Even after their deaths, the iconic love that actress Ruby Dee and actor Ossie Davis shared still inspires many of us to believe in true black love to this day.
The couple met in 1946 while starring in the Broadway play Jeb, married in 1948 and had three children. The legendary duo went on to star in countless stage plays and movie productions together. For the 80s babies, you probably remember them starring in Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing in 1989. In addition to acting, Dee and Davis were well-known civil rights activists and were both personal friends of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Together, they fought hard over the years for the equal rights of African-Americans in the United States.
In 1998, the couple wrote a joint autobiography, With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together, where they shared intimate details of their marriage, revealing that they had an open marriage. The revelation took many by surprise, but as it does for some, it worked for Ossie and Ruby. However, the open part of the marriage was short lived.
In a quote taken from In This Life Together, Ossie talks about their decision to begin and end their open marriage.
“We were living one of the great love stories, I think, of the 20th century and we didn’t know it, nobody told us… It occurred to us, from observation and reasoning, that extramarital sex was not what really destroyed marriages, but rather the lies and deception that invariably accompanied it — that was the culprit. So we decided to give ourselves permission to sleep with other partners if we wished — as long as what we did was honest as well as private, and that neither of us exposed the family to scandal or disease. We had to be discreet and, if the word can be apt, honorable in our behavior, both to ourselves, to whomever else might be involved, and most of all, to the family. And for the most part, we were… But looking back, I’d say no matter what did or did not happen, we freed each other. And in doing that, we also freed ourselves… Sex is fine, but love is better. That’s the most important part of being free. In light of what we learned, is extramarital sex something we recommend as a regular part of marriage? Not now… not anymore. Not since AIDS has entered the equation, and genital herpes, syphilis, and other veneral diseases…”
The saying goes, “If you love someone, let them go. If they come back, it was meant to be.” Could this be why their marriage lasted for more than six decades? Because they were willing to take the risk to prove that their love was forever? Dee and Davis certainly put their marriage through the ultimate test and it’s safe to say that it helped them on their quest to find true love. Their marriage lasted until the death of Ossie on February 4, 2005 in Miami, FL and through Ruby’s passing on June 11, 2014 in their home in New Rochelle, NY. Their love still lives on.
Watch as Ruby Dee hilariously shares how she wasn’t interested in Ossie at all when they first met to when she fell deeply in love with him.
Love really does conquer all!
Written By: Nicole Cunningham