Cicely Tyson, a pioneering actress known for her decades-long career across film, television and the stage, has died. She was 96 years old.
Her longtime manager Larry Thompson shared the news via a statement to Variety earlier today (January 29), saying each of the 40+ years they worked together was a “a privilege and blessing”.
“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.”
Tyson released her first memoir ‘Just As I Am: A Memoir’ earlier this week.
Following a few film roles in the late 1950s, including a minor role in 12 Angry Men, Tyson captured the attention of the Academy in the early 70s with her groundbreaking performance as Rebecca Morgan in Sounder. It earned her the only competitive Oscar nomination she ever received, for ‘Best Actress’. However, she was awarded an Honorary Oscar in 2018, becoming the first African-American woman to achieve such an honour.
Outside of film, Tyson also made huge achievements across both television and theatre. She received two Emmy awards in 1974 for her performance in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and a third in 1994 for Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All. In 2013, she won a Tony award for her performance as Carrie Watts in The Trip To Bountiful.
Many of Hollywood’s biggest stars have paid tribute to Tyson today, recognising her as an iconic trailblazer.
Viola Davis shared a photo of the two together, saying, “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”.
I'm devastated. My heart is just broken. I loved you so much!! You were everything to me! 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… https://t.co/7V7AFZtFLa pic.twitter.com/l2TLfM4weX
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) January 29, 2021
Zendaya said Tyson “one of the greatest to ever do it” and thanked her for all she’s done.
This one hurts, today we honor and celebrate the life of one of the greatest to ever do it. Thank you Cicely Tyson. Rest in great power. pic.twitter.com/vwchWT5512
— Zendaya (@Zendaya) January 29, 2021
Rihanna posted a tribute of her own, dubbing Tyson as a “true legend”.
A true legend!! Rest in power Cicely Tyson 🙏🏿❤️ pic.twitter.com/YvzBEjPNUO
— Rihanna (@rihanna) January 29, 2021
— BEYONCÉ LEGION (@BeyLegion) January 29, 2021
Read more tributes below. Rest In Peace, Cicely Tyson.
Cicely Tyson, one of the greats, has passed. May angels sing her to her rest.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 29, 2021
Rest in power, Cicely Tyson. Thank you for your life, your love, your light 🙏🏿
— Amanda Gorman (@TheAmandaGorman) January 29, 2021
Cicely Tyson has passed. She led a pioneering career in film, a remarkable feat for an African American woman born 96 years ago. An Emmy and Tony award winning actress, her career on screen and on stage stretched an incredible seven decades. We will miss you dearly, Cicely. RIP.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) January 29, 2021
America has had a lot of great actresses, but none greater than Cicely Tyson. Rest in Power ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Fm73m2LVSm
— Cynthia Nixon (@CynthiaNixon) January 29, 2021
We have lost a visionary, a leader, a lover, an author, an ICON, and one of the most talented actresses the world has ever seen. A life, a career, a fire to celebrated forevermore! #RIPCicelyTyson 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🖤🖤🖤 pic.twitter.com/Oh57mlbGoZ
— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) January 29, 2021
This one cuts deep. @IAmCicelyTyson was my first screen Mom.. Elegance, warmth, beauty, wisdom, style and abundant grace. She was as regal as they come. An artist of the highest order, I will love her forever… ♥️ RIP pic.twitter.com/69Awj7qI8o
— LeVar Burton (@levarburton) January 29, 2021
Cicely Tyson 🙏🏾🕊 pic.twitter.com/5TO7LL2mlx
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) January 29, 2021
The world lost a trailblazer today. #CicelyTyson paved the way for so many artists after her and beautifully portrayed iconic roles such as Harriett Tubman and my mother, Coretta Scott King. Rest in peace, Cicely. You will be missed. pic.twitter.com/TMsHzWhpFL
— Martin Luther King III (@OfficialMLK3) January 29, 2021
Though we are not related, her mother was friends with my grandmother in the West Indies, with strongly resonant struggles and triumphs.
Farewell to a force of nature unto herself — in person, on stage, and on the screen. Cicely Tyson, RIP (1924-2021) pic.twitter.com/w1s7KhnTuI
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) January 29, 2021