She obtained an Oscar nomination for "Sounder," mesmerized TV audience in "The Autobiography of miss Jane Pittman" and won a Tony because that "The pilgrimage to Bountiful."



Cicely Tyson, the admired Oscar-nominated actress who made television history while forging a sterling career out of illustrating women of strength and substance, passed away Thursday. She was 96.

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Her death was announced by she longtime manager, Larry Thompson.

Tyson died two days after her memoir Just as I Am to be published. She gave her critical interviews about the book, including a sit-down with Gayle King,this week.

Saluted with an honorary Academy Award at the Governors Awards in November 2018, Tyson became the first African American to victory a lead actress Emmy Award once she was well-known for her astonishing performance together a mrs who eras from 23 come 110 — indigenous the 1850s to the civil-rights era — in the 1974 CBS telefilm The Autobiography of miss out on Jane Pittman.


A te earlier, her work opposite George C. Scott on the gritty CBS drama East Side/West Side make her perhaps the an initial African American actress to have a continuing role on a network series.

Tyson additionally won a sustaining actress Emmy for illustrating the household confidant Castralia in the acclaimed 1994 CBS miniseries The Oldest living Confederate Widow speak All, and also her career observed her bring difference to the heritage of number of real-life American heroines: Coretta Scott King in the 1978 miniseries King, education Marva Collins in the 1981 telefilm The Marva Collins Story and also Harriet Tubman in the 1978 series A Woman called Moses.

“I witnessed that I could not afford the luxury of simply being an actress. So ns made the choice to use my career as a platform to attend to the worries of the gyeongju I was born into,” Tyson called The brand-new York Times in 2013.

“When I read a script: either my skin tingles or mine stomach churns. As soon as it tingles, i take it, and when my stomach churns, there’s no method I could possibly perform it. No way.”

She played Kunta Kinte’s mom in the landmark 1977 abc miniseries Roots and Rosa Parks’ mom in a 2002 CBS telefilm.


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Tyson achieved a long sought-after career score in 2013 once she starred together the wistful Mrs. Carrie watt in a rebirth of Horton Foote’s The expedition to Bountiful, winning a ideal actress Tony in the process. She then garnered 2 Emmy nominations — for starring in and executive creating a life time adaptation a year later.

Tyson got her best actress Oscar nom for playing the sharecropper Rebecca Morgan in the young name Ritt drama Sounder (1972). She shed out come Liza Minnelli the Cabaret but finally gained a long overdue statuette in ~ the Governors Awards.


“I don’t recognize that I would cherish a much better gift than this,” she claimed in her accept speech. “This is the culmination of every those years of have and have-not.”

In the 2000s, she appeared in a cable of Tyler Perry films, consisting of Diary the a Mad black color Woman (2005), Madea’s family members Reunion (2006) and also Why did I obtain Married Too? (2010). Her most recent teamwork with the director was 2020’s A loss From Grace.

In various other recent films, she played a lover maid in The aid (2011), Viola Davis’ mommy on ABC’s How to get Away v Murder — because that which she got five an ext Emmy noms — and a Texas congresswoman on Netflix’s House that Cards, and also she had a function in the 2017 movie Last Flag Flying.

“In she long and extraordinary career, Cicely Tyson has actually not only exceeded together an actor, she has actually shaped the food of history,” president Obama said once he awarded her the Presidential Medal the Freedom, the nation’s greatest civilian honor, in 2016.

“Cicely was never ever the likeliest the Hollywood stars,” that said. “But as soon as she got her education and broke right into the business, Cicely made a aware decision not just to say lines, yet to speak out. ‘I would certainly not accept roles,’ she said, ‘unless castle projected us, an especially women, in a reality light and dealt with us as human beings.’ … Cicely’s convictions and grace have helped for us to watch the dignity that every solitary beautiful member the the American family.”


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In June 2020, she got a career achievement honor from the Peabody Awards.

Tyson to be married come jazz legend miles Davis from 1981 till their divorce in 1988. The wedding took place in the residence of bill Cosby, who was the best man and gave away the bride.

Cicely Louise Tyson was born Dec. 18, 1924, in brand-new York City come West Indian immigrant parents. She show-business career began inadvertently once she to be asked to design at a hairstyle show and was spotted by one Ebonyfashion editor. She quickly came to be a peak model.

Her an initial stage appearance come in a Harlem YMCA production of Dark the the Moon, and she started acting off-Broadway in 1957. Two years later, she had uncredited duties in the harry Belafonte movie Odds versus Tomorrow and in The last Angry male (1959), certification Paul Muni.

Her performance in a 1961 manufacturing of Jean Genet’s The Blacks: A Clown Show got the fist of Scott, who said that she beat his secretary, jane Foster, ~ above the 1963-64 series East Side/West Side.

Tyson said her course to stardom at very first was met with resistance by her spiritual family. Once she an initial informed she parents around her dream of acting, her mom said, “You cannot live here and do that,” Tyson called the Times. “I didn’t say anything come her, yet I made up my mind the acting was something I had actually to execute for myself, so ns found an additional place come live. My mother did no speak come me for two years. Refuse to check out me, refuse to speak to me.

“And once I go my an initial play, one amateur production of Dark of the Moon at the Y in Harlem, I had actually the audacity to speak to my mother and invite she to come. And also she did. And the minute I walked onstage, she believed she to be whispering, but she said, ‘Oh, mine God!’ and also I heard she clear as day. And when that was every over, my mother was standing at the exit, agree congratulations. Have the right to you imagine?”


She gained included exposure in the 1960s on tv in Brown Girl, Brownstones, a CBS Workshop presentation; in films like A Man referred to as Adam (1966), The love Is a Lonely Hunter (1968) and The Comedians (1967); and on Broadway in Tiger, Tiger burning Bright and also Carry Me back to Morningside Heights.

Tyson’s penchant because that playing coherent roles expected that her personalities often were not glamorous. This sometimes led to negative audience reactions. In a 2007 interview top top Good Morning America, she provided that she received “bags and bags the mail” from Black females who claimed she to be squandering she “chance to elevate the black color woman” by wearing her hair in a short natural format on East Side/West Side.

“We were led to believe that everything about us was unattractive, specifically our hair,” she said. “So us felt that we would certainly not be as accepted or acceptable uneven we did things that the other races did, prefer straighten ours hair and also lighten our skin, that sort of thing.”

After Tyson and Davis divorced, the pair spoke of your relationship just infrequently. Some 25 years later, she explained her marital relationship as “tumultuous” during a CNN interview.

“You have two human being who room so, well, I might say enriched, I might say blessed by tremendous talents. I believed he was; he thought I was. And what the takes come live from day to day through that,” she said. “There space so countless facets come a dual life that are completely alien to many people. Completely alien. There have been several of the many incredible moment in my life afforded me through him.

“Every minute to me in life is a learning experience. Ns perceive those moments that most world think of as negative, as positive. They mean more to me than what world perceive to be positive, because once I have actually experienced that and lived v it and reached an additional level of expertise of human beings … then i am the far better for the experience.”


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Her road to Bountiful took 26 years to complete, she told The Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg.

“In 1985, i was wandering approximately Hollywood and also saw Geraldine ’s name on the marquee. Ns absolutely adored her, yet I had no idea what The trip to Bountiful was about — i hadn’t ever before read it, ns hadn’t watched it ~ above television, I just was not familiar with the — so i just went into the theatre to check out her. And also I walked out, got in my car, drove appropriate to my agent’s office and also said come him, ‘You obtain me my Trip come Bountiful and I will retire!’

“In 2011, I’m sit in my house; the phone call rings; it’s mine assistant, and also she says, ‘Van is searching for you.’ valve Ramsey is a costume designer whom i have functioned with a number of times. The was looking for me since he had actually a friend that wanted to satisfy with me and talk about a feasible project, and also we met.

“She stated to me, ‘My father had actually such significant respect because that you. I want to do among his plays. I’d love to perform it with a black color cast. And also if you say no come the lead, i m sorry is what I desire you come play, ns won’t execute it.’ so I said to her, ‘Who was her father?’ She said, ‘Horton Foote,’ and I dropped off the chair. As soon as I could recover, ns said, ‘And the play is what?’ She said, ‘The trip to Bountiful.’ Is that something? It was 26 year later!”


Tyson was active in plenty of community and charitable activities. She to be a co-founder and vp the the run Theatre of Harlem and from 1973-78 a board member the the American movie Institute. The Cicely L. Tyson community School that Performing and also Fine art in east Orange, new Jersey, is called in she honor.

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On Feb. 3, her household announced Tyson will certainly be lie in repose in an official public viewing native 10 a.m.-6 p.m. On Monday, Feb. 15 at Abyssinian Baptist Church in ~ 132 Odell Clark location (formerly 138th Street) in between Lenox Avenue and also Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, new York, NY 10030.

Tyson called GMA that she never ever regretted taking threats in her life and also career and also that she motto was, “Jump turn off the mountain and make her wings together you’re falling.”

“I had actually no foresight the what the finish would be; I just follow my instincts,” she said. “I refer to it as magnificent guidance. I involved realize if and when ns didn’t, I constantly got myself in trouble, always. Life is around taking chances. Life is around finding your own path.”