Pioneering US actress Cicely Tyson dies aged 96

Cicely Tyson accepts her Honorary Academy Award. Photo: November 2018
In 2018, Cicely Tyson became the first African American woman to receive an honorary Oscar

Pioneering Hollywood actress Cicely Tyson, who was known for portraying strong African-American characters has died aged 96, her manager has said.

No cause of the death was given, the former fashion model had a career that spanned seven decades. Tyson won two Emmys for her performance in the 1974 civil rights-era film The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. She also became the first black woman to take on a main role in the TV drama East Side/West Side in the 1960s. Cicely Tyson turned down stereotypical roles for black women, agreeing only to play characters that were strong, positive and realistic. “I have managed Miss Tyson’s career for over 40 years, and each year was a privilege and blessing,” her manager Larry Thompson said in Thursday’s statement announcing her death.

“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,” the manager added. Tyson’s memoir Just As I Am was published on Tuesday. Paying tribute to Cicely Tyson, US broadcaster and actress Oprah Winfrey said: “She used her career to illuminate the humanity of Black people. The roles she played reflected her values; she never compromised.”

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