Ruby Dee

A revered black actress also known for her social activism, Cleveland native Ruby Dee was born Ruby Ann Wallace on Oct. 27, 1924. While in college, she worked with the American Negro Theatre in Harlem and later studied at the Actors Studio, spending her early career on the New York City stage before getting her film break with The Jackie Robinson Story (1950).

Since then, Dee has proved to be one of the most distinguished actresses of her generation. Her career highlights include groundbreaking work in A Raisin in the Sun (1961), playing a role she originated on Broadway; a stint as a doctor's wife on "Peyton Place" (1968-69); and an Emmy-winning performance in the made-for-TV movie Decoration Day (1990).

Dee received a Screen Actor's Guild Award and her first Oscar nomination for her spirited portrayal of Denzel Washington's mother in the crime drama American Gangster (2007).