Cicely Tyson, who refused to take parts that demeaned Black people dies at 96
Cicely Tyson, the stage, screen, and television actress whose vivid portrayals of strong African-American women shattered racial stereotypes in the dramatic arts of the 1970s, propelling her to stardom and fame as an exemplar for civil rights, died on Thursday. She was 96.
Her death was announced by her longtime manager, Larry Thompson, who provided no other details.
In a remarkable career of seven decades, Ms. Tyson broke ground for serious Black actors by refusing to take parts that demeaned Black people. She urged Black colleagues to do the same and often went without work. She was critical of films and television programs that cast Black characters as criminal, servile or immoral, and insisted that African-Americans, even if poor or downtrodden, should be portrayed with dignity.
Her chiseled face and willowy frame, striking even in her 90s, became familiar to millions in more than 100 films, television, and stage roles, including some that had traditionally been given only to white actors. She won three Emmys and many awards from civil rights and women’s groups, and at 88 became the oldest person to win a Tony, for her 2013 Broadway role in a revival of Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful.”
At 93, she won an honorary Oscar and was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2018 and into the Television Hall of Fame in 2020. She also won a career achievement Peabody Award in 2020.