WITH OSSIE AND RUBY by Ossie Davis

WITH OSSIE AND RUBY

In This Life Together
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KIRKUS REVIEW

It's political activism, and not the usual soft, show-biz patter, that mostly sustains this joint autobiography.

Some disclosures we could do without, such as information on Dee and Davis's intended funeral arrangements - and the details of their open marriage.  But otherwise, this venerable couple of stage, screen, and television (and a host of political causes) acquit themselves well in summarizing their more than 50 years of marriage and business.  Although they do not fully explain the roots of their activism, their faces have had a knack for popping up in surprising places.  They were deeply involved in Paul Robeson's efforts, for instance, to retrieve his passport from the US government, and later in the anti-McCarthy battle being waged by Actor's Equity against the House Un-American Activities Committee.  Speaking up for Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Dee was labeled "a black pinko" and "fellow traveler."  But she also won a role as a defending angel in a Sholom Aleichem play.  Meanwhile, Davis delivered the assassinated Malcolm X's eulogy.  Ubiquitous though they've been, the couple attest to no major career "breakthroughs."  But while neither pretends to Hollywood or Broadway stardom, they have both appeared in numerous movies and television shows.  Davis, originally from Georgia, and Dee (from Harlem by way of Cleveland), span black theater going back to Harlem in the 1940s.  Davis was with the Rose McClendon Players and Dee with the American Negro Theatre.  Regrettably, we learn few specifics of their experiences there.  In fact, much of this book has to do with family, friends, relatives, and the couple's married life.  That's when it becomes a tad embarrassing - even maudlin.

Fortunately, the emphasis falls on political involvement, not on sentiment.  (32 b&w photos, not seen)(Author tour)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-688-15396-8
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1998