Nathan'ette Burdine's The Nyle Magazine

  News     Politics       Entertainment      Under the Radar      Double-Talking            

 Entertainment Archive 2014

Ruby Dee passed away at the age of 91
by Nathan'ette Burdine: June 15, 2014

Ruby Dee’s careers as an actress, playwright, poet, and civil rights activists spanned over 70 years.

During that time, she worked with her late husband, Ossie Davis, and Harry Belafonte. They were active in the Civil Rights Movement and vocal supporters of job and education equality.

During an acceptance speech for the Lifetime Achievement Award, Dee emphasized the importance that actors have to take their talents and abilities beyond the big screen to the world stage.

SAG-AFTRA quoted Dee as saying, “We are artists also, and workers above all. We are image-makers. Why can’t we image-makers become peacemakers too?”

Later in her career, Dee starred in films with Samuel L. Jackson, Halle Berry, and Denzel Washington. Dee and Davis starred with Jackson in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever, in which Jackson played the couple’s son Gator Purify.

In 2005, Dee played the grandmother (Nanny) of Halle Berry’s character (Janie Starks) in the Oprah Winfrey produced movie, based on Zora Neal Hurston’s book, Their Eyes Were Watching God.

And in 2007, Lee starred as Mama Lucas alongside Denzel Washington, who played the Harlem famed gangster Frank Lucas, in American Gangster.

Some of Dee’s other film credits include, The Real Jackie Robinson Story, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, and Steven King’s The Stand.

 Dee’s extensive body of work has garnered her several awards and nominations. Some of those awards include the Screen Actors Guild award, an Emmy, the 2004 Kennedy Center Honors, and a 2007 Grammy.

Dee and Davis shared the 2007 Grammy with former President Jimmy Carter for Best Spoken Word Album.

Dee was also nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mama Lucas in “American Gangster.”

On Wednesday, Ruby Dee passed away at the age of 91 in New Rochelle, New York. There were several people from actors, musicians, to politicians who spoke about Dee’s passing.

Among those who spoke about Dee were Director Spike Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, First Lady Michelle Obama, and President Obama.

In a response via Instagram, Lee describe Dee as his “Spiritual Mother” and said that it was a “Great Blessing In Life” to have work with Dee and Davis.

Jackson tweeted, “We Lost A Jewel Today,” and expressed sympathy for her family. Mrs. Obama tweeted out that she was “deeply saddened” about “Ruby Dee’s passing,” and that she’ll always remember that on her first date with “Barack” she saw Dee in “Do the Right Thing.”

 President Obama issued a statement in which he said that he was “saddened to hear” about Dee passing away.

He also spoke about his first date with Mrs. Obama and seeing Dee in “Do the Right Thing.” The president ended his statement by acknowledging the contributions Dee made to black actors and actresses, as well as she and Davis’ contributions to the civil rights movement.

According to the Associated Press, Dee was surrounded by her family when she passed away. Nora Davis Day told the Associated Press, “We have had her for so long and we loved her so much. We gave her our permission to set sail. She opened her eyes, closed her eyes and away she went.”

comments powered by Disqus