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Ruby Dee, actress and civil rights champion, dies at 91

The world has lost a legendary and monumental actress on Thursday as Ruby Dee died peacefully at her home in New Rochelle, New York at the age of 91. A friend of the family confirmed the news, stating that acclaimed stage, film and television actress died of natural causes surrounded by family.

Actress Ruby Dee attends the premiere of 'Betty & Coretta' to celebrate with Lifetime and cast at Tribeca Cinemas on January 28, 2013 in New York City.
Actress Ruby Dee attends the premiere of 'Betty & Coretta' to celebrate with Lifetime and cast at Tribeca Cinemas on January 28, 2013 in New York City.
(Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Lifetime)

The Emmy-winning actress began her career in the 1940s and continued acting into she was in her 90s. During her time on stage and in film, Dee broke down racial stereotypes by taking on roles not often given to black actresses. Her commitment and passion for her art has gained her many accolades throughout her career and has marked her as an inspiration to so many actresses and performers of today.

Dee was also an activist who, along with her late husband, the legendary Ossie Davis, was very active in the civil rights movement, which earned her the Frederick Douglass Award in 1970 from the National Urban League. Her dedication to her community will always be etched in the path she paved by breaking through racial barriers and capturing audiences with her impactful style of acting.

Born Ruby Ann Wallace, Ruby Dee soared into the national spotlight for her role as Rae Robinson in the 1950 film “The Jackie Robinson Story.” She went on to star in such films like “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Edge of the City,” and the 2007 film “American Gangster.” It was a role that earned her an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress.

In total, Dee was nominated for eight Emmys, won one in 1990, and has won a Grammy for best spoken-word album. Her versatility as a performer, greatness as a mentor and passionate heart is what friends and family will remember most about Ruby Dee. Those who have admired from afar will be able to hold onto her talent, an art that will never fade.