Hollywood Icon Cicely Tyson has passed away at age 96. According to The AP, Tyson's manager Larry Thompson confirmed that the Emmy and Tony Award winning actress died yesterday (January 28th). Tyson just released her memoir Just As I Am on January 26th.
In a statement, Thompson said, “With heavy heart, the family of Miss Cicely Tyson announces her peaceful transition this afternoon. At this time, please allow the family their privacy.” Tyson just released her memoir Just As I Am on January 26th. She told Bustle why she decided to release her memoir at 96, saying, “People wanted to know all about my personal life, and I said, ‘That has nothing to do with my acting.' My personal life allows me to bring some kind of contribution to my career life. You have to have something feeding you. If you do not allow yourself to be fed by life, then you have nothing to give an audience. The characters that you read about come from a human life.”
Tyson made her acting debut in 1957's “Twelve Angry Men” and then starred in the 1959 Sidney Poitier film “Odds Against Tomorrow,” followed by “The Comedians,” “The Last Angry Man,” “A Man Called Adam” and “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.” After refusing to participate in the blaxploitation films in the late 1960s, Tyson returned to the screen in 1972's 'Sounder,” which earned her several Oscar nods, inlcuding Best Actress in 1973. She received an honorary Oscar in 2018.
Tyson also starred in several TV shows, including, “Miss Jane Pittman,” “Roots,” “The Wilma Rudolph Story,” “King: The Martin Luther King Story,” “When No One Would Listen,” “A Woman Called Moses,” “The Marva Collins Story,” “The Women of Brewster Place,” “The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All,” the TV adaptation of “Trip to Bountiful” and most recently “How To Get Away With Murder.”
Throughout her career, Tyson refused to play roles like drug addicts, prostitutes, maids or any roles she thought was demeaning to Black women. Back in 2013, she told The AP, “I’m very selective as I’ve been my whole career about what I do. Unfortunately, I’m not the kind of person who works only for money. It has to have some real substance for me to do it.”
Tyson married Kenneth Franklin from 1942 to 1956 and wed jazz legend Miles Davis from 1981 to 1988. Although there are conflicting reports about whether or not she had children, Tyson mentioned her daughter named “Joan” in her memoir.
Celebrities took to social media to react to Cicely Tyson's death. Oprah wrote, “Cicely decided early on that her work as an actor would be more than a job. She used her career to illuminate the humanity in Black people. The roles she played reflected her values; she never compromised. Her life so fully lived is a testimony to Greatness.”
Zendaya wrote, “This one hurts, today we honor and celebrate the life of one of the greatest to ever do it. Thank you Cicely Tyson. Rest in great power.”
Common wrote, “I’m so sad to hear the news that trailblazing artist and cultural icon Cicely Tyson has passed away today. While she may be gone, her work and life will continue to inspire millions for years to come. God Bless.”
Tyler Perry revealed that he had the urge to watch “Miss Jane Pittman.” 12 minutes before he found out that Tyson had died. He tweeted, “This one brought me to my knees! She was the grandmother I never had and the wisdom tree that I could always sit under to fill my cup. My heart breaks in one beat, while celebrating her life in the next. To think that she lived for 96 years and I got to be a part of the last 16 brings me great joy. She called me son.”
Gabrielle Union: “We have lost a visionary, a leader, a lover, an author, an ICON, and one of the most talented actresses the world has ever seen. A life, a career, a fire to celebrated forevermore! #RIPCicelyTyson 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🖤🖤🖤”
Bootsy Collins: “Dang we lost another Queen of the screen. In a career spanning more than seven decades, she became know for her portrayal of strong African-American women. Job well done.”
Rihanna: “A true legend!! Rest in power Cicely Tyson.”
Cicely Tyson on how she would like to be remembered :