Nine years and four months after the death of her husband, iconic actress, activist, poet, Ruby Dee passed away at 91 years old.
Dee died peacefully Wednesday, June 11th at her New Rochelle, New York, home. Nora Davis Day told The Associated Press on Thursday that her mother died at home in New Rochelle on Wednesday night of “natural causes.”
Dee, who frequently acted alongside her husband of 56 years, Ossie Davis, was surrounded by family and friends, she added.
“We have had her for so long and we loved her so much,” Day said. “She took her final bow last night at home surrounded by her children and grandchildren.” Day added: “We gave her our permission to set sail,” said Day. “She opened her eyes, closed her eyes and away she went.”
Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1924, she was an actress, poet, screenwriter and activist who won a plethora of awards for her work including a Grammy, Emmy, Obie, Drama Desk, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Awards. She is a recipient of the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honors.
Her career span over seven decades beginning on Broadway where she made several appearances before receiving her first film role in 1949, in the musical drama “That Man of Mine.” She received national recognition for her role in the 1950 film The Jackie Robinson Story and gained acclaim in starring roles including the 1960s film “A Raisin in the Sun,” several Spike Lee movies, such as “Do The Right Thing” and “Jungle Fever,” and in more recent years “American Gangster,” starring Mount Vernon native, Denzel Washington. She can also be seen in the upcoming crime drama “King Dog” opposite Ice-T, still-in-production, which was her final film.
Dee and her late husband Ossie Davis, who died February 4, 2005, not only collaborated together on-screen but were also active fighters in the Civil Rights movement, working alongside Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
A private service will be held for family and friends to remember the star. A public memorial will be held at a later date. Stay tuned to Black Westchester Magazine for an official tribute, coverage of the memorial, and further information or updates.