Arts & Entertainment

Pioneering US actress Cicely Tyson dies at 96

Los Angeles, US, Jan 28 (efe-epa).- American actress Cicely Tyson died Thursday at the age of 96, leaving behind a seven-decade career in film and television and a legacy as a pioneer for her portrayals of strong Black women.

Her manager, Larry Thompson, confirmed the death of the actress, who never stopped working since her first appearance in the cinema in 1959.

“I have managed Miss Tyson’s career for over 40 years, and each year was a privilege and blessing,” said the representative in a statement, which did not specify a cause of death.

Born in Harlem, New York City in 1924, Tyson’s best-known works include films “Sounder” (1973), “Fried Green Tomatoes” (1991) and “The Help” (2011), as well as television series such as “House of Cards” (2016) and “How to Get Away with Murder” (2015-2020).

She won an honorary Oscar, three Primetime Emmy Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Tony Award and a Peabody, among others.

While enjoying a remarkable career on the big screen, Tyson successfully played Jane Pittman in the telefilm “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” (1974) and had a prominent role in the acclaimed series “East Side/West Side” (1963-1964), in which she became the first Black woman to become a TV drama series regular.

Her characters brought her face into households and she became an icon and a pioneer, turning down roles that perpetuated Black stereotypes.

Tyson continued working in television until recently, in “How to Get Away with Murder” in which she played the mother of the main character played by Viola Davis.

“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. You gave me permission to dream,” Davis wrote of Tyson in a moving Instagram post after learning of her passing.

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 of Black people. The roles she played reflected her values; she never compromised. Her life so fully lived is a testimony to Greatness.”

Tyson was married twice, to Kenneth Franklin (1942-1946) and jazz star Miles Davis (1981-1988).

The actress never retired and her last credits are dated 2020. Her death comes days after the release of her book “Just As I Am: A Memoir.”

When she received her honorary Oscar in 2018 she held it up and said: “Mom, I know you didn’t want me to do this, but I did and here is.” EFE-EPA


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