Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee

Ossie & Ruby's Journey Through the 20th & 21st Centuries

Timeline 1960-1979 • Timeline 1980–present


Ossie and Ruby form a family production company, now known as Emmalyn II Productions Company, Inc. / Dee-Davis Enterprises.

With Ossie and Ruby begins its three-season run on PBS (two in partnership with KERA in Dallas, the last season with Howard University’s WHMM).
Third grandchild, Jihaad, is born.
Fourth grandchild, Brian, is born.
1986 Ossie returns to Broadway in I’m Not Rappaport.

Fifth grandchild, Jammal, is born.

Ruby’s My One Good Nerve, a book of poetry and short stories, is published.


1988 Ruby returns to Broadway in Checkmates.
Ruby’s play, Zora Is My Name (first staged at Howard University) is adapted for television by PBS’ American Playhouse series.
David Dinkins becomes the first African American mayor of New York City, and Douglas Wilder of Virginia becomes the first African American state governor since Reconstruction.
Ruby’s children’s book, Two Ways to Count to Ten, wins a Literary Guild Award.

Ossie and Ruby co-star in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, for which they both each win an NAACP Image Award.

Sixth grandchild, Imani, is born.
Seventh grandchild, Martial, is born.
Ruby wins an Emmy award for her performance in Decoration Day.
The Disappearance, Ruby’s stage adaptation of Rosa Guy’s novel (and the first of her Books With Legs™ series), premieres at Crossroads Repertory Theatre.
Ossie and Ruby receive the National Medal of Art from President Clinton.
Ruby’s one-woman show, My One Good Nerve, debuts in Seattle.
Ossie and Ruby celebrate their 50th anniversary with the publication of their joint autobiography, With Ossie & Ruby: In This Life Together.
Ossie and Ruby receive the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement award.

Ossie wins a Daytime Emmy award for his performance in Finding Buck McHenry.

Ossie’s final play, A Last Dance for Sybil, is staged with Ruby in the title role.
Ossie and Ruby receive the Kennedy Center Honors.
Ossie dies in Florida.

Ruby and (posthumously) Ossie receive the Marian Anderson Award
Ruby and (posthumously) Ossie win a Grammy® for the audio version of With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together.
Ruby receives her first Oscar nomination for playing Mama Lucas in American Gangster.

Barack Obama is the first African American to be elected President of the United States.

Ruby Dee dies at her home in New Rochelle.

Grandson Muta'Ali releases the documentary Life's Essentials with Ruby Dee.

Timeline 1960-1979 • Timeline 1980–present

Video clip, "Tribute to Louis Armstrong," from With Ossie and Ruby, PBS, c. 1980.

Ruby with Louis Gossett, Jr. in the PBS production of Zora Is My Name (1989).

Do the Right Thing is a joyful, tumultuous masterpiece--maybe the best film ever made about race in America...
— Jim Emerson, Amazon.com

Playbill for The Disappearance, 1993.