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Fri, 10.27.1922

Ruby Dee, Actress, and Activist born

Ruby Dee, 1957

Ruby Dee was born on this date in 1922. She was a Black actress and activist.

Born Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, Ohio, her father, Marshall Edward Wallace, was a Pullman Porter and waiter on the Pennsylvania Railroad; her mother, Emma Wallace, was a schoolteacher.  She grew up in Harlem, New York, and was a 1945 graduate of Hunter College.

Dee was the first Black woman to appear in significant roles at the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, CT. She made several appearances on Broadway before getting national recognition for her role in the 1950 film, "The Jackie Robinson Story."

Her acting career has crossed all primary forms of media for eight decades, including films such as "A Raisin in the Sun" opposite Sidney Poitier (1961), "Uptight" (1968), "Buck and the Preacher" (1972), "Roots" (1978), "Do The Right Thing" (1989), and "The Delany Sisters: The First Hundred Years" (1999).  She married actor Ossie Davis, and they had one son, Guy Davis, born in 1952.

During the 1960s, Dee appeared in politically charged films such as "Gone Are the Days" and "The Incident," which paved the way for many young Black filmmakers and actors. She was nominated for seven Emmy Awards, once winning her role on 1990s Decoration Day.  Dee and her late husband, actor Ossie Davis, were well-known American Civil Rights activists.

She was a member of such organizations as CORE, the NAACP, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She and her husband were personal friends of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, with Ossie Davis giving Malcolm X's eulogy at his 1965 funeral.

Dee was a Delta Sigma Theta sorority member and a breast cancer survivor for over 30 years. Ruby Dee died on June 12, 2014.

To become an Actor or Actress


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