Dee, who is also an Image nominee for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her work in "American Gangster," was selected by NAACP Board chairman Julian Bond as the 2008 Chairman's Award honoree. The special award is presented in recognition of an individual's special achievements and distinguished public service.
Bond stated, "Ruby Dee is a true American icon who has inspired generations of young actors and filmmakers. She is an accomplished actor, writer, and a tireless political activist. It's a rare privilege when you get to honor someone who has led by example."
Dee, the widow of playwright and actor Ossie Davis, has appeared in the films "The Jackie Robinson Story," "A Raisin in the Sun," "Gone Are the Days," "The Incident," and earned an Academy Award nomination for her latest film, "American Gangster." Dee's Broadway credits include A Raisin in the Sun, South Pacific, Checkmates and Purlie Victorious.
The two-time Emmy Award winner is also a member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the NAACP, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
The Image Awards, which honor diversity within the arts, will be aired Feb. 14 at 8 PM ET on the FOX network. *
Among the theatre-folk nominated for the 39th annual NAACP Image Awards are Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose her work in television's "The Starter Wife." Rose's upcoming Cat on a Hot Tin Roof co-star, Terrence Howard, is also nominated for his work in the film "Pride."
Come Back, Little Sheba's S. Epatha Merkerson is dually nominated for her work in "Law & Order" and "Girl Positive," while Denzel Washington received two nominations for "The Great Debaters" — in which he starred and directed. "Hairspray" star Queen Latifah was nominated for her work in that musical hit as well as television's "Life Support."
Original Dreamgirls star Loretta Devine is also among the nominees for the film "This Christmas." Tony Award winner Audra McDonald received a nod for her work on "Private Practice," as did original Rent cast member Taye Diggs. Also among the Rent alumni to receive an Image nomination was Jesse L. Martin for "Law & Order."
Take Me Out and Cyrano star Daniel Sunjata received a nomination for "The Bronx Is Burning," while Jimmy Smits — who appeared on Broadway in Anna in the Tropics —was nominated for the television series "Cane."
Drowning Crow playwright and actress Regina Taylor is nominated for "The Unit." "Grey's Anatomy" star Chandra Wilson was also nominated, while "Ugly Betty" received nominations for both America Ferrara and Vanessa Williams.
For a complete list of nominees visit www.naacpimageawards.net.