Pioneering Hollywood Actress Cicely Tyson Dies At 96

Pioneering Hollywood Actress Cicely Tyson Dies At 96

 

 

 

 

Cicely Tyson, pioneering Hollywood actress known for portraying strong African-American characters is dead, her manager has said.

She died at the age of 96.

However, no cause of the death was given. The former fashion model had a career that spanned seven decades.

Born in New York’s Harlem, she was raised by her devoutly religious parents from the Caribbean island of Nevis.

After being discovered by a fashion editor at Ebony magazine her modelling career took off. By 1957, she was acting in off-Broadway productions and went on to gain small roles in feature films before she was cast as Portia in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter in 1968.

Tyson won two Emmys for her performance in the 1974 civil rights-era film The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.

She also became the first black woman to take on a main role in the TV drama East Side/West Side in the 1960s.

Presenting Tyson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016, the then US President Barack Obama said that apart from her achievements as a actress, she had also shaped the course of history.

Tyson turned down stereotypical roles for black women, agreeing only to play characters that were strong, positive and realistic.

“I have managed Miss Tyson’s career for over 40 years, and each year was a privilege and blessing,” her manager Larry Thompson said in Thursday’s statement announcing her death.

“Cicely thought of her new memoir as a Christmas tree decorated with all the ornaments of her personal and professional life. Today she placed the last ornament, a star, on top of the tree,” the manager said, adding that she died peacefully.

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Tyson’s memoir Just As I Am was published on Tuesday and Vulture wrote about seven highlights from the book , including her accidentally hanging up on Mr Obama’s aide ringing to tell her she had won the prestigious medal.