Legendary Actress Ruby Dee Dies At 91

News & Views | Camille Travis | 06/12/2014 | 12:30 PM EDT

The star's family says Dee died Wednesday at home in New Rochelle, New York

Legendary actress and activist Ruby Dee, who paved the way for countless African-American women in Hollywood, has died. She was 91.

The star passed away on Wednesday at home in New Rochelle, New York of "natural causes," as confirmed by her daughter Nora Davis Day. Dee was said to be surrounded by family and friends.

"We have had her for so long and we loved her so much," Day said. "She took her final bow last night at home surrounded by her children and grandchildren. We gave her our permission to set sail. She opened her eyes, closed her eyes and away she went."

Born in Cleveland and raised in Harlem, Dee got her start in the 1940s while on Broadway, eventually receiving critical acclaim for her role in the 1950 film The Jackie Robinson Story. She went on to star in classic works such as St. Louis Blues, A Raisin In The Sun, Do The Right Thing, Jungle Fever, American Gangster, the television miniseries Roots and more.


As the winner of an Emmy, Grammy and Screen Actors Guild award, among others, Dee is also remembered for her activism during the Civil Rights era. She worked alongside her personal friends Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X as she supported groups such as the NAACP, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

In 2005, Dee received the National Civil Rights Museum’s Lifetime Achievement Freedom award along with her husband, the late Ossie Davis.

The actress celebrated her 90th birthday in October 2012 as she was surrounded by famous faces such as Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Melvin Van Peebles and others.

Dee is survived by her three children Day, Hasna Muhammad and blues musician Guy Davis, as well as seven grandchildren.

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