(Los Angeles) Black actress Cicely Tyson, icon for two generations of African American actresses and Broadway figure, died Thursday at the age of 96, her manager announced.
Cicely Tyson, whose career spanned more than 70 years, is especially known to the general public for her Oscar nomination for Sounder in 1973. She had also appeared in the movies Fried Green Tomatoes
and The Help, and more recently in the television series Murder, where she played the mother of the main heroine.
Very committed to the fight against racism and for social justice, the actress has often refused roles that she believes perpetuated racial clichés, such as servants or prostitutes.
“It is with a heavy heart that the family of Miss Cicely Tyson announces her peaceful departure this afternoon,” said her manager, Larry Thompson, in a statement to AFP, without specifying the causes of death.
The actress has won several Emmy Awards, equivalent to the Oscars for American television, as well as a Tony Award for theatrical performances.
In 2018, the star received an honorary Oscar for her entire career and the symbol she represents for black artists.
She is “a queen for all of us African-Americans,” actor and director Tyler Perry said. “She had to work ten times harder, to be paid a hundred times less” because she was a black woman, he said.
For the composer Quincy Jones, who paid him an emotional tribute, Cicely Tyson quite simply “paved the way” for several generations of actresses such as Angela Bassett, Whoopi Goldberg, Halle Berry, Viola Davis or Lupita Nyong’o (Oscar for 12 years A Slave).
Cicely Tyson was born in New York, in the Harlem neighborhood, to immigrant parents from the Caribbean. She had started her career as a model before moving on to acting.
The actress, who had celebrated her 96e birthday last month, had just published his memoir this week.