Pioneering black actress Cicely Tyson has died at age 96.

Her death on Thursday was announced by her family, via her manager Larry Thompson, who did not immediately provide additional details.

“With heavy heart, the family of Miss Cicely Tyson announces her peaceful transition this afternoon. At this time, please allow the family their privacy,” according to a statement issued through Thompson.

A one-time model, Tyson began her screen career with bit parts but gained fame in the early 1970s when black women were finally starting to get starring roles.

Tyson’s memoir, Just As I Am, was published this week.

Earlier this week, she opened up to TV host Gayle King about the highs and lows of her career while promoting hr new book. She appeared to be in good health.


“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,” she told The Associated Press in 2013.

Besides an Oscar nomination for her role as the sharecropper’s wife in Sounder, she won two Emmys for playing the 110-year-old former slave in the 1974 television drama The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.

A new generation of moviegoers saw her in the 2011 hit The Help. In 2018, she was given an honorary Oscar statuette at the annual Governors Awards.

She was one of the recipients for the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the US’s highest civilian honour.

At that ceremony, President Barack Obama said: “Cicely‘s convictions and grace have helped for us to see the dignity of every single beautiful memory of the American family.”


In 2013, at 88, Tyson won the Tony for best leading actress in a play for the revival of Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful. It was the actress’ first time back on Broadway in three decades.

“People ask me what I prefer doing – film, stage, television?’ Tyson once said.

“I would have done ‘Jane Pittman’ in the basement or in a storefront. It’s the role that determines where I go.”

With AAP

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