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GRAMMY-winning stage and screen actress Ruby Dee died June 11 in New Rochelle, N.Y. A cause of death has not been revealed. She was 91. Born in Cleveland and raised in New York, Dee made her Broadway debut in the 1943 production of "South Pacific." In 1959 she starred in the Broadway premiere of "A Raisin In The Sun" as the wife of Sidney Poitier — a role she reprised in the 1961 film adaptation. Her final Broadway appearance was in 1988's "Checkmates," which marked the debut of GRAMMY-nominated actor Denzel Washington. Dee's film career began in 1949 when she landed a role in the musical drama That Man Of Mine. She subsequently starred in 1950's The Jackie Robinson Story and 1958's St. Louis Blues, the latter in which she co-starred opposite GRAMMY winner Nat "King" Cole. In 2007 she earned an Academy Award nomination for Actress in a Supporting Role for her role as Mama Lucas in Ridley Scott's American Gangster. Her final film will be the still-in-production crime drama King Dog, which will also star GRAMMY winner Ice-T. Dee also had success on television, and earned an Emmy in 1991 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Special for Decoration Day. She earned a 2006 GRAMMY for Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Story Telling) for her memoir With Ossie And Ruby: In This Life Together. "A highly accomplished artist with a career that spanned seven decades, [Ruby Dee] helped break color boundaries within the entertainment industry, landing prominent roles on Broadway, television and film," said Recording Academy President/CEO Neil Portnow. "Her performances were powerful and commanding, influencing generations of fellow artists, and it was that passion and commitment that made her a formidable force in fighting for civil rights."
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