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     Mr. Ossie Davis and Mrs. Ruby Dee



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 Ruby Dee

October 27, 1924

Ruby Dee born October 27, 1924 is an American actress, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist, activist, and widow of actor Ossie Davis. She is 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. She has won Grammy, Emmy, Obie, Drama Desk, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Awards. She is a recipient of the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honors, among scores of others awards.

Dee was born Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, Ohio in 1924to Gladys Hightower and Marshall Edward Nathaniel Wallace.

Dee was raised in Harlem, New York and attended Hunter College High School and went on to graduate from Hunter College with degrees in French and Spanish in 1944. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta.


Ruby Wallace married blues singer Frankie Dee in the mid-1940s; the couple later divorced, but she kept his surname professionally. Three years later she married actor Ossie Davis. Ruby and Ossie wrote an autobiography in which they discussed their political activism and their open marriage. Together they had three children: son, Guy Davis a blues musician, and two daughters, Nora Day and Hasna Muhammad. Dee is a breast cancer survivor of more than three decades. Ruby and Ossie were well-known civil rights activists. Ruby is a member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the NAACP, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Delta Sigma Theta sorority and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Ruby and Ossie were both personal friends of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.

In November 2005 Ruby Dee was awarded – along with her late husband Ossie Davis – the Lifetime Achievement Freedom Award, presented by the National Civil Rights Museum located in Memphis, TN. Ruby, a long-time resident of New Rochelle, New York, was inducted into the New Rochelle Walk of Fame which honors the most notable residents from throughout the community’s 325 year history. She was also inducted into the Westchester County Women’s Hall of Fame on March 30, 2007, joining such other honorees as Hillary Rodham Clinton and Nita Lowey. In 2009 she received an Honorary Degree from Princeton University.

Movies: 57 acting roles in movies

Narrative: 5 spoken narratives

Television: 40 shows acting in television


1961: National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress – A Raisin in the Sun

1971: Drama Desk Award Outstanding Performance – Boesman and Lena

1971: Obie Award for Best Performance by an Actress – Boesman and Lena

1973: Drama Desk Award Outstanding Performance – Wedding Band

1991: Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie – Decoration Day

1991: Women in Film Crystal Award

1995: National Medal of Arts

2001: Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award

2007: Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album – With Ossie And Ruby: In This Life Together

2008: African–American Film Critics Best Supporting Actress – American Gangster

2008: Screen Actors Guild Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role – American Gangster

2008: The Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal Award

2008: She was awarded the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP

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Ossie Davis (born Raiford Chatman Davis)

December 18, 1917 – February 4, 2005.

He was an extraordinary leader in American film, television and Broadway. He was a passionate actor, director, poet, playwright, author, and social activist.

Ossie Raiford Chatman Davis was born in Cogdell, Clinch County, Georgia to Kince Charles Davis, a railway construction engineer, and his wife Laura .The name. During that era in time with full blown racism in America Ossie experienced that form of hate from an early age when at one point the KKK threatened to shoot his father, whose job they felt was too advanced for a black man to have.

Following the wishes of his parents, he attended Howard University but dropped out in 1939 to fulfill his acting career in New York; he later attended Columbia University School of General Studies. His acting career, which spanned eight decades, began in 1939 with the Rose McClendon Players in Harlem. During World War II, Davis served in the United States Army in the Medical Corps. He made his film debut in 1950 the Sidney Poitier film No Way Out. He voiced Anansi the spider on the PBS children’s television series Sesame Street in its animation segment.

Ossie and Ruby were well known as civil rights activists, and were close friends of Malcolm X, Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr. and other icons of that time era. He and Ruby deep involvement in the movement is characterized by how instrumental they were in organizing the 1963 civil rights March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, even to the point of serving as emcee. Davis, alongside Ahmed Osman, delivered the eulogy at the funeral of Malcolm X. He re-read part of this eulogy at the end of Spike Lee’s film Malcolm X. Which won many accolades? He also delivered a stirring tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, at a memorial in New York’s Central Park the day after he was assassinated.


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In 1989, Ossie Davis and his wife, actress/activist Ruby Dee, were named to the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame. In 1995, they were awarded the National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest honor conferred to an individual artist on behalf of the country and presented in a White House ceremony by the President of the United States. And in 2004, they were recipients of the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors. According to the Kennedy Center Honors. The presentation of the award was:

“The Honors recipients recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts— whether in dance, music, theater, opera, motion pictures, or television — is selected by the Center’s Board of Trustees. The primary criterion in the selection process is excellence. The Honors are not designated by art form or category of artistic achievement; the selection process, over the years, has produced balance among the various arts and artistic disciplines.”

Ossie Davis is also a member of the American Theater Hall of Fam. He was inducted in 1994

Ossie Davis passed away on Friday February 4, 2005 at the age of 87. He was found unresponsive in his hotel room in Miami Beach Florida while filming the “Retirement” this was confirmed by Arminda Thomas, who works for him.

Bobby Hernandez the spokesperson for the Miami Beach police stated that shortly before 7 am Ossie grandson called and stated his grandfather would not open the door to his room at the Shore Club Hotel.

The Cause of Ossie Davis Death was of natural causes. .


Ossie Davis directed several films, most notably “Cotton Comes to Harlem” (1970). Other films include “The Cardinal” (1963), “The Client” (1994) and “I’m Not Rappaport” (1996), a reprise of his stage role 10 years earlier.

On TV, he appeared in “The Emperor Jones” (1955), “Miss Evers’ Boys” (1997) and “Twelve Angry Men” (1997). He was a cast member on “The Defenders” from 1963-65, and “Evening Shade” from 1990-94 and many more with accolades following.



Director of films 1970 -1973

I’m not Rappaport

Cotton Comes to Harlem

Black Girl

Gordon’s War

Kongi’s Harvest

The Cardinal

The Client

Additional Literature:

Davis, Ossie: Langston. New York: Delacorte Press.

Davis, Ossie: Just Like Martin. New York: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

Davis, Ossie and Dee, Ruby: With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together. New York: William Morrow.

Davis, Ossie and Dee, Ruby: Life Lit by Some Large Vision: Selected Speeches and Writings. New York: Atria Books.

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They fed off each other light and love. They both are pure energies working for a better society and for the generation past, present and to come.

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Together fighting for the cause for equality and teaching their children to stand for what they believe we are equal. Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee and children


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