Hollywood icon and award-winning actress, Cicely Tyson who distinguished herself in theater, film, and television, has died at the age of 96.
According to a statement from her manager, Larry Thompson, she died on Thursday afternoon, January 28.
The statement did not reveal the cause of death.
The actress chronicled her lengthy career in her first memoir, “Just As I Am,” which was just released on Tuesday, two days before her death.
Tyson made her film debut with a small role in 1957’s “Twelve Angry Men” and her formal debut in the 1959 Sidney Poitier film “Odds Against Tomorrow,” followed by “The Comedians,” “The Last Angry Man,” “A Man Called Adam” and “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.”
In 1974, she starred in “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” a television movie based on a novel by Ernest Gaines. Tyson was the title character, a woman born into slavery who lives well into the 20th century and takes part in African Americans’ struggles for civil rights.
She won two Emmys for the role, best actress in a drama and actress of the year. During her career, she would win a total of three Emmy Awards out of 15 nominations.
Throughout her career Tyson refused to play drug addicts, prostitutes or maids, roles she thought demeaning to Black women. She played former slaves, civil rights icons, sharecroppers, truthtellers, mothers, bringing a sense of depth, nobility, and grace to every character.
Her filmography includes some of the most celebrated movies and television shows featuring Black women in major roles: “Sounder” (1972), “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” (1974), “Roots” (1977), “The Marva Collins Story” (1981), “The Women of Brewster Place” (1989), and “The Help” (2011).