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Ruby Dee Dies: Legendary Screen and Stage Actress, Civil Rights Activist Dead at 91

Ruby Dee on September 26, 2010
Legendary screen and stage star Ruby Dee has passed away at 91. Here, she smiles at a September 2010 event. Dario Cantatore/

Ruby Dee has passed away at age 91. The legendary screen and stage actress, died Wednesday, June 11, in New Rochelle, N.Y. According to TMZ, the star was surrounded by family at the time of her passing. A rep confirmed her death to the site Thursday, June 12.

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Dee's nearly 80-year career highlights include winning an Emmy (for TV movie Decoration Day), a Grammy (for Best Spoken Word Album), and a SAG Award (for American Gangster). She starred on numerous Broadway productions including A Long Way from Home, Checkmates, and more.

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Her first film credit was the 1946 movie That Man of Mine. She went on to star in the Jackie Robinson Story (1950), and dozens of other films. She frequently costarred in movies with her second husband, Ossie Davis—including Do the Right Thing (1989) and Jungle Fever (1991)—to whom she was married from 1948 up until his death in February 2005. The two received the lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild in 2001.

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As a screen star, Dee is beloved for her role in the 1961 movie, A Raisin in the Sun, in which she played the character of Ruth Younger. She also notably starred in the 2007 film, American Gangster, as Denzel Washington's mother, Mama Lucas, for which she received an Oscar nomination.

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The Cleveland-born star was a central figure and leader in the arts world during the civil rights movement. Dee and husband Davis were close friends with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. In 1970, the power couple received the Frederick Douglass Award for their work.

She is survived by her three children, Guy, Hasna, and Nora.

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