Actress Ruby Dee won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for American Gangster and has received her very first Oscar nomination for the role as well. Dee’s acting career spans over sixty years. The Archive interviewed both Dee and her late husband (and frequent) co-star Ossie Davis.
Ruby Dee talked about her start as an actress in feature films and on Broadway. She described the experience of being an African-American lead actress working in series television— a rare sight in the 1950s and 60s. She described her early work in television, such as her regular role in the 1955 soap opera This Is Nora Drake. She talked about her continued work in television in the 1960s on the anthology series Actor’s Choice, Camera Three, and Play of the Week, as well as the drama series The Nurses, East Side/West Side, and The Defenders. She talked about her regular roles on the series The Guiding Light (as “Martha Frazier”) and Peyton Place (as “Alma Miles”). She talked about her numerous roles in television movies and miniseries in the 1970s including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Roots: The Next Generations. She spoke of her collaborations with her husband of many years Ossie Davis, including their radio show With Ossie and Ruby (1981-82).