Cicely Tyson, a legendary actress who graced both stage and screen, was known for her exceptional talent, dedication, and remarkable contributions to the world of entertainment. Her passing on January 28, 2021, at the age of 96, marked the end of an era in Hollywood.
In this article, we will celebrate the life and legacy of Cicely Tyson, highlighting her remarkable career and the circumstances surrounding her passing.
Who Was Cicely Tyson?
Cicely Tyson was born on December 19, 1924, in Harlem, New York City. Growing up in a modest household, she developed a deep appreciation for the arts at an early age. She attended the famed Actors Studio in New York, which set the stage for her extraordinary acting career.
She was discovered by a photographer for Ebony magazine at a hair show. Tyson began her career as a model, but her true passion lay in acting. She made her Broadway debut in 1959 in the production of “The Blacks” and later gained recognition for her role in the television series “East Side/West Side” in the 1960s.
Her groundbreaking role in the 1972 film “Sounder” earned her an Academy Award nomination and established her as a significant figure in the industry.
During the 1963–64 television season, Tyson was the first black woman to appear on a regular basis in a series, the TV drama East Side/West Side, starring George C. Scott as a social worker.
Tyson was a novelist in addition to being a multi-award-winning actress.
How Did Cicely Tyson Die?
Tyson died quietly on Thursday, January 28, according to Larry Thompson, her long-time manager. There was no mention of a cause of death.
Her passing sparked a flood of condolences from Hollywood and beyond.
In 2016, Barack Obama awarded civil rights icon Tyson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, and commended her on- and off-screen accomplishments.
He said that Cicely Tyson was one of the few award-winning actors whose achievements off the screen far outweighed those on the screen in her extraordinary career.
“She had a heart unlike any other for 96 years; she left a mark on the world that few will ever match.” “She used her career to highlight black people's humanity.” Her responsibilities reflected her principles, and she never compromised.
“Her life so fully lived is a testimony to greatness.” Oscar-winner Viola Davis, who co-starred in The Help alongside Tyson, said she was “devastated” by his death.
“My heart is just broken,” she said with a photo of herself cuddling Tyson.
“I really adored you!! To me, you were everything!”
How Did Cicely Tyson Rise to Fame?
At a time when such roles were scarce, Cicely Tyson's willingness to portray strong, complex, and frequently trailblazing black women defined her career.
Her iconic performances in movies such as “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” for which she won two Emmy Awards, and “Roots” solidified her reputation as one of the greatest actresses of her generation.
She also received critical acclaim for her work in “The Trip to Bountiful” and “How to Get Away with Murder.”
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Tyson's commitment to challenging stereotypes and advocating for better representation of black individuals in the entertainment industry left a lasting impact.
She received numerous accolades throughout her career, including an Honorary Academy Award, three Primetime Emmy Awards, and a Tony Award.