Ruby Dee

Actor, Screenwriter, Playwright
Academy Award-nominated actress Ruby Dee was, by all accounts, an American icon. Her career spanned no fewer than three major movements in African-American culture - from the post-Harlem Renaissance era to the black ... Read more »
Born: 10/27/1922 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Filmography

Actor (125)

The Way Back Home 2015 (Movie)

Maude (Actor)

Red and Blue Marbles 2014 (Movie)

Professor Wright (Actor)

Betty and Coretta 2012 - 2013 (TV Show)

Narrator

Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary 2013 (Movie)

Herself (Actor)

1982 2012 (Movie)

(Actor)

A Thousand Words 2012 (Movie)

Annie McCall (Actor)

Politics of Love 2011 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Perfect Age of Rock 'n' Roll 2011 (Movie)

Miss Candy (Actor)

Dream Street 2010 (Movie)

Ms. Nay Nay (Actor)

America 2008 - 2009 (TV Show)

Actor

Dateline NBC 2009 (Tv Show)

Actor

Guiding Light 1951 - 2009 (TV Show)

Actor

Steam 2009 (Movie)

Doris (Actor)

The 14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Actor

The 39th Annual NAACP Image Awards 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)

Actor

American Gangster 2007 (Movie)

Mama Lucas (Actor)

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation 2007 (Tv Show)

Actor

Iconoclasts 2007 (Tv Show)

Actor

Naming Number Two 2007 (Movie)

Nanna Maria (Actor)

2005 Black Movie Awards 2005 - 2006 (TV Show)

Actor

All About Us 2006 (Movie)

(Actor)

Oprah Winfrey's Legends' Ball 2005 - 2006 (TV Show)

Actor

The 37th Annual NAACP Image Awards 2005 - 2006 (TV Show)

Actor

Beah: A Black Woman Speaks 2004 (Movie)

Herself (Actor)

Cosby 1998 - 1999, 2003 - 2004 (Tv Show)

Actor

Evening Shade 1992 - 1993, 1998 - 1999, 2003 - 2004 (Tv Show)

Actor

Little Bill 1999 - 2004 (TV Show)

Voice

Promised Land 1998 - 1999, 2003 - 2004 (Tv Show)

Actor

Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry 2003 - 2004 (Tv Show)

Actor

Touched By an Angel 1992 - 1993, 1998 - 2000, 2003 - 2004 (Tv Show)

Actor

Reading Rainbow 1982 - 2003 (TV Show)

Narrator

7th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

Amsterdam News: Stories of Black New York 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

Civil Rights Heroes 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

Freedom Never Dies: The Legacy of Harry T. Moore 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Narrator

A Storm in Summer 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

America's Millennium 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

Actor

Baby Geniuses 1999 (Movie)

Margo (Actor)

NYTV: By the People Who Made It 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

God's Gonna Trouble the Water 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Narrator

Porgy and Bess: An American Voice 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Narrator

Time to Dance: The Life and Work of Norma Canner 1998 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

A Simple Wish 1997 (Movie)

Hortense (Actor)

Sidney Poitier: The Defiant One 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Narrator

Just Cause 1995 (Movie)

Evangeline Ferguson (Actor)

Stephen King's The Stand 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

The 48th Annual Tony Awards 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Presenter

Tuesday Morning Ride 1994 (Movie)

Jennie (Actor)

Whitewash 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Voice

Cop and A Half 1993 (Movie)

Rachel (Actor)

Diamonds on the Silver Screen 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Long Ago and Far Away 1988 - 1993 (TV Show)

Narrator

Color Adjustment 1992 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

Guiding Light: The Primetime Special 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Middle Ages 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

The 24th Annual NAACP Image Awards 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Performer

Jungle Fever 1991 (Movie)

Lucinda Purify (Actor)

Love at Large 1990 (Movie)

Corinne Dart (Actor)

Nigerian Art: Kindred Spirits 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Narrator

The 22nd Annual NAACP Image Awards 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Performer

Do the Right Thing 1989 (Movie)

Mother Sister (Actor)

Making "Do the Right Thing" 1989 (Movie)

Herself (Actor)

Sidney Sheldon's "Windmills of the Gods" 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

A Letter to Booker T. 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

Alice in Wonder 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

Crazy Hattie Enters the Ice Age 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

Crown Dick 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

Martin Luther King: The Dream and the Drum 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Treemonisha 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Narrator

Windows on Women 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

The Atlanta Child Murders 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

Go Tell It on the Mountain 1983 (Movie)

Mrs Grimes (Actor)

Wild Style 1983 (Movie)

Fantastic Freak (Actor)

Cat People 1982 (Movie)

Female (Actor)

Countdown at Kusini 1976 (Movie)

Leah Matanzima (Actor)

D.H.O. 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

Black Girl 1972 (Movie)

Netta's Mother (Actor)

Buck and the Preacher 1971 (Movie)

Ruth (Actor)

King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis 1970 (Movie)

Herself (Actor)

Deadlock 1968 - 1969 (TV Show)

Actor

Peyton Place 1964 - 1969 (TV Show)

Actor

Uptight 1968 (Movie)

Laurie (Actor)

The Incident 1967 (Movie)

Joan Robinson (Actor)

Gone Are the Days 1963 (Movie)

Lutiebelle (Actor)

The Balcony 1962 (Movie)

Thief (Actor)

A Raisin in the Sun 1961 (Movie)

Ruth (Actor)

Virgin Island 1959 (Movie)

Ruth (Actor)

St. Louis Blues 1958 (Movie)

Elizabeth (Actor)

Take a Giant Step 1958 (Movie)

Christine--the Maid (Actor)

Edge of the City 1956 (Movie)

Lucy Tyler (Actor)

Go, Man, Go! 1954 (Movie)

Irma Jackson (Actor)

After Goodbye: An AIDS Story (TV Show)

Narrator

All God's Children (TV Show)

Actor

Decoration Day (TV Show)

Actor

Finding Buck McHenry (TV Show)

Actor

Gore Vidal's Lincoln (TV Show)

Actor

It's Good to Be Alive (TV Show)

Actor

Mississippi, America (TV Show)

Narrator

Mr. and Mrs. Loving (TV Show)

Actor

Passing Glory (TV Show)

Actor

Roots: The Next Generations (TV Show)

Actor

Taking Back Our Town (TV Show)

Actor

The DuPont Show of the Week (TV Show)

Actor

The Ernest Green Story (TV Show)

Actor

The Feast of All Saints (TV Show)

Actor

The Jackie Robinson Story (Movie)

Rae Robinson (Actor)

The Sheriff (TV Show)

Actor

The Wall (TV Show)

Actor

Zora Is My Name! (TV Show)

Actor
Director (2)

My Man Bovanne 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Director

The 85-Year-Old Swinger 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Director
Producer (2)

Mama 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Producer

Refrigerator 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Producer
Writer (1)

Uptight 1968 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Biography

Academy Award-nominated actress Ruby Dee was, by all accounts, an American icon. Her career spanned no fewer than three major movements in African-American culture - from the post-Harlem Renaissance era to the black pride voice of the 1970s to the commoditization of urban black culture in the 1990s. Throughout it all, the intellectual, smoky-voiced actress appeared on stage and screen in dramas that explored the black experience and celebrated its finest wordsmiths. Off-screen, Dee and husband/frequent collaborator, Ossie Davis, were devoted civil rights activists, whose career choices did as much to further the cause as their presence at pivotal moments in African-American history. During the 60-plus years of her career, Dee witnessed the fruits of her labor, as the civil rights movement ushered in a new era of respect and dignity for African-American actors who were afforded broad outlets to showcase the breadth of their talent. A dramatic orator and enthusiast of the African-American storytelling genre, Dee was also a published poet and author, as well as screenwriter. In every field that the impassioned and multi-talented Dee fearlessly pursued, she ensured that her children and grandchildren would enjoy greater opportunities than the world into which she was born. Her death on June 11, 2014 was mourned by fans and civil rights leaders worldwide.

Relationships

Ossie Davis

Husband
Married December 9, 1948 until his death on February 4, 2005

Guy Davis

Son
Born c. 1952 father, Ossie Davis

Nora Davis Day Associate Producer

Daughter
Born c. 1950 father, Ossie Davis

Frank Dee

Husband
briefly married divorced in 1945

Gladys Hightower

Mother
Abandoned family to run off with a preacher

Hasna Muhammad

Daughter
Born c. 1957 father Ossie Davis

Edward Wallace

Father

Emma Wallace

Step-Mother

EDUCATION

Hunter College

New York , New York 1945
Member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority

Actor's Workshop

New York , New York
Studied with Paul Mann and Lloyd Richards

Studied acting with Morris Carnovsky (1958-60)

Milestones

2009

Co-starred with Rosie O’Donnell in the Lifetime movie, "America"; earned a SAG nomination for Best Actress in a TV Movie

2007

Played Frank Lucas' (Denzel Washington) mother in "American Gangster"; earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress

2006

With husband Ossie Davis, created the spoken word album, "With Ossie And Ruby: In This Life Together" (released after Ossie's death)

2001

Returned to the NY stage in "St. Lucy's Eyes"

2000

Cast in the Showtime movies, "A Storm in Summer" and "Finding Buck McHenry"; co-starred with husband Ossie Davis

1999

Portrayed Bessie Delany in the TV presentation "Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years"

1999

Wrote and starred in the stage production "My One Good Nerve: A Visit With Ruby Dee"

1999

Provided the voice of Alice the Great in the Nickelodeon animated series "Little Bill" starring Bill Cosby

1995

Co-starred in the Academy Award nominated short "Tuesday Morning Ride"

1994

Portrayed Mother Abagail in the TV adaptation of "Stephen King's The Stand" (ABC)

1991

With husband, played the parents of Wesley Snipes in Lee's "Jungle Fever"

1990

Portrayed famed Harlem Renaissance author Zora Neale Hurston in "Zora Is My Name!" (PBS); also wrote teleplay

1989

Portrayed Amanda Winfield in a staging of "The Glass Menagerie" in Washington, DC

1989

Played supporting role of a mystical neighborhood resident in Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing"

1988

Returned to Broadway alongside Denzel Washington and Paul Winfield in "Checkmates"

1985

Appeared in "The Atlanta Child Murders" (CBS)

1983

With Davis, headlined an all-black TV production of "Long Day's Journey Into Night"

1980

Co-starred with Ossie Davis in "All God's Children"

1980

Co-hosted and starred in the series "Ossie & Ruby" (with husband Ossie Davis); also produced and directed episodes

1979

Wrote play, "Twin-Bit Gardens"; laster revised and presented as "Take It from the Top"; also made stage directing debut

1979

Portrayed Alex Haley's grandmother Queen in "Roots: The Next Generation" (ABC)

1974

Once again played a baseball player's wife in the TV biopic "It's Good to Be Alive" (CBS)

1972

Reprised role of black woman in an interracial marriage in the Off-Broadway production "Wedding Band" (filmed for TV)

1972

Portrayed Leslie Uggams' mother in the feature "Black Girl"; directed by husband Ossie Davis

1968

Screenwriting debut as co-author of "Uptight"; also co-starred

1968

Had regular role on the ABC primetime serial "Peyton Place"

1967

Acted in the big screen drama "The Incident"

1966

Cast in the lead role of a black woman who marries a white man in "The Wedding Band"

1964

Earned first Emmy nomination for guest appearance on the ABC series "The Nurses"

1963

Co-starred in the film version of Genet's "The Balcony"

1961

Co-starred in the stage production "Purlie Victorious"

1961

Reprised stage role in feature version of "A Raisin in the Sun"

1960

Featured in "Seven Times Monday" on "Play of the Week"

1959

Portrayed Ruth Younger in the Broadway presentation of Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun"

1957

Appeared in "Edge of the City"

1952

Had regular role on TV daytime soap, "The Guiding Light" (CBS)

1950

Feature acting debut opposite Sidney Poitier in "No Way Out"

1950

Portrayed the ballplayer's wife in "The Jackie Robinson Story"

1946

Had a featured role in "Jeb"; first Broadway appearance with Ossie Davis

1946

First starring role on Broadway as title character in "Anna Lucasta"

1942

First Broadway role as a native in "South Pacific"

1940

Worked as apprentice at American Negro Theater (classmates included Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte)

Grew up in Harlem

Garnered much acclaim for playing the female lead in the stage play "Boesman and Lena"

Worked as columnist for NYC's Amsterdam News and as associate editor of Freedomways magazine

Co-produced and starred on radio program, "The Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee Story Hour"

Bonus Trivia

.

Received a honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Fairfield University and an honorary doctorate from Iona College and Virginia State University

.

She received (with husband) Frederick Douglass Award from NYC's Urban League for "bringing a sense of fervor and pride to countless millions" in 1970

.

Given the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award from Operation Push (1972)

.

Named to the Theater Hall of Fame in 1988

.

Received National Medal of Arts in 1995

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