N.Y. memorial service to honour life of actress, activist Ruby Dee

NEW YORK Wed Jul 2, 2014 8:43am IST

Phylicia Rashad introduces the ''In Memoriam'' segment, paying tribute to actress and activist Ruby Dee (L) and author Maya Angelou, during the 2014 BET Awards in Los Angeles, California June 29, 2014.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Phylicia Rashad introduces the ''In Memoriam'' segment, paying tribute to actress and activist Ruby Dee (L) and author Maya Angelou, during the 2014 BET Awards in Los Angeles, California June 29, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Friends, family and fans of actress and activist Ruby Dee, who died last month at the age of 91, will honour her life and legacy at a memorial service in New York in September, a family spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Dee, who won acclaim in films, theatre and television and along with her late husband actor Ossie Davis, was a notable figure in the U.S. civil rights movement.

Through her performances, President Barack Obama said, the petite actress "paved the way for generations of black actors and actresses and inspired African-American women across our country."

The memorial service - at the Riverside Church in Manhattan on Sept. 20 - will include songs, tributes and reflections from family and colleagues of Dee, who was nominated for an Oscar for her role in "American Gangster" and won an Emmy in 1991 for the TV movie "Decoration Day."

"Ruby was a extraordinary life force," Terrie Williams, a spokeswoman for the family said. "People were very connected to her and to Ozzie."

She added that Dee managed to successfully use her art and activism, without compromising who she was, and her visibility to make a difference.

"Those are the key reasons she is being celebrated," Williams added.

A private service followed Dee's death on June 11. The memorial will be open to the public.

(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Eric Kelsey and Steve Orlofsky)

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