Legendary actress Cicely Tyson died on Thursday at the age of 96. Tyson’s family said via her manager, Larry Thompson, “With heavy heart, the family of Miss Cicely Tyson announces her peaceful transition this afternoon. At this time, please allow the family their privacy. A formal statement and details will follow.”
Tyson was an icon of television, film and Broadway, having won Emmy, Tony and Screen Actors Guild awards. Tyson was the first African-American actress to win an Emmy Award, and is perhaps best known in the role of Kunta Kinte’s mother, Binta, in Roots — the 1977 miniseries based on Alex Haley’s novel.
Tyson gained critical acclaim for playing Rebecca Morgan in 1972’s Sounder, earning Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress. She took home two Emmy Awards for her portrayal of a young slave in the 1974 television movie, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. More recently, Tyson played Constantine Bates in 2011’s The Help, and had a recurring role as Viola Davis’ TV mom, Ophelia Harkness, on How to Get Away With Murder (twice earning Emmy nominations for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.’) She also won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play in 2013 following her performance in The Trip to Bountiful.
Tyson married jazz musician Miles Davis in 1981, having previously appeared on the cover of Davis’ 1967 record, Sorcerer. Their marriage ended in 1988, and she had no children.
Tyson’s memoir, “Just As I Am,” was published just this week.
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