Cicely Tyson has died. According to her manager, Larry Thompson, the 96-year-old made a peaceful transition yesterday afternoon. “At this time, please allow the family their privacy,” he said in a statement. No additional details were provided.
To say that Cicely was just an award-winning actress is a gross understatement. A “New York Times” reviewer said of the one-time model, “She passes all of her easy beauty by to give us, at long last, some sense of the profound beauty of millions of Black women.” She was a groundbreaking pioneer who chose to show Black women on stage and screen as strong. In fact, she refused to take any role she felt was demeaning or degrading.
Ms. Tyson also made history. She was the first Black person to have a continuing role in a network TV series when she worked on the CBS drama, “East Side/West Side.” In addition, she was the first Black to win a lead actress Emmy Award when she played a woman who aged from 23 to 110 – from the 1850s to the civil rights era – in 1974’s “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.” In 2013, she became the oldest person to win a Best Actress Tony Award for her performance in “The Trip to Bountiful” at the 88.
Cicely’s career enjoyed a resurgence in her later years. Tyler Perry gave her roles in several of his productions and she played the mother of Viola Davis’ character in “How to Get Away with Murder.” She was asked in 2018 if she’d retire. “And do what? The reason why I have been in this universe as long as I have been that He’s not ready for me,” she noted. “When I’ve completed my job, he’ll take me away.”
Cicely was married once, to the late Miles Davis, from 1981 to 1989. She leaves behind a book, Just as I Am: A Memoir, that was published this week, and tributes from around the world.
Source: The Wrap