Jul 5, 2014

Ruby Dee

It was a relief and somewhat bittersweet seeing Ruby Dee nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in American Gangster a few years ago.

For all of the years I've known of her as an actress, I was thankful that the Academy honored her among its nominees for the category.

As I saw her face moments before the award recipient was announced, my mind went immediately to Ossie Davis, her legendary actor husband.  She, like myself and those that are aware of their legacy, must surely have thought about him and how it would have been nice for him to have been there with her at the time.

Spike Lee's 1989 classic film Do The Right Thing features the late husband and wife. Symbolically they were the eldest of the characters in the film and of the cast of actors.
It would take me years later to understand just how much they were veterans of the stage and screen.

I may have taken for granted Davis & Dee in the film because my focus was more on the younger characters and recognizable faces but when I studied acting a bit more seriously I realized Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee's careers were nothing to overlook.

The film version of Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin in The Sun contains my favorite Sidney Poitier acting moments on screen beside In The Heat of the Night.  The film also contains Ruby Dee's performance as his wife.

An impromptu visit to a Montreal record store brought me face to face with the soundtrack to the Jules Dassin film Uptight.  To my surprise and delight, the all-black cast featured Ruby Dee.  I have little knowledge of Jules Dassin's films but to learn he directed an all-black cast is a revelation. I also had no idea Time is Tight by Booker T. & The M.G's was from that film.

I was fortunate to have found the book In This Life Together which provides more insight into their legendary lives and careers.

By accident, on purpose or simply fated, I have learned that Ruby Dee has been part of the American film history for decades.

Ruby Dee passed away on June 11, 2014. 

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