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Ruby Dee Biography

Birth Name:
Ruby Ann Wallace
Birth Place:
Cleveland, Ohio, United States
Actor, author, activist

Fast Facts

  • As a teenager in Harlem, studied at the America Negro Theater; classmates included Sidney Poitier, with whom she later appeared in both the 1959 Broadway production and 1961 film version of A Raisin in the Sun
  • Made her Broadway debut in a 1943 non-musical version of South Pacific
  • Met husband Ossie Davis while performing in the Broadway drama Jeb in 1946
  • It was the first of some 50 performances together
  • Earned recognition in the 1950 biopic The Jackie Robinson Story, as Robinson's wife, Rachel; Jackie Robinson played himself
  • Was a regular on the CBS soap opera The Guiding Light in 1967
  • With Davis, wrote a memoir, In This Life Together; also published volumes of poetry as well as several film and stage scripts
  • With Davis, was inducted into the NAACP Image Award Hall of Fame (1989); was awarded the American National Medal of the Arts from the National Endowment of the Arts (1995); and was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors (2004)
  • Was honored at a celeb-filled bash in Harlem for her 90th birthday in October 2012 that included an excerpt from a documentary about her life with Ossie Davis produced by grandson Muta'Ali Muhammad


  • 2009Screen Actors Guild Awards-Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: nominated
  • 2007Screen Actors Guild Awards-Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: nominated
  • 2007Screen Actors Guild Awards-Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role: winner
  • 2007Oscar-Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: nominated
  • 2007Golden Satellite Award-Best Supporting Actress: nominated
  • 2007African American Film Critics-Best Supporting Actress: winner
  • 1991Emmy-Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Special: winner
  • 1988Emmy-Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Special: nominated
  • 1979Emmy-Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Special: nominated
  • 1961National Board of Review-Best Supporting Actress: winner