Legendary actress Cicely Tyson has passed away at the age of 96.
According to multiple reports, Tyson died on Thursday afternoon (Jan. 28). “With heavy heart, the family of Miss Cicely Tyson announces her peaceful transition this afternoon. At this time, please allow the family their privacy,” Larry Thompson, the actress’ manager, said in a statement.
“I have managed Miss Tyson’s career for over 40 years and each year was a privilege and blessing,” he added. “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.”
In 1957, Tyson made her film debut in Twelve Angry Men and made her official debut in Sidney Poitier’s 1959 film, Odds Against Tomorrow. She also had roles in The Last Angry Man, The Comedians, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and A Man Called Adam.
As blaxploitation films began to gain popularity in the late ‘60s, Tyson took a break from acting after refusing to participate in those types of movies. In 1972, she returned to the big screen with Sounder, which earned her an Oscar nod for Best Actress.
Aside from film, the legendary thespian also made her mark in television. She had roles in “The Wilma Rudolph Story,” “Miss Jane Pittman,” “Roots,” “A Woman Called Moses,” “King: The Martin Luther King Story,” “When No One Would Listen” and many more.
Tyson refused to take on roles that demeaned Black women, including portraying characters who were on drugs or sex workers. “We Black actresses have played so many prostitutes and drug addicts and house maids, always negative,” she previously told the Associated Press. “I won’t play that kind of characterless role any more, even if I have to go back to starving.”
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Cicely Tyson’s family and friends. Rest in peace queen.