Race and Technology

A blog about the intersection of race and technology.

In Love With A Starlet

My father never bragged about his life prior to my mother. But when it came to Ruby Dee, he seemed to get uncharacteristically mushy. And his personalized, autographed pictures of a beautiful young starlet hinted their's might be more than just a friendship between two young people growing up in the same Williamsbridge neighborhood of the Bronx.

While researching a book about my father, John Stanley Ford, the first black software engineer in America, I came across surprising information about his relationship with the legendary black screen and stage actress. In her autobiography, written with her equally famous actor-husband Ossie Davis, Ruby recalled how my father introduced her to a world "outside the all-girl cocoon"[1] and also to her 75-year-long acting career, which began at the American Negro Theatre in Harlem.[2] She also writes about vacation time spent with my father.[3]

Toward the end of her life, I got to meet and spend time with Ruby in Mississippi. I also got to ask her about my father. She wistfully told me of their early dates. Toward the end of her autobiography Ruby relates an argument she had with Ossie, which began with him saying, "You know what? Maybe you should have married Stanley."[4]

Throughout his life, my father, Stanley, periodically visited Ruby at her home in New Rochelle, New York.

[1] Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together (New York: HarperCollins, 2000), 91.

[2] Davis and Dee, With Ossie and Ruby, 92.

[3] Davis and Dee, With Ossie and Ruby, 97.

[4] Davis and Dee, With Ossie and Ruby, 218. 

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Tuesday, 28 May 2024