​Passage: Ruby Dee

Actress Ruby Dee gives a reading at Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington in Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963. Charles Del Vecchio, The Washington Post/Getty Images

It happened this week . . . the passing of a star whose leading roles weren't just confined to stage and screen.

Actress Ruby Dee died Wednesday at her home outside New York.

She achieved her breakout role in 1959 opposite Sidney Poitier in the Broadway drama, "A Raisin in the Sun" . . . roles they reprised two years later on film.

By then she was already long-married to fellow actor Ossie Davis, with whom she performed in 11 plays and five films, including Spike Lee's 1989 movie, "Do the Right Thing."

But their most important collaboration was OFF screen, where they were life-long leaders of the civil rights movement, including the 1963 march on Washington.

Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis shared Kennedy Center Honors in 2004.

And after his death the following year, Ruby Dee carried on, winning an Oscar nomination for her role in the 2007 film, "American Gangster."

"Throughout her remarkable performances," President Obama said, "Ruby paved the way for generations of black actors and actresses, and inspired African-American women across our country."

Broadway theaters dimmed their lights briefly Friday night to honor the memory of one of their best.

Ruby Dee was 91.

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