Ruby Dee dies at 91; here are five of her most iconic roles

Iconic actress and civil rights activist Ruby Dee died Wednesday at her home in New York at age 91; the news was confirmed by an archivist who works for Dee-Davis Enterprises.

Dee, an Oscar nominee that appeared movies and on Broadway, was also known for her work as an advocate for equal rights; she emceed the 1963 March on Washington. She received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2004.

Here’s Dee’s full obituary, but here’s a list of some of her most iconic roles through the years.

“A Raisin the Sun” (1961)

She starred opposite Sidney Poitier as his character’s steely wife, Ruth Younger; they were also in the Broadway production in 1995.


Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier. (AP)

“Do the Right Thing” (1989)

She starred with her husband, Ossie Davis, in the famous Spike Lee film as Mother Sister, one of the women in the neighborhood.


Da Mayor (Ossie Davis) presents a token of his affection to Mother Sister (Ruby Dee) in “Do the Right Thing.” (Copyright 1989 Universal City Studios)

“American Gangster” (2007)

She played the mother of a drug lord (portrayed by Denzel Washington), Mama Lucas, and earned an Oscar nomination.


Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) is confronted by his mother, Mama Lucas (Ruby Dee). (David Lee)

“The Jackie Robinson Story” (1950)

One of her first movie roles, she played opposite Robinson (starring as himself) in the film. (Dee and her husband were good friends with Jackie and Rachel Robinson.)


Ruby Dee starred in a movie based on Jackie Robinson’s life (AP)

“Decoration Day” (1990)

Dee, nominated for six Emmy Awards, took one home (best supporting actress in a miniseries or special) for her portrayal of James Garner’s character’s housekeeper in this Hallmark Hall of fame made-for-TV movie.

Emily Yahr is an entertainment reporter and pop culture blogger for the Style section. She joined the Post in May 2008, a week before she graduated from the University of Maryland, and worked on Lisa de Moraes' TV Column and blog.
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