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

    South Sudan Sends First Ever Official Olympic Team to Rio

    VOA caught up with Santino Kenyi, 16, one of three athletes who will compete in this year's summer games in Brazil

    Arrest of Malawi's 'Hyena' Man Highlights Clash of Ritual, Health and Women's Rights

    Ritual practice of deflowering young girls is blamed for spreading deadly AIDS virus

    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    VOA finds things Americans take for granted are special to foreigners

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Take It From The Top: Stanley Jordani
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    May 17, 2016 5:01 PM
    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously. He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously.  He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

     

     

     

     

    Blogs