Hollywood icon Cicely Tyson has died at 96

Hollywood icon Cicely Tyson has died at 96

Cicely Tyson, the Oscar-winner who blazed a trail for Black actors over a 70-year career, has died aged 96.

"I have managed Miss Tyson's career for over 40 years, and each year was a privilege and blessing", Tyson's manager, Larry Thompson, said in a statement.

Besides her Oscar nomination, she won two Emmys for playing the 110-year-old former slave in the 1974 television drama 'The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman'.

Viola Davis who worked with her in How To Get Away With Murder penned a heartwarming note and wrote how she helped her to dream.

Cicely Tyson had a prolific career that spanned from her first film role aged 32 to a year ago, when she completed what transpired to be her final film, A Fall From Grace, aged 95.

Tyson's role as Rebecca Morgan in the 1972 movie Sounder put her up for an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress; she was later given an honorary Academy Award in 2018. She became a household name with her starring role in 1974′s "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman", and would later go on to play Coretta Scott King in the "King" television miniseries and Leona McCauley, the mother of Rosa Parks in "The Rosa Parks Story".

Cicely Tyson was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2016, and in her recently released memoir, Just As I Am, admitted that she thought the phone call she received from one of President Obama's aides about the award was a prank and hung up.

As an adult, Tyson began her entertainment career as a model when she was discovered by a fashion editor at Ebony magazine in the 1950s. "So, aren't you amazed I'm still here?"

Like many, former First Lady Michelle Obama acknowledged that she will miss Tyson's presence, but she will smile "knowing how many people she inspired, just like me, to walk a little taller, speak a little more freely, and live a little bit more like God intended". You made me feel loved and seen and valued in a world where there is still a cloak of invisibility for us dark chocolate girls. "She called me son".

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Tyson's parents moved from the island of Nevis in the Caribbean to NY, where Cicely (her name was spelled early on as Cecily and Sicely) was born in 1924, the youngest of three children.

TV producer Shonda Rhimes said Tyson was an "extraordinary person".

The New York Times reviewer wrote: "She passes all of her easy beauty by to give us, at long last, some sense of the profound beauty of millions of black women".

"My heart breaks in one beat, while celebrating her life in the next". Davis confessed that she is "not ready for you to be my angel yet" but said the legacy Tyson leaves behind makes her "immortal".

Tributes later poured for the pioneering Black star from her colleagues and fans. A year ago she was seen in Perry's Netflix film A Fall from Grace.

It wasn't until "Sounder" in 1972 that she had her big breakout movie role. She eschewed roles that demeaned Black people, insisting instead that they be depicted with respect and dignity, smashing racial stereotypes in the process.

Tyson described that moment as "the most important thing that could happen to me".

"And we're holding on to the last rung", she said.

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