Cicely Tyson Dies at Age 96
GettyPASADENA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 16 (Photo
by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
Cicely Tyson, an iconic Black actress whose career spans over six decades, has died at the age of 96.
“I have managed Miss Tyson’s career for over 40 years, and each year was a privilege and blessing,” her manager, Larry Thompson, said in a statement to Variety. “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.”
Tyson had one daughter, who she referred to as Joan in her memoir, Just As I Am. She was married twice, including to musician Miles Davis for seven years.
born December 19, 1924 and was raised in the Harlem section of New
York city.. At the age of 18-years-old she began modeling and then entered
the world of acting in 1956. She became the first African-American to star in
television drama on East
Side/West Side in 1963. She was the the first African American
actress to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Television Movie
for her performance in The Autobiography of Miss Jane
Pittman. Tyson is one of the 11 Black actresses to
be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.
career, she received many accolades, nominations and honors. Tyson became a
member of the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1977. She was also been honored
by the Congress of Racial Equality and by the National Council of Negro Women.
And in 2010, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
presented Tyson with its 95th Spingarn Medal — an award given to African Americans
who have reached outstanding levels of achievement. In 2016, she was honored
with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama.
also received a Tony Award, for 2013’s The
Trip to Bountiful, and a honorary Oscar in 2018. She has been
nominated for an Emmy five times and received a Kennedy Center honor in 2015.
starred in movies and television shows including Sounder, The Autobiography of Miss
Jane Pittman, Roots, Just An Sweet Old Song, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Why
Did I Get Married Too?, How to Get Away With Murder, A Fall From Grace, Mission
Impossible, House of Cards, Idlewild, Alex Cross, Madea’s Family Reunion and
in Sounder is
a part of our history, a testimony to the strength of humankind,” Tyson
told The New York Times in
1972. “Our whole Black heritage is that of struggle, pride and dignity. The
Black woman has never been shown on the screen this way before.”
Tyson opened up a bit about her marriage to the late Miles Davis. Despite
allegations of abuse, she said spoke graciously of him during an interview
on CBS This Morning
With Gayle King.
chat with New York
Times Magazine, she discussed the one time Davis physically
recent interview with NPR,
she still spoke highly of Davis. “I wish people knew the Miles Davis that I
knew,” she said. “Not only was he brilliantly talented, he was brilliantly
sensitive. And that is the Miles Davis that people… don’t know that he was
trying to protect.”
media is getting filled posts of people sharing their shock and sadness about
Tyson’s death as well as recognizing how much of an icon she was.
great stories about Cicely Tyson! Whew: that lady was amazing. While shooting a
doc on her in Spanish Harlem—people kept stopping their cars! In the street! To
hop out and say hi! Old people. Teenagers. Middle aged fans. “Ciss-el-lee”
they’d chant as she’d walk by!”
good I have accomplished as an actress I believe came in direct proportion to
my efforts to portray Black women who have made positive contributions to my