Ruby Dee death: US actress and civil rights activist dies aged 91

The award-winning actress passed away peacefully at home in New York

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The Independent Online

American actress and civil rights activist Ruby Dee has died aged 91.

The Emmy Award winner was pronounced dead from natural causes at her home in New Rochelle, New York on Wednesday night.

Her daughter, Nora Davis Day, told the press that Dee had passed away peacefully with friends and family present for her death.

“We have had her for so long and we loved her so much,” she said. “We gave her our permission to set sail. She opened her eyes, closed her eyes and away she went.”

Dee became famous for her collaborations with actor Ossie Davis, to whom she was married for 56 years until his death in 2005. The couple met when Dee auditioned for Broadway play Jeb in 1945 and they wed three years later.


Dee starred in five stage productions with Davis and they had their own radio show The Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee Story Hour.

Her best-known film roles were in The Jackie Robinson Story, A Raisin in the Sun and Do the Right Thing, and she was nominated for an Oscar after playing Frank Lucas’ mother in American Gangster.

Both Dee and Davis also played an active role in fighting for civil rights, using their status in the entertainment industry to help promote black performers.

They were masters of ceremonies for the 1963 march on Washington and Davis spoke at Martin Luther King and Malcolm X’s funerals.