Legendary actress Ruby Dee died yesterday at her home in New Rochelle. Dee, a pioneering force for African-American actresses and an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement, was 91 years old.
Dee was born in Cleveland, Ohio but raised in Harlem, attending Hunter College High School and then Hunter College. She rose to prominence as an actress in the late 1940s and early 1950s, performing on Broadway before starring in the 1950 film, The Jackie Robinson Story. She also starred alongside Sidney Poitier in A Raisin in the Sun and Edge of the City. Later, she had a key role in Spike Lee's explosive 1989 film, Do The Right Thing; she also played Denzel Washington's mother in 2007's American Gangster, and received an Oscar nomination for her role.
Dee, who was married to fellow actor and activist Ossie Davis from 1948 until his death in 2005, was a driving force during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, and a member of activist groups like the NAACP and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. She and Davis both received received the National Civil Rights Museum’s Lifetime Achievement Freedom award in 2005.
A spokesperson for the Dee family told the Associated Press Dee died peacefully at home yesterday.
RIP, Ruby Dee—a lifelong NY'er whose mark on the performing arts community & civil rights movement lives on, inspiring us to be better.
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) June 12, 2014