Cicely Tyson, iconic US Black actress, dies aged 96

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Cicely Tyson, iconic US Black actress, dies aged 96
Cicely Tyson, iconic US Black actress, dies aged 96

Oscar-nominated actress Cicely Tyson has died aged 96, her family has confirmed, with tributes flooding in from greats of the showbiz world.

Everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Barack Obama has honoured Tyson’s legacy on the screen, looking back at a groundbreaking career that spanned 70 years.

Tyson’s death was announced by her family on Thursday night, in a statement that read: “With heavy heart, the family of Miss Cicely Tyson announces her peaceful transition this afternoon. At this time, please allow the family their privacy.”

The pioneering actress’ cause of death has yet to be confirmed.

Her tragic death comes just days after she gave an emotional interview to CBS This Morning host Gayle King, discussing her status as a “legend” in Hollywood.

During the televised interview, Tyson said: “I’m amazed every single day I live.”

The New Yorker also reflected on her career, admitting she was surprised by the success she’d enjoyed as an acclaimed star of film, television and Broadway productions.

When asked whether she has plans to do “more” in the future, she told King: “Yes! That’s why I’m still here.

“What my life became is not what I expected. I had no idea that I would touch anybody.”

Over the course of her glittering career, Tyson received three Emmys, one Tony Award and was nominated for an Oscar on several occasions.

Working as a fashion model in the early 50s, Tyson started to venture into the world of acting, landing roles in Jean Genet’s The Blacks and appearing alongside Sammy Davis Jr in A Man Called Adam.

However, it wasn’t until the critically acclaimed 1972 release of Sounder, in which she played Rebecca Morgan, that Tyson’s star profile truly skyrocketed.

Her memoir, Just As I Am, which recounts her life and legacy, was published just days before her devastating death.

Tyson’s manager, Larry Thompson, also paid tribute to her memory, branding the experience of working with her over the past four decades as a “privilege”.

He said: “I have managed Miss Tyson’s career for over 40 years, and each year was 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.”

Former President Obama also sent his condolences to the Tyson family, remembering the mark she left on the world with her charisma and talent as an actress.

He said: “In her extraordinary career, Cicely Tyson was one of the rare award-winning actors whose work on the screen was surpassed only by what she was able to accomplish off of it.

“She had a heart unlike any other—and for 96 years, she left a mark on the world that few will ever match.”

Tyson is survived by her daughter, whom she calls “Joan” in her memoir.

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