“Ruby Dee” born Ruby Ann Wallace-native of Cleveland, Ohio October 27, 1922-despite being a breast cancer survivor for over three decades, died of natural causes on June 11, 2014 at her home in New Rochelle, New York.
Ruby Dee was raised in Harlem, New York and attended Hunter College where she pledged Delta Sigma Theta, and graduated with a degree in romance languages 1945.
The legendary actress, activist, and wife whose career spans extended from stage, stage and television was the widow to actor Ossie Davis-to whom he was married and had an open relationship with.
Ossie Davis died in 2005.
In 1998, they wrote a book, “With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together,” about open relationships, their open relationships and what the lifestyle had taught the two of them:
Ossie: “It occurred to us, from observation and reasoning, that extramarital sex was not what really destroyed marriages, but rather the lies and deception that invariably accompanied it — that was the culprit. So we decided to give ourselves permission to sleep with other partners if we wished — as long as what we did was honest as well as private, and that neither of us exposed the family to scandal or disease. We had to be discreet and, if the word can be apt, honorable in our behavior, both to ourselves, to whomever else might be involved, and most of all, to the family. And for the most part, we were.”
Source: Joint biography, page 317
Ossie: “But looking back, I’d say no matter what did or did not happen, we freed each other. And in doing that, we also freed ourselves…Sex is fine, but love is better. That’s the most important part of being free. In light of what we learned, is extramarital sex something we recommend as a regular part of marriage? Not now…not anymore. Not since AIDS has entered the equation, and genital herpes, syphilis, and other veneral diseases…”
Source: Joint biography, page 323-324
Ruby: “But, we both came to realize that we were very fortunate that, in all of the deep profound, fundamental ways, we really, really only wanted each other. It was like a rediscovery of something from the beginning. It’s not something that you’d recommend to everybody. But often Ossie has said – and I’ve though too – the best way to have somebody is to let it go. If it doesn’t come back you are free in another kind of sense – in that you find the strength to let go and wish somebody well. So, we thought an open marriage was appropriate for us but it turned out not to be. But then that’s what we’re all about, we are moving from one position to another in the process of trying to unravel this thing call life.”
Source: Broadway to Vegas
The couple met in 1946 while working in the Broadway play: Jeb. They married in 1948 and are survived by three children: son (blues singer Guy Davis), and two daughters: Nora Day and Hasna Muhammad.
Best known for starring in several movies together like Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing,” and “Jungle Fever,” the couple starred together (and as individual/actors/separately), in several Broadway plays and award-winning movies and theatre productions.
In 2007, Ruby Dee won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mama Lucas in American Gangster. Additionally, she won the Screen Actors Guild Award for the role.
About Dee, Gil Robertson IV, of the African American Film Critics Association, said in a statement:
“The members of the African American Film Critics Association are deeply saddened at the loss of actress and humanitarian Ruby Dee. Throughout her seven-decade career, Ms Dee embraced different creative platforms with her various interpretations of black womanhood and also used her gifts to champion for Human Rights. Her strength, courage and beauty will be greatly missed.”
According to reports, Ruby Dee will be cremated with her ashes held in the same urn as her husband Ossie Davis-with the the most literal and true meaning to “til death do us part”: the urn’s inscription reading “In this thing together”…similar to the title of their book: “In This Life Together.”
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