Screen legend and civil rights activist Ruby Dee passes away at 91

Award-winning star of stage and screen and noted civil rights activist Ruby Dee died at her home in New Rochelle, New York on Wednesday. She was 91.

She died of natural causes, according to her representative Michael Livingston, as reported by CNN and other news outlets. 

Born in Cleveland in October 27, 1922 and raised in Harlem, Dee appeared in several Broadway plays in the '40s before her big screen breakthrough in 1950's “The Jackie Robinson Story,” and she continued to appear in films, on TV and on stage in a career which lasted nearly 70 years. 

Often appearing alongside her husband Ossie Davis, Dee drew acclaim in films such as 1957's “Edge of the City” and 1961's “A Raisin in the Sun” (both opposite Sidney Poitier) and played a small but pivotal role in Spike Lee's quintessential 1989 film “Do the Right Thing.” She also co-starred in ABC's 1994 adaptation of Stephen King's “The Stand.”

She and Davis were also involved in the civil rights movement, working with Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and other leaders in the 1960s. The National Urban League honored Dee with the Frederick Douglass Award in 1970, and she was a member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the NAACP, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and other civil rights groups. 

Davis died in 2005.

Dee has won Grammy, Emmy, Obie, Drama Desk, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Awards, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for 2007's “American Gangster.”