Ruby Dee Dead at 91; Emmy Winner, Oscar Nominee and Activist

Ruby Dee Dead at 91

Celebrated actress Ruby Dee “took her final bow” and died of natural causes on Wednesday at her home in New Rochelle, N.Y., her daughter Nora told The Associated Press. Dee was 91.

In addition to being an actress on stage, screen, TV and radio, Dee — often alongside second husband Ossie Davis, whom she met in 1945 while (successfully) auditioning to star opposite him in the Broadway play Jeb — was an activist who fought for civil rights.

On TV, Dee’s resume included Peyton Place (as surgeon’s wife Alma Miles), Roots: The Next Generation, Stephen King’s The Stand and voice work for the Nick Jr. series Little Bill. She amassed six Primetime Emmy nominations, winning in 1991 for the Hallmark Hall of Fame telepic Decoration Day, opposite Michael Landon. She also collected several Daytime Emmy nods.

Her most recent TV project was narrating the Lifetime move Betty & Coretta.

Dee’s illustrious big screen career included but was by no means limited to The Jackie Robinson Story, A Raisin in the Sun (in which she and Davis reprised their roles from the original 1959 Broadway production) and 2007’s American Gangster, for which she earned an Academy Award nomination.

Dee is survived by her and Davis’ three daughters and one son. Davis passed in 2005.

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  1. Znachki says:

    I am saddened by the loss of such a great lady, but grateful to have seen her wonderful work. Rest in peace with your beloved.

  2. LaLa says:

    I am so grateful for the example set by Mrs. Ruby Dee. As stated above, she (and her husband) was a tireless activist for Civil Rights. They both had relationships with Malcolm X and Martin L. King, Jr. They both emcee’d the March on Washington. Ms. Ruby was also a gifted actress – known for so many roles on and off Broadway, on TV and in the movies. And, finally, she and her husband, Ossie Davis, were the epitome of strong Black love and marriage throughout the years. Oh, what a national treasure we have lost. She has earned her rest. Will we miss you, Mother Ruby.

  3. wamboyil says:

    Just one clarification: It’s “Stephen King’s The Stand”, not “The Last Stand”. And Ms. Dee was awesome as Mother Abigail. RIP.

  4. Justin Burnell says:

    Reblogged this on THB Files and commented:
    It’s so damn sad to hear about her devastated loss. Ruby Dee was a great actress. My three favorite movies that she was featured was “American Gangster”, “Do The Right Thing” and “Jungle Fever”. RIP Ruby Dee.

  5. Joey Padron says:

    Sad to hear about her passing. Thoughts and prayers go out to her family.

  6. TvPeong says:

    May her soul and all the faithful departed rest in peace

  7. herman1959 says:

    –Just heard. Ms. Dee was always the consummate professional.