SAG-AFTRA Releases Statement on Loss of RUBY DEE

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SAG-AFTRA Releases Statement on Loss of RUBY DEE

Legendary actresses of stage and screen, Ruby Dee died Wednesday night, June 11th at the age of 91, TMZ reports. According to sources, the actress was at her home in New Rochelle, NY, surrounded by family members when she passed away. A rep has confirmed the report.

SAG-AFTRA today released the following statement on the death of the actor, activist and SAG Life Achievement recipient:

SAG-AFTRA mourns the loss of SAG Life Achievement Award recipient Ruby Dee, who died yesterday at the age of 91. The multitalented Dee distinguished herself as an actor, writer and activist and received the Life Achievement Award in 2000 with husband Ossie Davis. They were only the second husband-and-wife team to win the award, the other being Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in 1985. Dee was predeceased by Davis in 2005.

As she accepted the award, Dee spoke of the Power of the acting profession.

"We are artists also, and workers above all. We are image-makers," She said. "Why can't we image-makers become peacemakers too? Why cannot we, in such a time as this, use all the magic of our vaunted powers to lift the pistol from the schoolboy's backpack and replace it with bright images of peace, with images of hope and faith in humankind? Of life lit by some large vision of goodness and beauty and truth?"

"Ruby Dee was truly one of a kind. She was a woman who believed deeply in fairness, a conviction that motivated her lifelong efforts to advance civil rights," said SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard. "The acting community - and the world - is a poorer place for her loss."

Dee is perhaps best known for her starring role in the 1960s film "A Raisin in the Sun", as well as her appearances in the SPIKE Lee films "Do the Right Thing" and "Jungle Fever." She was most recently seen on the big screen in "American Gangster", in which she took on the role of the mother of Denzel Washington's character.

Dee made several appearances on Broadway, earning two Drama Desk Awards for her performance in 1971's Boesman and Lena and 1973's Wedding Band. Among her theater credits are the original production of A Raisin in the Sun, Checkmates, Purlie Victorious, The Smile of the World, A Long Way from Home, Anna Lucasta and South Pacific.

Her career in acting has crossed all major forms of media over a span of eight decades, including the films A Raisin in the Sun, in which she recreated her stage role as a suffering housewife in the projects, and Edge of the City. She played both roles opposite Sidney Poitier. During the 1960s, Dee appeared in such politically charged films as Gone Are the Days and The Incident, which is recognized as helping pave the way for young African-American actors and filmmakers.

Among the many appearances that she made in various television series is her role as Cora Sanders, a Marxist college professor, in Season 1 of Police Woman. The character of Cora Sanders was obviously, but loosely, influenced by the real-life Angela Y. Davis. Dee was nominated for eight Emmy Awards, winning once for her role in the 1990 TV film Decoration Day. She was nominated for her television guest appearance in the China Beach episode, "Skylark". Her husband Ossie Davis (1917-2005) also appeared in the episode.

In 1995, she and Davis were awarded the National Medal of Arts. They were also recipients of The Kennedy Center Honors in 2004. In 2003, she narrated a series of WPA slave narratives in the HBO film Unchained Memories. In 2007 the winner of the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album was tied between Dee and Ossie Davis for With Ossie And Ruby: In This Life Together, and former President Jimmy Carter.

She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2007 for her portrayal of Mama Lucas in American Gangster. She won the Screen Actors Guild award for the same performance. At 83 years of age, Dee is currently the second oldest nominee for Best Supporting Actress, behind Gloria Stuart who was 87 when nominated for her role in Titanic.

About SAG-AFTRA

SAG-AFTRA represents more than 165,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other media professionals. SAG-AFTRA members are the faces and voices that entertain and inform America and the world. With national offices in Los Angeles and New York and local offices nationwide, SAG-AFTRA members work together to secure the strongest protections for media artists into the 21st century and beyond. Visit SAG-AFTRA online at SAGAFTRA.org.

Follow SAG-AFTRA on Twitter (twitter.com/sagaftra) and Facebook (facebook.com/sagaftra).

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