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Two days after her first memoir, “Just As I Am,” was published, 96-year-old Cicely Tyson passed away, as confirmed by Larry Thompson, on Jan. 28, 2021. Among her many firsts, she was the first female Black host on “Saturday Night Live.”
Thompson managed the iconic actress for over 40 years. In his statement, he wrote, “Each year was a privilege and blessing.” Her cause of death was not noted.
Tyson recounted her lengthy career in her memoir. Thompson mentioned she thought of “Just As I Am” as a “Christmas tree decorated with all of the ornaments of her personal and professional life.”
“Today,” referring to her death, “she placed the last ornament, a Star, on top of the tree.”
She refused roles as a drug addict, prostitute, or maid, any character she thought demeaned to Black women.
In 1951, Tyson acted on her first TV series, “Frontiers of Faith,” as Tony on the episode, “The Bitter Cup.” In 2020, she made her final TV appearance was on “How to Get Away with Murder” as Ophelia Harkness — a reoccurring role that began in 2015.
Tyson played a small role in her first film, “Twelve Angry Men,” in 1957. Two years later, she joined Sidney Poitier in “Odds Against Tomorrow” as a bartender.
Overall, the actress has over 100 films and TV credits to her name. Some of Tyson’s memorable roles include:
- In 1973, she was nominated for an Oscar for her part in “Sounder.”
- In the 1974 TV miniseries, “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” she was the title character. The storyline took Tyson from early adulthood through her old age.
- She was in the 1977 film “Roots.
- In 1989, she co-starred on “The Women of Brewster Place.”
Tyson’s career included stage performances, TV and video documentaries, and hosted the Oscars in 2019.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
Variety: Cicely Tyson, Pioneering Hollywood Icon, Dies at 96; by Carmel Dagan
CNN: Cicely Tyson, iconic and influential actress, dies at 96; Anika Mayers Palm, Andy Rose, and Alexandra Meeks
Inset Images Courtesy of ABC|Disney – Used With Permission