Cicely Tyson, the pioneering Black actor who gained an Oscar nomination for her role as the sharecropper’s wife in “Sounder,” a Tony Award in 2013 at age 88 and touched TV viewers’ hearts in “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” died Thursday at age 96.
Tyson’s death was announced by her family, via her manager Larry Thompson, who did not immediately provide additional details.
“With heavy heart, the family of Miss Cicely Tyson announces her peaceful transition this afternoon. At this time, please allow the family their privacy,” according to a statement issued through Thompson.
A one time model, she began her screen career with bit parts but gained fame in the early 1970s when Black women were finally starting to get starring roles. Tyson refused to take parts simply for the paycheck, remaining choosey.
“I’m very selective as I’ve been my whole career about what I do. Unfortunately, I’m not the kind of person who works only for money. It has to have some real substance for me to do it,” she told The Associated Press in 2013.
Tributes from Broadway and Hollywood poured in, including from Tracie Thomas who thanked her for paving the way. “A queen and a trailblazer indeed,” she wrote on Twitter. Marlee Matlin wrote: “She was a consumate pro and all class.”