Trendy Report: Ruby Dee Dies at 91, as Tribute Documentary Readies for June Premiere

Ruby Dee, the illustrious actress of film, stage and television, who garnered an Oscar nomination for her role in Ridley Scott’s 2007 offering,  American Gangster, passed away at her home in New Rochelle, N.Y., from natural causes.

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According to her agent, Michael Livingston, Dee died peacefully surrounded by family and friends. She was 91.

Ruby Dee may have been tiny in stature, but she proved to be a towering force by effortlessly dominating any project she was attached to and delivering memorable performances that caught the attention of fellow comrades, particularly another notable, her late husband Ossie Davis.

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The Cleveland born and Harlem raised thespian enjoyed an impeccable career in theater. Her most striking delivery was in 1963 when she was paired with Davis in Purlie Victorious. But before that she dazzled audiences and critics playing the stoic character of Ruth in A Raisin in the Sun (1961). In 1988, both Denzel Washington and the late Paul Winfield starred with Dee in the Broadway version of Checkmates. That same year, she was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in recognition for her solid contribution to the theater community at large.

Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee in “Purlie Victorious”

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Truth be told, her greatest achievement was marrying the man who would serve as her life compass. Both Davis and Dee were trailblazers. They not only shared a passion for their work, but also spent their entire lives seeped in progressive activism. In 1989, the NAACP admitted the eloquent couple into their Image Award Hall of Fame. A fitting tribute to their tireless work and revolutionary approach when it came to enhancing the scope of Black Cinema, by using it as a tool to ward off the paralyzing stigma of racial injustice. They shared the spotlight again in 2001 when they were bequeathed with the Screen Actors Guild’s Life Achievement Award.

The awards and accolades were a constant occurrence but in the midst of it all, there was a love story that would rival any of Shakespeare’s seductive sonnets.

Ossie Davies and Ruby Dee were a partnership, and they took their responsibilities to each other seriously. The only other Hollywood couple that navigated their professional and personal existence in an effortless way would be Paul Newman and Joanne Woodard. Ruby Dee was an astoundingly brilliant actress, but her devotion to her family surpassed everything she achieved and was the foundation of her success.

It was only natural to revere her from a distance but she was also blessed with family members who were just as awestruck. Her death is a huge loss but it will provide the incentive for a full-blown celebration of her life, by highlighting her immense contribution to humanity and entertainment.

Her grandson, Muta ‘Ali must have been privy to the fact that Dee was transitioning because he managed to whip up a spectacular tribute in a timely fashion. Life’s Essentials With Ruby Dee is a loving homage to his grandmother and grandfather, simply because it dissects the blueprint that directed them on the path that so many of us wish we could replicate.

Muta ‘Ali perfectly describes the objective of his endearing project – Hollywood Royal Couple Share Hard-Won Life’s Lessons on Love, Art and Activism with Grandson, Director Muta ‘Ali.

It would almost be a sin, if you were remotely related to such an inspiring couple and didn’t at least attempt to publicly celebrate them in way that elicits some measure of adulation. Muta ‘Ali had admirable access to greatness, and he utilized it to it’s fullest advantage. We get the bare bones of what made his grandparents tick in way that exposes all the wonderful qualities that we suspected they possessed. How does a righteously talented duo fulfill all their duties in every spectrum and still manage to keep their primal faucets intact. To find out, you have to submit yourself to this heartfelt documentary.

Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee will be screened on Sunday, June 22 at 1:50 pm at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) Theatre, 333 West 23Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues in Manhattan. Tickets are $12.00 and can be purchased by visiting www.abff.com.

For more information on the film, visit http://rubydee.lifeessentialsdocs.com/