Ruby Dee (born October 27, 1924) is an American actress, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist, and activist, perhaps best-known for co-starring in the film A Raisin in the Sun (1961).
Dee was born Ruby Ann Wallace in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of Gladys Hightower and Marshall Edward Nathaniel Wallace, a cook, waiter, and porter. After her mother left the family, Dee's father married Emma Amelia Benson, a schoolteacher. Dee grew up in Harlem, New York. She attended Hunter College High School and went on to graduate from Hunter College with degrees in French and Spanish in 1945. Dee is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Dee made several appearances on Broadway before receiving national recognition for her role in the 1950 film The Jackie Robinson Story. Her career in acting has crossed all major forms of media over a span of eight decades, including the films A Raisin in the Sun, in which she recreated her stage role as a suffering housewife in the projects, and Edge of the City. She played both roles opposite Sidney Poitier. During the 1960s, Dee appeared in such politically charged films as Gone Are the Days and The Incident, which is recognized as helping pave the way for young African-American actors and filmmakers.