Hollywood icon and award-winning actress, Cicely Tyson who distinguished herself in theater, film, and television, has died at the age of 96.
According to a statement from her manager, Larry Thompson, she died on Thursday afternoon, January 28.
“With heavy heart, the family of Miss Cicely Tyson announces her peaceful transition this afternoon. At this time, please allow the family their privacy,” Thompson said in a statement.
“I have managed Miss Tyson’s career for over 40 years, and each year was a privilege and blessing. Cicely thought of her new memoir as a Christmas tree decorated with all the ornaments of her personal and professional life. Today she placed the last ornament, a Star, on top of the tree.”
The statement did not reveal the cause of death.
The actress chronicled her lengthy career in her first memoir, “Just As I Am,” which was just released on Tuesday, two days before her death.
Tyson made her film debut with a small role in 1957’s “Twelve Angry Men” and her formal debut in the 1959 Sidney Poitier film “Odds Against Tomorrow,” followed by “The Comedians,” “The Last Angry Man,” “A Man Called Adam” and “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.”
In 1974, she starred in “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” a television movie based on a novel by Ernest Gaines. Tyson was the title character, a woman born into slavery who lives well into the 20th century and takes part in African Americans’ struggles for civil rights.
She won two Emmys for the role, best actress in a drama and actress of the year. During her career, she would win a total of three Emmy Awards out of 15 nominations.
Throughout her career Tyson refused to play drug addicts, prostitutes or maids, roles she thought demeaning to Black women. She played former slaves, civil rights icons, sharecroppers, truthtellers, mothers, bringing a sense of depth, nobility, and grace to every character.
Her filmography includes some of the most celebrated movies and television shows featuring Black women in major roles: “Sounder” (1972), “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” (1974), “Roots” (1977), “The Marva Collins Story” (1981), “The Women of Brewster Place” (1989), and “The Help” (2011).
In November 2018, Tyson became the first African-American woman to receive an honorary Oscar. She was also inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame and was chosen to be inducted into the Television Academy’s Hall of Fame in 2020.
Tyson married jazz trumpeter Miles Davis in 1981, but their union ended in divorce in 1988.
In 2013, she reflected on her one and only marriage in an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon, describing her relationship with the jazz legend as “tumultuous” but one that also included “some of the most incredible moments in my life.”
The death of the renowned actress drew an outpouring of tributes from Hollywood stars and far beyond.
Celebrities around the world are paying tribute to Emmy award-winning actress Cicely Tyson, who died at the age of 96 on Thursday, January 28.
“With heavy heart, the family of Miss Cicely Tyson announces her peaceful transition this afternoon. At this time, please allow the family their privacy,” her manager, Larry Thompson said in a statement.
The statement did not reveal the cause of her death.
The Legendary American actress died two days after her first memoir, “Just As I Am,” which chronicled her lengthy career, was released.
Celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Barrack Obama, Michelle Obama, Whoopi Goldberg, Micheal B Jordan, Zendaya, Amanda Gorman, Gayle King, Tika Sumpter, Levar Burton, Sherri Shepherd, Robin Thede, Martin Luther King III, Tyler Perry, and many others have taken to their respective social media accounts to pay tributes to the actress.
‘In her extraordinary career, Cicely Tyson was one of the rare award-winning actors whose work on the screen was surpassed only by what she was able to accomplish off of it. She had a heart unlike any other—and for 96 years, she left a mark on the world that few will ever match,’ Former US president, Barrack Obama wrote on Twitter.
‘What struck me every time I spent time with Cicely Tyson was not necessarily her star power—though that was evident enough—it was her humanity. Just by walking into a room, she had this way of elevating everyone around her.’ ‘She was the personification of beauty, grace, wisdom, and strength, carrying forward a flame that not only guided her for 96 pathbreaking years but lit the way for so many of us.’ ‘I’ll miss her dearly, but I smile knowing how many people she inspired, just like me, to walk a little taller, speak a little more freely, and live a little bit more like God intended,’ Michelle Obama wrote on Twitter.
“Rest in power, Cicely Tyson. Thank you for your life, your love, your light,” Amanda Gorman wrote on Twitter.
‘You’ve paved the way for so many & blessed the world with your light! Thank you!!! Rest In Power,’ Micheal B Jordan wrote on Instagram.
‘The world lost a trailblazer today. #CicelyTyson paved the way for so many artists after her and beautifully portrayed iconic roles such as Harriett Tubman and my mother, Coretta Scott King. Rest in peace, Cicely. You will be missed,’ Martin Luther King III wrote on Twitter.
“This one hurts, today we honor and celebrate the life of one of the greatest to ever do it. Thank you Cicely Tyson. Rest in great power,” Zendaya wrote on Twitter.
Gayle King shared a touching video and simply said, “Thank you Cicely Tyson… for everything…”
‘America has had a lot of great actresses, but none greater than Cicely Tyson. Rest in Power’, Cynthia Nixon wrote on Twitter
“I’m devastated. My heart is just broken. I loved you so much!! You were everything to me! You made me feel loved and seen and valued in a world where there is still a cloak of invisibility for us dark chocolate girls. You gave me permission to dream….because it was only in my dreams that I could see the possibilities in myself. I’m not ready for you to be my angel yet. But…I also understand that it’s only when the last person who has a memory of you dies, that you’ll truly be dead. In that case, you will be immortal. Thank you for shifting my life. Thank you for the long talks. Thank you for loving me. Rest well,” Viola Davis wrote on Instagram.
‘I was sitting at the table working when I got this overwhelming feeling to watch Miss Jane Pittman. I hadn’t seen the movie in years. I didn’t even understand the feeling to turn it on, but I did anyway. Not 12 minutes into the movie my phone rang. It was Oprah calling to tell me that Cicely had died. This one brought me to my knees! She was the grandmother I never had and the wisdom tree that I could always sit under to fill my cup. My heart breaks in one beat, while celebrating her life in the next. To think that she lived for 96 years and I got to be a part of the last 16 brings me great joy. She called me son. Well, today your son grieves your loss and will miss our long talks, your laughter from your belly, and your very presence. Always so regal, always so classy, always a lady, always a queen. Every time we would talk I would ask, “How are you?” and you would say, “I’m still here. He must have something he wants me to do.” Well, I think it’s safe to say you have done all you were put here to do, and we are all better for it,’ Tyler Perry wrote on Instagram.
By Jide N.