Ruby Dee once said, “The kind of beauty I want most is the hard-to-get kind that comes from within — strength, courage, dignity.” The groundbreaking actress, who died Wednesday in New Rochelle, N.Y. at the age of 91, achieved that goal time and again throughout her career, which spanned over 60 years. Dee’s daughter, Nora Davis Day, confirmed Dee’s death to the Associated Press Thursday afternoon.
A pioneer of the civil rights movement, Dee (who was born in Cleveland, but grew up in Harlem) studied at the American Negro Theater in New York City, where she met her husband of 56 years, the actor Ossie Davis (who died in 2005). After working steadily on Broadway throughout the 1940s, she rose to acclaim on the silver screen with 1950’s The Jackie Robinson Story, in which she played the baseball legend’s mother. In 1965, she became the first black woman to land lead roles at the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut. READ FULL STORY