Ruby Dee (1922-2014)

13 Jun
Portrait by Carl Van Vechten

Ruby Dee – Photo by Carl Van Vechten

Ruby Dee, the actress and activist who appeared in films and plays for over seven decades has died at the age of 91. She played Rachel Robinson in The Jackie Robinson Story in 1950, and reprised her groundbreaking stage role as Ruth Younger in the 1961 film version of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin In The Sun.

Ruby Dee and her husband Ossie Davis were a vibrant part of the arts during the 20th century and were very involved in the civil rights movement. Both were interviewed for the Blackside series that focused on African Americans in the arts, I’ll Make Me a World. They both were close to Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Davis gave the eulogy at Malcolm’s funeral and he spoke about that in a separate interview for Eyes on the Prize II.

Rather than wait for Hollywood producers to develop roles for African Americans they produced their own plays and films including Purliefirst a play then a film, Uptight, a film Dee co-wrote and starred in, and then they both starred in a television series With Ossie and Ruby. Dee was also supportive to younger, talented filmmakers and appeared in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing and Jungle Fever. In all she had a

In addition to these interviews, the Film & Media archive also contains correspondence between Henry Hampton and Ruby Dee.




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