Ruby Dee

Actress


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her two-hour Archive interview, Ruby Dee (1922-2014) talks about her start in show business as an actress in feature films and on Broadway, and describes the experience of being an African-American lead actress working in series television — a rare sight in the 1950s and '60s. She discusses her early television work, such as her regular role in the soap opera Guiding Light (as "Martha Frazier"). Dee details her involvement with the Civil Rights Movement, recounts her friendships with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., and shares how Sidney Poitier used to hold get-togethers for the Movement's key individuals. She outlines her numerous roles in television movies and miniseries in the 1970s including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Roots: The Next Generations, which she and husband Ossie Davis helped bring to the small screen. She also talks of her many collaborations with Davis, including their radio show, With Ossie and Ruby (1981-82). Harold Dow conducted the interview in New Rochelle, NY on May 15, 2000.

"I believe that human beings are like members of a cosmic orchestra. Each of us has a vibration and a sound. Each of us is a different instrument and as an actor, what I'm supposed to do is to hear the sounds and the silences and find the rhythms of the people."

Highlights
Ruby Dee on appearing as a regular on Peyton Place
01:03
Ruby Dee on meeting husband Ossie Davis
03:05
Ruby Dee on meeting Malcolm X
02:09
Ruby Dee on her and husband Ossie Davis' involvement in the development of Roots
07:23
Ruby Dee on how she'd like to be remembered
02:11
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early years and influences; on changing her name; on growing up in Harlem; on writing poetry as a child; on her parents and siblings
On her hobbies growing up; on her mother insisting that she be dedicated to her schoolwork; on joining the American Negro Theater; on her jobs during her high school years; on wanting to be a dentist; on attending Hunter College; on her first marriage

Chapter 2

On her early film roles in What a Guy and in an army film to combat venereal disease; on attending Methodist church; on her her early recollections of television; on the 1939 World's Fair
On the American Negro Theater; on meeting Ossie Davis and on his talent; on the film "No Way Out;" on traveling cross-country by train; on protesting the death penalty for the Rosenberg; on being blacklisted and listed in Red Channels

Chapter 3

On her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement; on meeting Malcolm X; on meeting Martin Luther King, Jr; on the role of television in the Civil Rights Movement
On her television work in the 1960s; on appearing as a regular on Guiding Light and Peyton Place; on her and husband Ossie Davis' involvement in the development of Roots; on With Ossie and Ruby

Chapter 4

On Long Day's Journey Into Night and The Glass Menagerie; on A Raisin in the Sun, Decoration Day and on Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years
On guest starring on Cosby in 1996; on how TV's portrayal of minorities has changed; on what represents the best of television; on how she'd like to be remembered
Shows

Cosby

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Ruby Dee on guest starring on Cosby in 1996
00:45

Guiding Light

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Ruby Dee on appearing as a regular on Guiding Light
01:09

Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years

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Ruby Dee on Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years
01:28

Peyton Place

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Ruby Dee on appearing as a regular on Peyton Place
01:03

Roots

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Ruby Dee on her and husband Ossie Davis' involvement in the development of Roots
07:23

Roots: The Next Generations

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Ruby Dee on her and husband Ossie Davis' involvement in the development of Roots
07:23
Topics

Characters & Catchphrases

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Ruby Dee on her role on Peyton Place
01:03

Hollywood Blacklist

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Ruby Dee on protesting the death penalty for the Rosenbergs and being blacklisted in Red Channels
12:12

Minorities

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Ruby Dee on her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement
15:07
Ruby Dee on her and husband Ossie Davis' involvement in the development of Roots
07:23
Ruby Dee on how TV's portrayal of minorities has changed
01:56
Professions

Actress

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Ruby Dee on one of her first film roles - an Army movie to combat venereal disease
00:27
Genres

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Ruby Dee on her and husband Ossie Davis' involvement in the development of Roots
07:23
People

Harry Belafonte

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Ruby Dee on meeting Martin Luther King, Jr., through Harry Belafonte
02:12

Bill Cosby

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Ruby Dee on guest starring on Cosby in 1996
00:45

Ossie Davis

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Ruby Dee on meeting husband Ossie Davis
03:05
Ruby Dee on Ossie Davis' talent
02:41
Ruby Dee on the film "No Way Out" with Sidney Poitier and Ossie Davis
00:59
Ruby Dee on her and husband Ossie Davis' involvement in the development of Roots
07:23

Alex Haley

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Ruby Dee on her and husband Ossie Davis' involvement in the development of Roots
07:23

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Ruby Dee on meeting Martin Luther King, Jr.
02:12
Ruby Dee on similarities and differences between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.
03:41

Sidney Poitier

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Ruby Dee on the film "No Way Out" with Sidney Poitier and Ossie Davis
00:59
Ruby Dee on A Raisin in the Sun and Buck the Preacher
00:48

David L. Wolper

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Ruby Dee on her and husband Ossie Davis' involvement in the development of Roots
07:23

Malcolm X

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Ruby Dee on meeting Malcolm X
02:09
Ruby Dee on similarities and differences between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.
03:41

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