(CNN)Cicely Tyson, an award-winning icon of the stage and screen who broke barriers for Black actresses with surpassing dignity, died Thursday, her longtime manager Larry Thompson confirmed to CNN.

She was 96. A family 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 Tuesday.Tyson embodied African American women who demanded attention — and more than that, respect. She played former slaves, civil rights icons, sharecroppers, truthtellers, mothers and other complicated women — bringing a sense of depth, nobility and grace to every character.Cicely Tyson Fast FactsCicely Tyson Fast FactsCicely Tyson Fast FactsHer 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).Read MoreYet she said her most important accomplishment happened in 2016 when President Barack Obama awarded her the Medal of Freedom.”In her long and extraordinary career, Cicely Tyson has not only exceeded as an actor, she has shaped the course of history,” Obama said that day.Tyson described that moment as “the most important thing that could happen to me.””I am one of three children, grew up in the area that is now known as El Barrio and that was the East Side (of New York),” she told TV host Steve Harvey. “To come from there to the White House with the first black President … to put that medal around my neck: Where can you go from there?”Cicely Tyson attends the Princess Grace Awards Gala in 2013.Cicely Tyson attends the Princess Grace Awards Gala in 2013. Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonCicely Tyson attends the Princess Grace Awards Gala in 2013.Hide Caption 1 of 22Tyson was discovered by a fashion editor at Ebony magazine. She had substantial theater parts in the early part of the 1950s, and she was on television regularly by the mid-1960s.Tyson was discovered by a fashion editor at Ebony magazine. She had substantial theater parts in the early part of the 1950s, and she was on television regularly by the mid-1960s. Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonTyson was discovered by a fashion editor at Ebony magazine. She had substantial theater parts in the early part of the 1950s, and she was on television regularly by the mid-1960s.Hide Caption 2 of 22Tyson appears in an episode of the television show "East Side/West Side" in 1963.Tyson appears in an episode of the television show "East Side/West Side" in 1963. Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonTyson appears in an episode of the television show “East Side/West Side” in 1963.Hide Caption 3 of 22Tyson attends the To Be Young, Gifted and Black Gala in New York in 1969. Novelist James Baldwin is next to Tyson. Singer Harry Belafonte is on the right.Tyson attends the To Be Young, Gifted and Black Gala in New York in 1969. Novelist James Baldwin is next to Tyson. Singer Harry Belafonte is on the right. Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonTyson attends the To Be Young, Gifted and Black Gala in New York in 1969. Novelist James Baldwin is next to Tyson. Singer Harry Belafonte is on the right.Hide Caption 4 of 22Tyson is awarded an honorary degree in 1970 from what is now known as Clark Atlanta University.Tyson is awarded an honorary degree in 1970 from what is now known as Clark Atlanta University. Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonTyson is awarded an honorary degree in 1970 from what is now known as Clark Atlanta University.Hide Caption 5 of 22Tyson's role in the 1972 movie "Sounder" won her a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination.Tyson's role in the 1972 movie "Sounder" won her a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination. Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonTyson’s role in the 1972 movie “Sounder” won her a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination.Hide Caption 6 of 22Tyson poses for a portrait circa 1973.Tyson poses for a portrait circa 1973. Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonTyson poses for a portrait circa 1973.Hide Caption 7 of 22Tyson talks on the telephone in a Paris hotel room in 1973.Tyson talks on the telephone in a Paris hotel room in 1973. Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonTyson talks on the telephone in a Paris hotel room in 1973.Hide Caption 8 of 22Tyson won two Emmys for her role in the 1974 miniseries "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman."Tyson won two Emmys for her role in the 1974 miniseries "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman." Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonTyson won two Emmys for her role in the 1974 miniseries “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.”Hide Caption 9 of 22Tyson appears in the miniseries "Roots" in 1977. She portrayed Binta, the mother of Kunta Kinte.Tyson appears in the miniseries "Roots" in 1977. She portrayed Binta, the mother of Kunta Kinte. Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonTyson appears in the miniseries “Roots” in 1977. She portrayed Binta, the mother of Kunta Kinte.Hide Caption 10 of 22Tyson attends a star-studded tribute for her husband, jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, in 1983. The two were married in 1981 and divorced in 1988.Tyson attends a star-studded tribute for her husband, jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, in 1983. The two were married in 1981 and divorced in 1988. Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonTyson attends a star-studded tribute for her husband, jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, in 1983. The two were married in 1981 and divorced in 1988.Hide Caption 11 of 22In 1984, Tyson presented civil-rights icon Rosa Parks with an Eleanor Roosevelt Woman of Courage Award.In 1984, Tyson presented civil-rights icon Rosa Parks with an Eleanor Roosevelt Woman of Courage Award. Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonIn 1984, Tyson presented civil-rights icon Rosa Parks with an Eleanor Roosevelt Woman of Courage Award.Hide Caption 12 of 22Tyson is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1997.Tyson is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1997. Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonTyson is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1997.Hide Caption 13 of 22Oprah Winfrey presents the Distinguished Career Achievement award to Tyson during the 2006 Black Movie Awards.Oprah Winfrey presents the Distinguished Career Achievement award to Tyson during the 2006 Black Movie Awards. Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonOprah Winfrey presents the Distinguished Career Achievement award to Tyson during the 2006 Black Movie Awards.Hide Caption 14 of 22Tyson is seen on the set of "Madea's Family Reunion" with Maya Angelou and director Tyler Perry in 2006.Tyson is seen on the set of "Madea's Family Reunion" with Maya Angelou and director Tyler Perry in 2006. Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonTyson is seen on the set of “Madea’s Family Reunion” with Maya Angelou and director Tyler Perry in 2006.Hide Caption 15 of 22Tyson appears with Lila Rogers in the 2011 movie "The Help."Tyson appears with Lila Rogers in the 2011 movie "The Help." Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonTyson appears with Lila Rogers in the 2011 movie “The Help.”Hide Caption 16 of 22Tyson, third from right, attends an unveiling of a Miles Davis postage stamp in 2012.Tyson, third from right, attends an unveiling of a Miles Davis postage stamp in 2012. Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonTyson, third from right, attends an unveiling of a Miles Davis postage stamp in 2012.Hide Caption 17 of 22Tyson accepts the Tony Award for best performance by a leading actress in a play in 2013. She won for her role in "The Trip to Bountiful."Tyson accepts the Tony Award for best performance by a leading actress in a play in 2013. She won for her role in "The Trip to Bountiful." Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonTyson accepts the Tony Award for best performance by a leading actress in a play in 2013. She won for her role in “The Trip to Bountiful.”Hide Caption 18 of 22Tyson is recognized at the final performance of "The Trip to Bountiful" in 2013.Tyson is recognized at the final performance of "The Trip to Bountiful" in 2013. Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonTyson is recognized at the final performance of “The Trip to Bountiful” in 2013.Hide Caption 19 of 22Tyson appears with Viola Davis in an episode of the TV show "How to Get Away With Murder."Tyson appears with Viola Davis in an episode of the TV show "How to Get Away With Murder." Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonTyson appears with Viola Davis in an episode of the TV show “How to Get Away With Murder.”Hide Caption 20 of 22President Barack Obama presents Tyson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.President Barack Obama presents Tyson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016. Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonPresident Barack Obama presents Tyson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.Hide Caption 21 of 22Tyson speaks at the AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Denzel Washington in 2019.Tyson speaks at the AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Denzel Washington in 2019. Photos: Iconic actress Cicely TysonTyson speaks at the AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Denzel Washington in 2019.Hide Caption 22 of 2201b cicely tyson GALLERY RESTRICTED02 cicely tyson GALLERY RESTRICTED04 cicely tyson GALLERY RESTRICTED03 cicely tyson GALLERY RESTRICTED05 cicely tyson GALLERY RESTRICTED05b Cicely Tyson GALLERY RESTRICTED sounder06 cicely tyson GALLERY RESTRICTED08 cicely tyson GALLERY RESTRICTED09 cicely tyson GALLERY RESTRICTED10a cicely tyson GALLERY RESTRICTED11 cicely tyson GALLERY RESTRICTED12 cicely tyson GALLERY13 cicely tyson GALLERY15 cicely tyson GALLERY RESTRICTED16 cicely tyson GALLERY RESTRICTE16b Cicely Tyson GALLERY restricted Help17 cicely tyson GALLERY RESTRICTED18b Cicely Tyson GALLERY19 cicely tyson GALLERY RESTRICTED19a cicely tyson GALLERY RESTRICTED20 cicely tyson GALLERY 20 cicely tyson GALLERYTyson continued to act well into her 90s, telling Time magazine that she had no plans to retire.”We have to honor this blessed gift that we have. That’s what keeps you going. Keeps your mind fluid — your heart, your whole being,” Tyson, then 94, said. “You can’t just stop, because that will be the end of you.”Tyson was born December 19, 1924, in New York to William and Theodosia Tyson. Early on, she gravitated toward performing, playing piano and reciting in her family’s church when she was a child. She later attended New York University.Tyson said she was “the bane of her mother’s existence” because she couldn’t keep still when she was little. “I was always going, I was always trying to find things, learn things, make things,” she told Harvey. “So I drove her crazy.” As an adult, Tyson began her entertainment career as a model when she was discovered by a fashion editor at Ebony magazine in the 1950s. She had substantial theater parts in the early part of the decade and was on television regularly in guest-starring roles by the mid-1960s.It wasn’t until “Sounder” in 1972 that she had her big breakout movie role. She portrayed the family matriarch in the film about Depression-era sharecroppers and their hunting dog, based on a William H. Armstrong novel.Icon Cicely Tyson returns to the stageIcon Cicely Tyson returns to the stageIcon Cicely Tyson returns to the stageJUST WATCHEDIcon Cicely Tyson returns to the stageReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH

Icon Cicely Tyson returns to the stage 06:02She was nominated for an Academy Award for her work in the film — her only Oscar nomination. It would be another 45 years before she took home the golden statue when she received an honorary Oscar in 2018, the only Black woman to do so.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.Tyson married jazz trumpeter Miles Davis in 1981, but their union ended in divorce in 1988. She reflected on her one and only marriage in a 2013 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.”As her career progressed, generations of entertainers who had grown up admiring Tyson clamored to work with her and gushed about her work.Actress Angela Bassett, who worked with Tyson on the film “The Rosa Parks Story,” proclaimed Tyson as one of her top influences.Tyson’s roles “were my earliest acting teachers, history teachers, life teachers,” Bassett said at a 1997 ceremony honoring Tyson with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.Cicely Tyson: We fought for everythingCicely Tyson: We fought for everythingCicely Tyson: We fought for everythingJUST WATCHEDCicely Tyson: We fought for everythingReplayMore Videos …MUST WATCH

Cicely Tyson: We fought for everything 05:46″Cicely Tyson chose to empower us when we didn’t even know it was possible for us to be empowered. For six decades, she has been diligent in her pursuit to better us all,” screenwriter and director Tyler Perry said when Tyson received the Medal of Freedom.With acting roles in at least 90 movies and TV series dating back to the 1950s, demand for Tyson’s skill and grace never abated as she got older. She got roles in TV series such as “House of Cards” and Perry cast Tyson in several of his films beginning in 2005. Oprah Winfrey, who has cited her as a standout, groundbreaker and inspiration, honored Tyson at her famous Legends Ball, celebrating the actress and ensuring that she, and her work, would be introduced to a new generation of film enthusiasts.She appeared last year on “Cherish the Day,” Ava DuVernay’s series on the Oprah Winfrey Network.Other actors publicly named her as their top role model in the field.”Ms. Tyson has always been my muse,” Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis, who insisted Tyson be cast to play her character’s mother on the television drama “How to Get Away With Murder,” wrote in Vanity Fair magazine. “She is excellence. She is courage.”In 2013, Tyson won a Tony Award for her work in “The Trip to Bountiful.” It was her first nomination. She later starred in a TV movie based on the play.Tyson consciously embraced breaking boundaries. In her acceptance speech at her Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony, she referenced the Langston Hughes poem “Mother to Son” to explain how she’d lived her life and career. “All the time, I’ve been climbing on, reaching landings, turning corners, and sometimes going in the dark where there ain’t been no light.”

Source Link:
https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/28/entertainment/cicely-tyson-obit/index.html

400 Bad Request

Bad Request

Your browser sent a request that this server could not understand.
Size of a request header field exceeds server limit.

Comments

comments

Advertisement