Legendary, celebrated performer Cicely Tyson, who cut her path in an era of Hollywood that was especially hostile for Black actresses, died Thursday, just two days after releasing her memoir, at the age of 96.
“With heavy heart, the family of Miss Cicely Tyson announces her peaceful transition this afternoon,” her manager, Larry Thompson, said in a statement to Yahoo Entertainment. “At this time, please allow the family their privacy.”
Tyson spent more than 60 years as star of stage, TV and film, having played parts early on in TV’s Guiding Light and I Spy. In 1973, she was nominated for the best actress Oscar for her role in Sounder. She was given an honorary award at the 2019 ceremony, for her work in Fried Green Tomatoes, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, The Help and countless other films. On TV, Tyson won accolades for her turns on The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, Roots, The Women of Brewster Place and scores of other shows and made-for-TV movies.
She spent the past six years appearing as a guest star on the ABC drama How to Get Away With Murder, for which she earned five Primetime Emmy nods. She won a Tony Award for her work in the 2013 revival of the stage version of The Trip to Bountiful, when she was 88.
By 2016, Tyson was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor for a civilian. As President Barack Obama presented it, he said, “In her long and extraordinary career, Cicely Tyson has not only succeeded as an actor, she has shaped the course of history.”
Two days before her death, Tyson released her new memoir, the legendary actress details notable moments from both her personal and professional life, including her relationship with jazz legend Miles Davis and her standout roles in ‘Roots,’ ‘Sounder’ and more.