Cicely Tyson was an American actress.
Actress, advocate, and humanitarian, Cicely Tyson was renowned for her portrayals of strong female characters on stage, screen, and television, from her stunning initial stage appearance as Barbara Allen in Dark of the Moon to her triumphant 2013 return to Broadway.
After a 30-year hiatus from the Broadway stage, Ms. Tyson returned as Mother Carrie Watts in Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful in 2013, for which she received rave reviews and the triple crown of theater awards: the Tony®, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle awards for Best Actress in a Play. Ms. Tyson returned to the Broadway stage in September 2015 in The Gin Game co-starring James Earl Jones.
Best known for her double Emmy® performance (Best Lead Actress in a Drama as well as a Special, unprecedented Emmy Award® for Actress of the Year) as Jane in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Ms. Tyson also was recently nominated in 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019 for an Emmy for her recurring guest role as Ophelia, Annalise's mother (Viola Davis) in ABC's How To Get Away With Murder. She received her third Emmy Award® for The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All and was nominated for her performances in Roots, King, Sweet Justice, The Marva Collins Story, and A Lesson Before Dying.
Ms. Tyson was nominated for an Academy Award® for Sounder. Her film credits include The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Fried Green Tomatoes, Because of Winn-Dixie, Hoodlum, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea’s Family Reunion, Why Did I Get Married Too?, The Help, Alex Cross, Last Flag Flying, and most recently in 2018, A Fall From Grace directed by Tyler Perry. On November 18, 2018, Ms. Tyson received an Honorary Oscar at the Motion Picture Academy's Governors Awards.
In March 2014, Ms. Tyson served as the executive producer of the film version of The Trip to Bountiful, presented on Lifetime television network. In 1977, as a student of the American Film Institute, Ms. Tyson directed the one-act play, Save Me a Place at Forest Lawn.
In recognition of her talent, dedication, and contributions, Ms. Tyson has been the recipient of countless awards including numerous Honorary Doctorates, most recently by Columbia University in 2014 as well as an unprecedented number of NAACP Image Awards. Other notable honors have been bestowed on her by the Princess Grace Foundation, National Urban League, National Council of Negro Women, National Civil Rights Museum, and organizations: PUSH, CORE, SCLC, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center.
Ms. Tyson is among the elite number of entertainers honored with a star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame. Ms. Tyson was recognized for her contribution to the performing arts at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors. She is the recipient of the NAACP’s highest honor, the prestigious Spingarn Award. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016, the highest civilian award of the United States.
Beginning in 1996, Ms. Tyson served as the guiding force of the Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts. This $143 million institution of academic and creative expression in East Orange, New Jersey serves 1,200 students from kindergarten through 12th grade. This cultural icon continues to develop her art as she takes on new roles and opportunities in her efforts to enlighten the human race.
Cicely Tyson was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 2020.
Tyson died January 28, 2021. She was 96.