US & Canada

US screen legend and activist Ruby Dee dies

Ruby Dee appeared in New York on 2 May 2011
Ruby Dee appeared in numerous films including a Raisin in the Sun and Do the Right Thing

Acclaimed American actress and civil rights activist Ruby Dee has died at the age of 91, US media report.

Ms Dee succumbed to natural causes at her home in New Rochelle, New York, on Wednesday evening.

The Emmy-winning actress was married to screen legend Ossie Davis for 56 years.

The pair frequently collaborated, sharing the stage in five productions, appearing together in five movies and starring in a radio show, The Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee Story Hour.

"We have had her for so long and we loved her so much," Ms Dee's daughter, Nora Davis Day, told US media following her death.

Ms Dee was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and later raised in Harlem, New York, where she later pursued acting.

She met Mr Davis in 1945 when she auditioned for Broadway play Jeb, and the couple married in 1948.

Dee with Nat King Cole in 1957
Dee starred in St Louis Blues with Nat King Cole in 1957

Together the pair were active in civil rights issues, including promoting black performers in the entertainment industry.

In 1963, they served as masters of ceremonies for the historic march on Washington, and Ms Davis spoke at funerals for both Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X.

Among Ms Dee's most famous screen roles were A Raisin in the Sun and Do the Right Thing.

Mr Davis died in 2005, and the couple is survived by their three children, Nora, Hasna and Guy.