On Thursday June 11, surrounded by loved ones in her New York home, actress Ruby Dee died. The Cleveland, Ohio, native started her career in projects like the soap opera Guiding Light (1952) and bio-film, The Jackie Robinson Story (1950). Dee since had a career that seemed to only get better with age.
Born in 1922, the starlet took on roles of sophisticated, empowering women, such as her conquering role as Annie Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Delany in Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years (1999). This was a film based on a true story of two sisters that both live past the age of 100. Dee’s character (the younger of the 2 sisters) grew up in the late 1800s and early 1900s and faced sexism, racism, and several other challenges, but surpassed them all and went on to become the second African-American dentist.
Ruby Dee not only performed, she lived through the characters she portrayed and allowed viewers to look inside of her to see the truth. Some of her more noted roles might be Spike Lee’s classic, Do the Right Thing (1989), where she played alongside her late husband Ossie Davis; and the role that earned her an Oscar nomination along side Denzel Washington, American Gangster (2007). The timeless figure did not only shine for the cameras, but also as a positive figure in society.
Ruby Dee was an activist and a very powerful influence to generations of actors, actresses, and even directors such as recent Tony winner Kenny Leon as he recreated another role Ruby had already made legendary (alongside Sidney Poitier) in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin In the Sun (1962). Among her many achievements, she received Emmys, a Nation Civil Right’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and a NAACP Image Award. The Broadway sensation had 3 children; Nora Day Davis, Hasna Muhammed Davis, and Guy Davis. The legendary performer leaves behind over 100 credited performances. She was 91.