Ruby Dee Biography (1924-)

Born Ruby Ann Wallace, October 27, 1924 (some sources say 1923), in Cleveland, OH; daughter of Marshall Edward (a cook; some sources say a road porter) and Emma (a teacher; maiden name, Benson) Wallace; married Ossie Davis (an actor, writer, producer, and director), December 9, 1948; children: Nora, LaVerne(also known as Hasna), Guy. Addresses: Agent: The Artists Agency, 10000 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90067-7007.

Favorite roles Luttiebelle in Purlie Victorious, Lena in Boseman and Lena, and Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra.

Nationality
American
Gender
Female
Occupation
Actress, director, writer
Birth Details
October 27, 1924
Cleveland, Ohio, United States

Famous Works

  • CREDITS
  • Stage Appearances
  • Natural Man, American Negro Theatre, New York City, 1941
  • Starlight, American Negro Theatre, 1942
  • Three's a Family, American Negro Theatre, 1943
  • (Broadway debut) A native, South Pacific (drama), Cort Theatre, New York City, 1943
  • Ruth, Walk Hard, American Negro Theatre, 1944
  • Libby George, Jeb, Martin Beck Theatre, New York City, 1946
  • Title role, Anna Lucasta, Mansfield Theatre, New York City, 1946
  • Arsenic & Old Lace, 1946
  • John Loves Mary, 1946
  • Marcy, A Long Way from Home, Maxine Elliot's Theatre, New YorkCity, 1948
  • Mrs. Ellen McClellan, The Washington Years, American Negro TheatrePlayhouse, 1948
  • Evelyn, The Smile of the World, Lyceum Theatre, New York City, 1949
  • Defending Angel, The World of Sholom Aleichem, Barbizon Plaza Theatre, New York City, 1959
  • Ruth Younger, A Raisin in the Sun, Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York City, 1959
  • Luttiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins, Purlie Victorious, Cort Theatre, 1961
  • Cordelia, King Lear, American Shakespeare Festival, Stratford, CT,1965
  • Kate, The Taming of the Shrew, American Shakespeare Festival, 1965
  • The Talking Skull, White Barn Theatre, Westport, CT, 1965
  • Julia Augustine, The Wedding Band, Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre, AnnArbor, MI, 1966
  • Cassandra, Agamemnon, Ypsilanti Greek Theatre, Ypsilanti, MI, 1966
  • Iris, The Birds, Ypsilanti Greek Theatre, 1966
  • Oresteia, Ypsilanti Greek Theatre, 1966
  • Lena, Boseman and Lena, Circle in the Square, New York City, 1970
  • The Imaginary Invalid, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, PA, 1971
  • Julia Augustine, The Wedding Band, New York Shakespeare Festival,Public Theatre, New York City, 1972
  • Gertrude, Hamlet, New York Shakespeare Festival, Delacorte Theatre, 1975
  • Lead role, Twin-Bit Gardens (musical play; also known as Take It from the Top), New Federal Theatre, 1979
  • Mattie Cooper, Checkmates, 46th Street Theatre, New York City, 1988
  • Amanda Wingfield, The Glass Menagerie, Kreeger Theatre, Washington, DC, 1989
  • Flying West, 1994
  • Two Hahs-Hahs and a Homeboy, 1995
  • My One Good Nerve: A Visit with Ruby Dee, Danny and Sylvia Kaye Playhouse, New York City, 1998, then Schomburg Center at the Langston Hughes Theatre, New York City, 2000
  • Major Tours
  • Title role, Anna Lucasta, U.S. cities, 1944
  • (With Davis) A Treasury of Negro World Writing (poetry readings),U.S. cities, 1964
  • Stage Director
  • Twin-Bit Gardens (musical play; also known as Take It from theTop), New Federal Theatre, 1979
  • Zora Is My Name!, Howard University, 1983
  • Film Appearances
  • What a Guy, 1939
  • That Man of Mine, 1947
  • Janie, The Fight Never Ends, 1949
  • Rachel Robinson, The Jackie Robinson Story, Eagle Lion, 1950
  • Connie Brooks, No Way Out, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1950
  • Rachel, The Tall Target (also known as The Man on the Train), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1951
  • Irma Jackson, Go, Man, Go!, United Artists, 1954
  • The Great American Pastime, 1956
  • Lucy Tyler, Edge of the City (also known as A Man Is Ten Feet Tall), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1957
  • Elizabeth, St. Louis Blues, Paramount, 1958
  • Christine the Maid, Taking a Giant Step, Shelia/United Artists, 1959
  • Ruth, Virgin Island (also known as Our Virgin Island), Countryman/Films-Around the World, 1960
  • Ruth Younger, A Raisin in the Sun, Paman-Doris/Columbia, 1961
  • Thief, The Balcony, City Film Corporation/Continental, 1963
  • Luttiebelle Gussie Mae Jenkins, Gone Are the Days (also known as The Man from C.O.T.T.O.N.; based on Ossie Davis's Purlie Victorious), Hammer, 1963
  • Laurie, Uptight, Marluikin/Paramount, 1965
  • Joan Robinson, The Incident, Moned/Fox, 1968
  • Narrator, King: A Filmed Record ... Montgomery to Memphis, 1970
  • Netta's mother, Black Girl, Cinerama, 1972
  • Ruth, Buck and the Preacher, Columbia, 1972
  • Lorraine Hansberry: The Black Experience in the Creation of Drama,1975
  • Leah Matanzina, Countdown at Kusini, Tan International Ltd. of Nigeria-Gipp Productions/Columbia, 1976
  • The Torture of Mothers, 1980
  • Female, Cat People, RKO, 1982
  • Fantastic freak, Wild Style, 1982
  • Mother Sister, Do the Right Thing, Universal, 1989
  • Corrine Dart, Love at Large, 1990
  • Lucinda Purify, Jungle Fever, Universal, 1991
  • Narrator, Color Adjustment, 1991
  • Old Lucinda, Jazztime Tale, 1992
  • Rachel, Cop & 1/2 (also known as Cop and a Half), 1993
  • Evangeline Ferguson, Just Cause, 1995
  • Jennie, Tuesday Morning Ride, 1995
  • Hortense, A Simple Wish (also known as The Fairy Godmother), 1997
  • Voice of narrator, A Time to Dance: The Life and Work of Norma Canner, 1998
  • Margo, Baby Geniuses, Columbia TriStar/Sony Pictures Entertainment, 1999
  • Voice of narrator, The Unfinished Journey (documentary), 1999
  • Television Appearances
  • Series
  • Martha Frazier, The Guiding Light, CBS, 1967
  • Alma Miles, Peyton Place, ABC, 1968-69
  • Watch Your Mouth, PBS, 1978
  • With Ossie and Ruby (also known as Ossie and Ruby!), National Black Network, 1980-81
  • Voice of Alice the Great, Little Bill, Nickelodeon, 1999-
  • Movies
  • Lucinda, Deadlock, NBC, 1969
  • Sue Anne Lucas, The Sheriff, ABC, 1971
  • Ruth Campanella, It's Good to Be Alive, CBS, 1974
  • Grandmother Baxter, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, CBS, 1979
  • Irene Whitfield, All God's Children, ABC, 1980
  • Mary Tyrone, Long Day's Journey into Night, ABC Cable, 1983
  • Mrs. Grimes, Go Tell It on the Mountain, 1984
  • Rowena, Decoration Day, NBC, 1990
  • Mallie Robinson, Jackie's mother, The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson, 1990
  • Mrs. Lydia Wilson, The Ernest Green Story, Disney Channel, 1993
  • Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday, PBS, 1993
  • Indigo, Captive Heart: The James Mink Story, CBS, 1996
  • Sophia, Mr. & Mrs. Loving, Showtime, 1996
  • Mrs. Mitchell, "The Badge," The Wall, Showtime, 1998
  • Mommit Porter, Passing Glory, TNT, 1999
  • Annie Elizabeth "Bessie" Delany, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years (also known as Having Our Say), CBS, 1999
  • Grandmother, A Storm in Summer, Showtime, 2000
  • Mrs. Henry, Finding Buck McHenry, Showtime, 2000
  • Miniseries
  • Queen Haley, Roots: The Next Generation, ABC, 1979
  • Faye Williams, The Atlanta Child Murders, CBS, 1985
  • Keckley, Gore Vidal's Lincoln (also known as Lincoln),NBC, 1988
  • Dorothy Stone, Sidney Sheldon's Windmills of the Gods (also known as Windmills of the Gods), CBS, 1988
  • Mother Abigail, The Stand (also known as Stephen King's TheStand), ABC, 1994
  • Specials
  • Dr. Bianca Pearson, staff member, D.H.O., 1973
  • Host, Windows on Women, 1985
  • (With Davis) Host, Martin Luther King: The Dream and the Drum, PBS, 1986
  • Narrator, Treemonisha, 1986
  • Host ("Ossie & Ruby") and Mary Terrell, A Letter to Booker T.,1987
  • Alice Weatherscott, Alice in Wonder, 1987
  • Hattie Perkins, Crazy Hattie Enters the Ice Age, 1987
  • Johnson's mother, Crown Dick, 1987
  • Herself, Making "Do the Right Thing," 1989
  • Narrator and Zora Neale Hurston, "Zora Is My Name!," American Playhouse, PBS, 1990
  • Narrator, Nigerian Art: Kindred Spirits, 1990
  • The 22nd Annual NAACP Image Awards, 1990
  • Diamonds on the Silver Screen, 1992
  • Guiding Light: The Primetime Special, 1992
  • The 24th Annual NAACP Image Awards, 1992
  • Presenter, The 48th Annual Tony Awards, 1994
  • Narrator, After Goodbye: An AIDS Story, PBS, 1994
  • Voice of Mrs. Calloway, grandmother, Whitewash, HBO, 1994
  • Narrator, Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul, PBS, 1995
  • Narrator, Mississippi, America, PBS, 1996
  • Sidney Poitier: The Defiant One, Arts and Entertainment, 1997
  • An Evening of Stars: A Celebration of Educational Excellence Benefiting the United Negro College of Fund, BET and syndicated, 1998
  • Narrator, God's Gonna Trouble the Water, PBS, 1998
  • NYTV: By the People Who Made It, PBS, 1998
  • Narrator, The Rise of Christianity: The First Thousand Years, Artsand Entertainment, 1998
  • Small Steps, Big Strides: The Black Experience in Hollywood, AMC,1998
  • America's Millennium, CBS, 1999
  • Amsterdam News: Stories of Black New York, NBC, 2000
  • Voice of Grandma, The Steadfast Tin Soldier: An Animated Special fromthe "Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child" Series (animated),HBO, 2000
  • Episodic
  • "Actor's Choice," Camera Three, CBS, 1960
  • "Seven Times Monday," Play of the Week, WNTA, 1960
  • "Black Monday," Play of the Week, WNTA, 1961
  • Laura, "Decision in the Ring," The Fugitive, ABC, 1963
  • Harriet Tubman, "Go Down Moses," The Great Adventure, CBS, 1963
  • Jenny Bishop, "Express Stop to Lenox Ave.," The Nurses, CBS, 1963
  • "No Hiding Place," East Side/West Side, CBS, 1964
  • The Eternal Light, NBC, 1964
  • The Defenders, CBS, 1965
  • "Slavery," The History of the Negro People, NET, 1965
  • "Neighbors," Armchair Theatre, ABC (Manchester, England), 1966
  • The Sheriff, ABC, 1971
  • "To Be Young, Gifted and Black," NET Playhouse, PBS, 1972
  • "Target Black," Police Woman, NBC, 1975
  • Narrator, "Tar Beach," Reading Rainbow, PBS, 1983
  • Eleanor Simpson, "Personal Demons," Spenser: For Hire, CBS, 1987
  • Narrator, "Jazztime Tale," Long Ago and Far Away, 1989
  • Ruby, "Skylark," China Beach, 1990
  • Viola Watkins, "Wham, Bam, Thank You, Mammy," The Golden Girls, CBS, 1990
  • Aurelia Danforth, Evening Shade, 1992
  • Estelle Williams, Middle Ages, 1992
  • Narrator, "Porgy and Bess: An American Voice," Great Performances,PBS, 1998
  • Alicia, "Baptism of Fire," Promised Land, CBS, 1998
  • Mattie, "Ol' Betsy," Cosby, CBS, 1999
  • LaBelle, "The Christmas Gift," Touched by an Angel, CBS, 1999
  • Television Work
  • Specials
  • Executive producer, Martin Luther King: The Dream and the Drum, PBS, 1986
  • Producer and director, A Letter to Booker T., 1987
  • Producer, Alice in Wonder, 1987
  • Producer, Crazy Hattie Enters the Ice Age, 1987
  • Executive producer, Crown Dick, 1987
  • Producer, Mama, 1987
  • Producer and director, My Man Bovanne, 1987
  • Producer, Refrigerator, 1987
  • Producer and director, The 85-Year-Old Swinger, 1987
  • Other Television Work
  • Worked as coproducer, Today Is Ours, CBS; and (with Davis and BillMoyers), A Walk through the 20th Century, CBS.
  • Radio Appearances
  • This Is Norah Drake, CBS, 1955
  • The Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee Story Hour, National Black Network, 1974-78
  • RECORDINGS
  • Taped Readings
  • (With Davis) The Poetry of Langston Hughes, Caedmon, 1969
  • Also has recorded poems and stories.
  • Videos
  • (With Davis) Hands Upon the Heart, 1991
  • Hands Upon the Heart II, 1993
  • Narrator, M and M Smith: For Posterity's Sake, Reed Publishing, 1997
  • WRITINGS
  • Books
  • (Editor) Glowchild, and Other Poems, Third Press, 1972
  • My One Good Nerve (short stories, poetry, and humor), Third WorldPress, 1987
  • (Reteller) Two Ways to Count to Ten (juvenile), Holt, 1988
  • (Reteller) The Tower to Heaven (juvenile), Holt, 1991
  • (With Davis) With Ossie & Ruby: In This Life Together (autobiography), Morrow, 1998
  • Plays
  • Twin-Bit Gardens (musical play; also known as Take It from theTop), produced off-Broadway at New Federal Theatre, 1979
  • Books with Legs, 1993
  • Screenplays
  • (With Jules Dassin and Julian Mayfield) Uptight (adapted from LiamO'Flaherty's novel The Informer), Paramount, 1968
  • Television Specials
  • Crazy Hattie Enters the Ice Age (television special), 1987
  • "Zora Is My Name!," American Playhouse (television special), PBS,1990
  • Also contributor to Voices of the Black Theatre; author of columnsfor newspapers and magazines, including New York Amsterdam News; andassociate editor, Freedomways magazine.

Recent Updates

December 5, 2004: Wallace will receive a lifetime achievement award atthe Kennedy Center honors ceremony in Washington, DC, on December 5, 2004. Source: New York Times, www.nytimes.com, September 16, 2004.February 4, 2005: Dee's husband, Ossie Davis, died on February 4, 2005, at the age of 87. Source: New York Times, www.nytimes.com, February 7, 2005.

Further Reference

OTHER SOURCES

    Books:
    • Encyclopedia of World Biography, September, 1998, second edition,Gale Research, 1998.
    Periodicals:
    • American Theatre, p. 67.
    • Ebony, March, 1997, p. 71; February, 1999, p. 48.
    • Jet, January 11, 1999, p. 30.

    User Contributions:

    Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

    CAPTCHA


    forum