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Actress Ruby Dee dies

Ruby Dee
Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Beloved actress and activist Ruby Dee died Wednesday at age 91.

The AP reported that the actress, born Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, OH, passed away at her home in New Rochelle, NY with family members by her side.

"She died of natural causes," said family friend Arminda Thomas, according to Reuters. "She was blessed with old age."
Theaters on Broadway are set to dim their lights Friday night in her honor.

Dee, who was raised in Harlem, N.Y., began acting on the stage in the 1940s and later began appearing on Broadway and the big screen.

During her long, illustrious acting career, Dee was honored with an Emmy (in 1991 for the film Decoration Day) and two Screen Actors Guild Awards, among other accolades. She earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress for her role in Ridley Scott’s American Gangster (2007).

Dee was married to Frankie Dee Brown from 1941-1945. The year her marriage ended, Dee met actor Ossie Davis while auditioning for the play Jeb. They married three years later and remained married until Davis’s death in 2005.

Dee and Davis would act together in 11 plays and five movies. The most famous of these was Spike Lee’s film Do the Right Thing (1989).

The couple would become known for their civil rights activism as well as for their acting.

"We are image makers. Why can't we image makers become peacemakers, too?" she asked after she and Davis accepted the Screen Actors Guild Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2000.

Among their activist work was speaking at the funerals of both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.

Their autobiography, With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together, was released in 1998.

Dee is survived by her three children with Davis and by seven grandchildren.

"Through her remarkable performances, Ruby paved the way for generations of black actors and actresses, and inspired African-American women across our country," President Obama stated.

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