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Ruby Ann Dee (Wallace)

Birthplace: Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio, United States
Death: June 11, 2014 (91)
New Rochelle, Westchester County, New York, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Marshall Edward Nathaniel Wallace and Gladys Wallace
Wife of Frankie Dee Brown and Ossie Davis
Mother of Private; Private and Private

Occupation: Actress, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist, and activist
Managed by: Kenneth Kwame Welsh, (C)
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Ruby Ann Dee

Ruby Dee (née Wallace; October 27, 1922 – June 11, 2014) an American actress, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist, and activist, perhaps best known for co-starring in the film A Raisin in the Sun (1961) and the film American Gangster (2007) for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Early years

Dee was born Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of Gladys Hightower and Marshall Edward Nathaniel Wallace, a cook, waiter, and porter. After her mother left the family, Dee's father married Emma Amelia Benson, a schoolteacher. Dee grew up in Harlem, New York. She attended Hunter College High School and went on to graduate from Hunter College with degrees in French and Spanish in 1945. Dee is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.


Dee made several appearances on Broadway before receiving national recognition for her role in the 1950 film The Jackie Robinson Story. Her career in acting has crossed all major forms of media over a span of eight decades, including the films A Raisin in the Sun, in which she recreated her stage role as a suffering housewife in the projects, and Edge of the City. She played both roles opposite Sidney Poitier. During the 1960s, Dee appeared in such politically charged films as Gone Are the Days and The Incident, which is recognized as helping pave the way for young African-American actors and filmmakers.

She appeared in one episode of The Golden Girls' sixth season. Dee has been nominated for eight Emmy Awards, winning once for her role in the 1990 TV film Decoration Day. She was nominated for her television guest appearance in the China Beach episode, "Skylark". Her husband Ossie Davis (1917–2005) also appeared in that episode. In 1995, she and her husband were awarded the National Medal of Arts. They were also recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004.

In 2003, Ruby Dee also narrated a series of WPA slave narratives in the HBO film Unchained Memories, according to IMDB.

In 2007 the winner of the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album was tied between Dee and Ossie Davis for With Ossie And Ruby: In This Life Together, and former President Jimmy Carter.


  1. Ruby Dee, actress and civil rights activist, dies at 91. The New York Times, June 12, 2014
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Ruby Ann Dee's Timeline

October 27, 1922
Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio, United States
June 11, 2014
Age 91
New Rochelle, Westchester County, New York, United States