Queen Ruby Dee, legendary actress and civil rights activist, has passed at 91. According to her daughter, Nora Davis Day, Ruby died of natural causes at her home Wednesday in New Rochelle, NY. She now joins her beloved husband of 56 years, the great Ossie Davis, who passed in 2005.
Dee’s career goes back to the 1940s, beginning with a small part in the Harlem production “On Striver’s Row.” From there she went on to be the first black woman to perform at the American Shakespeare festival in 1965. She won an Emmy in 1990, Screen Actors’ Guild Lifetime Achievement award in 2000, Grammy for best spoken word album in 2007, and that same year an Oscar nomination at 85 for best supporting actress in American Gangster, playing Denzel Washington’s less than tolerant mother.
A longtime activist, she and husband, Davis, marched on Washington in 1963 with Martin Luther King, Jr. as the Masters of ceremonies. They were arrested in 1999 while protesting the shooting death of Amadou Diallo.
"You may be changing your life emphasis, but there's still things that you have in mind to do that now seems the right time to do,” she told the Associated Press in 2001. “I really don't believe in retiring as long as you can breathe."
The Shadow League sends our love, condolences and prayers to the Great Ruby Dee and her family. Stay tuned to TSL for more extensive coverage of the passing of this icon, Hollywood, and civil rights great.