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Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee


Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee
by PR Newswire Photo Service

The 56 year marriage of Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee was one of mutual respect and dignity. They shared a passion for equality, social responsibility and justice, and are considered American treasures.


Ossie Davis:  Cogdell, Georgia on December 18, 1917. His name was supposed to have been Raiford Chatman Davis after his grandfather, but a clerk didn't hear clearly what his mother said and wrote Ossie instead of R.C. on his birth certificate.

Ruby Ann Wallace Dee: Cleveland, Ohio on October 27, 1924.


Ossie: February 04, 2005, in Miami Beach, Florida.

Ruby: On June 11, 2014, at the age of 91, Ruby Dee died at home in New Rochelle, New York. 

Ossie Davis was found dead in a hotel room at the Shore Club Motel in Miami Beach, Florida. Known for his integrity, sincerity, talent, and warmth, the man considered to be a wise sage was 87 years old. Ossie was working on the film "Retirement".

He was said to be suffering from heart disease and had recently recovered from pneumonia. His body was discovered by his grandson and paramedics.

Ruby Dee was in New Zealand, working on a movie at the time of his death.

They wrote in their joint biography, page 444, "Cremation after a public ceremony, and then, into an urn. A special urn, large enough and comfortable enough to hold both our ashes. Whoever goes first will wait for the other. When we are united at last, we want the family to say good-bye and seal the urn forever. Then on the side, in letters not too bold-but not too modest either-we want the following inscription: 'Ruby and Ossie - In This Thing Together.' "

How They Met:

Although neither one of them can remember the actual moment they met one another, Ossie and Ruby met while performing in the Broadway drama "Jeb" at the Amsterdam Theater in new york City in December, 1946.


Wedding Date:

Three years after they met, Ossie proposed to Ruby by sending a telegram to her from Chicago. During one of their days off (a Thursday) from rehearsals, Ruby and Ossie rode the bus to Jersey City, New Jersey and were married on December 9, 1948 by a Baptist preacher.


Ruby and Ossie didn't have a big ceremony, and there was no wedding gown, no church service, and no pictures. They were married in New Jersey because there was no waiting period there. Ossie's brother Willie and Ruby's sister LaVerne were witnesses for their wedding. Ruby wore a brown suit.

Previous Marriages:

Ruby was married to Frankie Dee Brown, a midget, on August 31, 1941 in the Mother Zion AME Church by Reverend Benjamin Robeson.


She wore a dress she made herself that had a black velvet bodice, red plaid skirt and sleeves. They divorced in 1945.

Ages at Marriages:

First marriage, Ruby, nearly 17, and Frankie, ?? ;second marriage, Ruby, 24, and Ossie, a week shy of being 31.


Guy Davis, born in New York, New York on May 12, 1952. Guy is a blues guitarist, composer, actor, playwright, and producer. He conducts acting workshops. He was reportedly divorced from Dorothy, a museum curator, several years ago.


Nora Davis Day, an independent educator, and producer is married to Bill Day, an art director and graphics artist.

Dr. Hasna (nee LaVerne) Davis Muhammad is a published author, educator, and principal of Monroe-Woodbury High School in Central Valley, New York. She is married to Abdul Muhammad, a musician.



Ossie Davis attended Howard University.

Ruby Dee graduated from Hunter College in 1945.


Ossie first served in the Army during WWII in Liberia as a surgical technician working with wounded troops and local residents. He was later assigned as a writer and producer in the Special Services Department to both use and entertain military personnel in stage productions. He was honorably discharged in 1945. Ossie Davis has been a successful actor on screen, television, and stage. Additionally, he was a writer, film producer, television producer, and activist.

Ruby is an actress, civil rights activisit, and author.


Ossie, jazz.

Ruby enjoyed painting, playing the piano, studying world religions.



The couple was affiliated with the NAACP, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

Davis and Dee also made recordings for the blind, raised money to fight drug addiction and to help with the legal defense of arrested civil rights workers.

They founded the Institute of New Cinema Artists and also the Recording Industry Training Program. Together, with their three children, they formed the production company Emmalyn II Enterprises.

Together, Ossie and Ruby received many awards includig the Frederick Douglass Award from the New York Urban League in 1970, the Paul Robeson Citation from the Actors Equity in 1975, inducted into the NAACP Image Awards hall of Fame in 1989, Monarch Award in 1990, the Silver Circle Award by the Academy of Television Arts Sciences in 1994, the Presidential Medal for Lifetime Achievement In the Arts given at the White House by President and Mrs. Clinton in 1995, and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004. Between the two of them, they have 10 Emmy nominations.

Ruby was a 30 years plus survivor of breast cancer.

They had a gala benefit on their golden wedding anniversary and raised funds for 12 community theaters.



New Rochelle, New York.


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