in New Rochelle, New York, surrounded by her family.
 
“She died of natural causes,” said Arminda Thomas, who works for Dee's family. “She was blessed with old age.”
 
The petite actress won an Oscar nomination in 2008 for her role in “American Gangster.” After being nominated for six Emmys, she nabbed the award in 1991 for her role in the TV movie “Decoration Day.”
 
Dee was married to actor Ossie Davis for 56 years until his death in 2005. The couple, who had three children, formed a productive and enduring artistic and activist partnership. They performed together in plays and films and appeared together at some of the seminal events of the turbulent civil rights era.
 
The actress broke free from the racially stereotypical roles often given to black actresses when she began her career in the 1940s and continued to act into her 90s.
 
Friends and fans turned to Twitter to express their sadness.
 
“Words cannot express how much Ruby Dee inspired me to be who I am today. I will miss her dearly ...,” hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons tweeted.
 
Director Spike Lee said he was “crushed” and actress Angela Lansbury described Dee's death as “an irreplaceable loss.”
 
The couple were equally famous for their political activism, even as they paid a price in terms of their careers. They denounced Senator Joseph McCarthy's anti-Communist crusades of the 1950s and were blacklisted for a time. They also were investigated by FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover's agents.
 
They counted civil rights leader Martin Luther King and black activist Malcolm X among their friends and took part in marches for racial equality in the South.
 
Dee and Davis were emcees of the landmark 1963 March on Washington where King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.
 
The couple were honored in 2004 at the Kennedy Center in Washington for their lifetime contributions to theater, TV and movies, as well as their advocacy for equality.
 
The Kennedy Center recognized them as “two of the most prolific and fearless artists in American culture,” stating: “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.”
 
Dee was born as Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, the daughter of a train porter and a schoolteacher, and was raised in the Harlem section of New York City.
 
She attended Hunter College in New York, then joined the American Negro Theater in 1941 before making her way to Broadway. She also became the first black actress to perform lead roles at the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut.
 
In 1946, she appeared on Broadway with Davis, who also became a director and playwright, in “Jeb,” about a black soldier back from World War II who confronts the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan.
 
Dee's films include “The Jackie Robinson Story” (1950) in which she co-starred with Robinson, portraying himself in the tale of major league baseball's first black player, as well as “A Raisin in the Sun” (1961) with Sidney Poitier and Spike Lee's movies “Do the Right Thing” (1989) and “Jungle Fever” (1991).

You May Like

US Storm Falls Short of Severe Predictions, Yet Affects Millions

NYC mayor says, 'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' yet blizzard warnings, travel bans remain for several East Coast states More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle with Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people were displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

Singer Leyla McCalla takes up not only the guitar, but the banjo and cello to perform songs from her new disc, “A Tribute to Langston Hughes,” music that mixes the Creole rhythms of Haiti with the French Quarter flavor of New Orleans on this edition of "The Hamilton Live."