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With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together Hardcover – October 21, 1998


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (October 21, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688153968
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688153960
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #930,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee met in 1945, when they were both performing in the same play on Broadway; Davis, resuming an acting career that had been interrupted by a World War II tour of duty in Liberia, was cast as the male lead, while Dee was originally hired as understudy to the female lead and soon found herself taking over the part. Three years later, still working together, they took advantage of a rehearsal-free day in their schedule to get married--and have been together through thick and thin ever since.

Trading turns with one another, Davis and Dee discuss the high and low points of more than a half century in each other's company. With Ossie & Ruby has enough stories for at least three books, covering the world of stage and film, the history of the civil rights movement, and the endurance of love and marriage. Their telling, in alternating first-person narration, is unflinching in its portrayal of the hardships they endured for being black-skinned and "left-wing" political activists--and equally firm in their continued dedication. This is a first-rate memoir by a man and a woman--each with a thriving career--who have collaborated to form a union even greater than the sum of its parts.

From Publishers Weekly

In December the co-authors will mark their 50th wedding anniversary, an almost unheard of milestone for two stars of the performing arts this century. Even before their marriage, according to Davis, "we were in love, head over heels, and stuck with each other forever!" Rather than just telling the story of a successful marriage, however, their book (related in alternate voices) provides a panorama of the 20th-century African American experience, or, as they label it, The Struggle. Both socialists and militant battlers for African American rights, Davis and Dee have known, and worked with, such leaders as W.E.B. DuBois, Paul Robeson, Martin Luther King and Malcom X. And they haven't shied away from the consequences of taking a public stand: during the flowering of McCarthyism, Dee was called a Communist sympathizer in the press. Still, with refreshing honesty, they steer clear of self-congratulation, as when Davis tells how, as a little boy, in exchange for a few pieces of peanut brittle, he acquiesced as some racist local cops mistreated him. Of course, Dee and Davis also chronicle their careers as pioneers on stage, film and television, from their involvement with New York's African American theater scene during the Depression to their work alongside stars like Sidney Poitier and Lena Horne. From Davis's youth as a "Negro boy surrounded by white hoods, burning crosses, and stories that brought the smell of burning flesh," to Dee's concern for the future of African American theater, this is a compelling read, effectively evoking the challenges and rewards that have attended the authors' roles as black leaders over the past 60 years. Photos not seen by PW. Appendix, index. Agents, Betty McCort and Susan Crawford. (Nov.) FYI: Also out this November is Ruby Dee's My One Good Nerve, a collection of verse based on her one-woman show of that title. (Wiley, $16.95 192p ISBN 0-471-31704-7)
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Davis and Dee also reveal interesting tidbits about their married life.
Reginald D. Garrard
They present a woooooooooonderful book that is an easy read, informative, witty, honest, thoroughly entertaining, as well as poignant, sad, and important.
Raider Jack
This is a great story about a legendary couple who spent decades navigating the worlds of Civil Rights and Hollywood.
Firestarter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Theresa McCormick on June 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
What a great glimpse into the lives of two beautiful people. I have always known these 2 were special but what confirmation!! A tenderly written life story. This sometimes hilarious book was a walk thru history and a true love story. I am changed.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 20, 1999
Format: Hardcover
When I was in college I had the very good fortune to attend several "An Evening with Ossie and Ruby" presentations on campus. These were a series of selected readings which Mr Davis and Ms Dee presented with honesty, skill and emotion. I became a fan at the first session. THey are people of talent, integrity, and human compassion.As a rule I do not read biographies but I had to read this book! and I am ever so glad I did.these are two people who broke barriers and reached new heights thus changing and improving both our culture and our arts. Their talent, commitment and perserverance is inspiring and reminds us that there are no small players in this drama called life.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Shantella Yolanda Sherman on January 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is by far the best book I have ever read. Ossie Davis says early in the text that his first love is writing. As a professional writer, I am amazed at the depth of his thoughts and eloquence with which he puts them together. Davis and Dee's memoirs are less like reading than enjoying a glorious symphony of essence of life. This is a must read for anyone who loves the English language.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By mistermaxxx08 HALL OF FAME on February 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
i've followed Ossie DAVIS&RUBY DEE for a long time.and this book is solid.overcoming Race,Class&Personal issues this couple have continued to thrive.i've followed MR.Davis's films such as Cotton COmes To Harlem.also him in Lets Do It Again.and Both of them in SPike Lee's Do The Right Thing&Jungle Fever.also hearing Mr.Davis doing Malcolm X's Eulogy Speech was moving near the end of the film Malcolm X.it's a powerful book hearing about Them overcoming so much and giving the world twice as much back.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I felt as if I were at a personal reading with Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis. The couple shared their most initimate moments with the reader. They are a couple which has withstood the test of time and their love for each other has no boundaries. They have been fighting racism and equality for many years and are still very involved. You go Ruby & Ossie.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Phoenix on February 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is by far one of the most beautiful memoirs ever written. Through the challenges they face they have acomplished so much in their outside life as well as within their own partnership of love and devotion. Such a positive book to read.

Also recommending: Books by Maya Angelou, The Color Purple, A Paper Life and Nightmares Echo
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Reginald D. Garrard VINE VOICE on June 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
Legendary husband and wife actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee tell, with much seriousness, whimsy and candor, their respective humble beginnings, their ultimate meeting and romance in the theater, and the struggles they faced as actors, as well as African-Americans in a time of civil and political change. Though they both sought success on the stage and screen, they were also influential in achieving rights for actors, as well as African-American during the Civil Rights Movement.

The pair mingled with the powerful on the Broadway stage (Howard da Silva, Lorraine Hansbury, etc.), rising stars of the movies (Sidney Poitier, Marlon Brando, John Cassavettes, Richard Widmark, to cite a few), and political powerhouses like Paul Robeson, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Never afraid to voice their political views, the pair even became "persons of interest" during the Communist "witch hunts" of the fifties.

Davis and Dee also reveal interesting tidbits about their married life. Speaking of their "open marriage" is quite a surprise but as one reads on, it is discovered that "infidelity" was not something that was not the norm, just an understanding that should something occur outside the bonds of marriage, it would be honestly admitted.

The book's format allows each of the actors to reveal his/her take on common events in their lives. Both come across as truly unique yet complimentary and complementary of the other.

An informative appendix at the book's end provides the reader with all the theatrical, television, and stage productions, along with audio performances, made by them individually or together. Of course, it is incomplete, considering that that book was published six years ago, and both have had additional performances to add to their lengthy career.

Even though Ossie has since passed on, this reminiscence is a fitting tribute to him, as well as homage to both their marriage and their talents as thespians.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Pawl VINE VOICE on October 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
I am so glad I read Ruby Dee's biography on the internet or I would have never known that she and her (late) husband, Ossie Davis, had written memoirs together, recounting their 50(+) year relationship. This book is a combination of genuinely warm and humorous passages, as well as insightful, deeply profound and moving chapters. They literally have a dialogue together, at some points of the book, even gently (and not so gently) correcting each other on stories and minute details that the other omitted.

Not only is this book wonderful from an historic point of view (it delves into the Civil Rights Movement and Dee's and Davis' role in that, as well as their experiences with racism, discrimination and the struggle to succeed in their craft, as actors of color--particularly African-American actors), but we also get a sense of how these two great individuals came to be the amazing actors/writers/producers/directors that we know today. While Dee always knew she was going to be on stage, Davis was initially going to become a playwright (though, fate had different plans). Together, they had children, grandchildren, and multitudes of life adventures (with plenty of bumps and u-turns along the way). Some may be surprised (and shocked) by the fact that Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis had an open marriage, when their jobs took them on the road and away from each other. Surprisingly, this brought them closer together. This was unexpected, to me, and it was intriguing to read their take on that (controversial) marriage choice that they made mutually.

I really reccomend this book, and I think more people should know about it. These people are legends in their craft, and they are not only wonderful actors, but very talented writers. I look forward to reading Ruby Dee's "My One Good Nerve" from which she adapted a touring show by the same name, in 1996.
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