Hollywood actress Cicely Tyson – known for portraying strong African-American characters – has died aged 96, her manager coinfirmed.
There was no cause of the death given. A former fashion model she had a career for seven decades. She won two Emmys for the 1974 civil rights-era film The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.
She also became the first black woman wear her natural hair on TV and to take on a main role in the TV drama East Side/West Side in the 1960s. US broadcaster and actress Oprah Winfrey said: “She used her career to illuminate the humanity of Black people. The roles she played reflected her values; she never compromised.”
Tyson was presented with a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016, by US President Barack Obama on his Twitter page yesterday he said: “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”.
Tyson was known for turning down the stereotypical roles that Hollywood threw at black women, insisting on playing roles that were strong and a realistic reflection of Black women.
“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,” said manager Larry Thompson on Thursday’s statement announcing her death.
Cicely Tyson her words.
“Just As I Am is my truth. It is me, plain and unvarnished, with the glitter and garland set aside. In these pages, I am indeed Cicely, the actress who has been blessed to grace the stage and screen for six decades. Yet I am also the church girl who once rarely spoke a word. I am the teenager who sought solace in the verses of the old hymn for which this book is named. I am a daughter and mother, a sister, and a friend. I am an observer of human nature and the dreamer of audacious dreams. I am a woman who has hurt as immeasurably as I have loved, a child of God divinely guided by His hand. And here in my ninth decade, I am a woman who, at long last, has something meaningful to say.” –Cicely Tyson
Tyson’s memoir Just As I Am was published on this Tuesday.