Dee starred in over 100 films and TV shows, shooting into the spotlight with her role in 1950's The Jackie Robinson Story. She played Ruth in the first film adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun, and earned an Academy Award nomination for her role in American Gangster. Her final film was King Dog, a forthcoming drama starring Ice-T and Akon.
Dee was married to actor Ossie Davis, and the two frequently appeared in films together. They were married 56 years and had three children.
A friend of both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, Dee was also a vocal proponent of civil rights. Along with Davis, who died in 2005, she took part in Dr. King's 1963 March on Washington. For her work in activism, she received the Frederick Douglass Award in 1970 from the National Urban League.
Born in Cleveland, Dee passed away peacefully in her home in New Rochelle, NY, surrounded by family and friends, according to her agent.
As a farewell to the actress, here's Dee playing one of her most memorable characters — the ornery Mother Sister — opposite Davis in Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing: