Ruby Dee, Legendary Actress and Activist, Dies at 91

Emmy winner and Civil Rights leader was a pioneer in Black Hollywood.

Posted: 06/12/2014 12:50 PM EDT


Hollywood lost an icon on Wednesday night. Stage and screen legend Ruby Dee has died, a family member confirms. Dee was at her home in New Rochelle, New York and surrounded by loved ones when she passed. She was 91 years old.

The Cleveland-born, New York-raised actress and activist — winner of an Emmy, a Grammy and a Screen Actors Guild award, among others — was an icon on Broadway, cinema and television. With her husband and collaborator Ossie Davis, she was also a major figure in the Civil Rights movement.

Dee’s first film role came in 1949, in the musical drama That Man of Mine. She worked frequently with Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever) and earned an Academy Award nomination in 2007 for Best Supporting Actress for American Gangster.

She appeared in the 1979 TV movie Roots: The Next Generation, and costarred with husband Davis in their own short-lived show, Ossie and Ruby! in 1980.

Her final film was the still-in-production crime drama King Dog, opposite Ice-T.

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  (Photo: Mark Mainz/Getty Images for NAACP)

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