Friday, June 13, 2014

Ruby Dee 1922-2014

Actress Ruby Dee has passed away at the age of 91.
Born Ruby Ann Wallace in 1922, Ruby Dee got her start on the stage in the 1940’s. It was the beginning of a full career which would span the next seven decades. Her long list of impressive screen credits include THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY (1950), NO WAY OUT (1950), A RAISIN IN THE SUN (1961), DO THE RIGHT THING (1989), JUNGLE FEVER (1991), and AMERICAN GANGSTER (2007)…for which she was nominated for an Oscar.

She was the recipient of the Grammy, Emmy, Screen Actors Guild, and Screen Actors Guild Lifetime awards, as well as the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honors. She crossed over into stage and TV effortlessly, and was also an accomplished poet, playwright, journalist, and activist. Her work in the civil rights movement in the 1960’s made her a formidable force. She was the Mistress of Ceremonies on the famed March on Washington in 1963, and was close with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

This Blogger’s lasting memory of Ruby Dee will always be her role in Ridley Scott’s AMERICAN GANGSTER in 2007; a role which would make her the second-oldest nominee for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress at the age of 85. In that film, she was the strong and loving mother of a ruthless gangster, played by Denzel Washington. Denzel is a powerful performer, and it is not often that he gets upstaged or at the very least made to meet his match. But Ruby Dee was more than up to the challenge; so convincing that you have to wonder if she didn’t have Denzel scared of her off-set…in a good way. She played the mother of a gangster into Oscar history, but that was just a minor footnote in the long and incredibly prosperous life she led.




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