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Oscar Nominee Ruby Dee Dead at 91

Thu, 12 Jun 2014 17:00:25 +0000

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images(NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y.) -- Grammy and Emmy-winning actress, writer and activist Ruby Dee has died.  She was 91.  Her family said in a statement that she passed away just before midnight on Wednesday of natural causes, at her home in New Rochelle, NY.  A private service will be held for family and friends, with a public memorial planned for a later date.

The widow of fellow actor Ossie Davis, who died in 2005, Dee appeared in films like The Jackie Robinson Story, A Raisin in the Sun, Do the Right Thing, and Jungle Fever. She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 2007 movie American Gangster.  At the time, she was 83, making her the second-oldest nominee ever in that category, behind Titanic star Gloria Stuart.  Dee won a SAG award for the same role.

In addition, Dee appeared in episodes of numerous TV series over the years, from Police Woman, to The Golden Girls to China Beach.  She was also a cast member of the soap operas Peyton Place and The Guiding Light.  She won an Emmy for her role in the 1990 TV movie, Decoration Day.

Dee's accolades also included an Obie and a Drama Desk Award, for her theatre work, while her Grammy came for her spoken word album with Davis, With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together.  She and Davis also were awarded the National Medal of Arts, and were the recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004.

A well-known civil right activist, Dee was a member of the Congress of Racial Equality, the NAACP and other organizations. She and Davis both were personal friends of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.  In 2005, she and Davis received the Lifetime Achievement Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN.

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