Cicely Louise Tyson was born on December 19, 1924. She was a movie, television, and stage actress noted for her portrayals of powerful African-American women during a career that lasted more than seven decades. Three Emmy Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Tony Award, an Honorary Academy Award, and a Peabody Award were among Tyson’s many honors. We love her and would like to pay tribute to this amazing actress.
Cicely Tyson was born on December 19, 1924, in the Bronx. Her parents were West Indian immigrants who came to New York City initially and then moved to East Harlem. Her mother was Fredericka (Huggins) Tyson and her father was William Augustine Tyson. Growing up in a devout family, Tyson sang in the church choir and went to prayer services at the East Harlem Episcopal Church.
Her first acting role was in the 1956 film “Carib Gold.” She made her theatrical debut at the Harlem Y.M.C.A. in “Dark of the Moon” in 1958. In 1961, she made her television debut in “Frontiers of Faith.” Tyson was a member of the original cast of French playwright Jean Genet’s “The Blacks” in the early 1960s. With 1,408 performances, the production was the longest-running off-Broadway non-musical of the decade. She received the Vernon Rice Award in 1961-1962 for her performance in “Moon on a Rainbow Shawl.” In 1972, Tyson starred in the film “Sounder” for which she was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress and won the N.S.F.C. Best Actress and N.B.R. Best Actress Awards. She starred in the 1974 television film “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.” She earned a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie and an Emmy Award for Actress of the Year for her portrayal of a black woman before the civil rights movement began.
Tyson narrated the award-winning documentary “Up from the Bottoms: The Search for the American Dream.” She won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play in 2013. In 2020, she starred in the Netflix original film “A Fall From Grace.” She released her memoir “Just as I Am” in 2021. She died on January 28, 2021.
Tyson makes her television debut in the N.B.C. series “Frontiers of Faith.”
Tyson wins her first Primetime Emmy for her role in “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.”
Tyson gets her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
She wins a Tony for Best Actress in a Play for her work in “The Trip to Bountiful.”
Quincy Jones honors Tyson with a Governor's Award.
Tyson reveals her astonishing story in “Just As I Am: A Memoir,” which looks back on her life on- and off-screen.
Why We Love Cicely Tyson
She had integrity
Tyson was not the kind of person to work only for money. She was unshakable about playing clichéd representations of black women during her 70-year career.
She was a versatile actress
We know she deserved all the acting awards and nominations. These awards and citations spoke of her versatility as an actress.
She was a good role model
Tyson was a terrific role model for young women of color. She showed us that women, no matter their state, creed, or race, can dream big and accomplish anything they set their sights on.
5 Surprising Facts
A school bears her name
In New Jersey, a school (to which she used to donate) was named after her.
She was a typist
Tyson landed her first job as a typist.
She was kicked out of the house
When the young Tyson accepted a modeling offer, her pious mother was enraged and ejected her from their home, believing that the job was a wicked thing.
She carefully chose her roles
She adamantly refused to appear in “blaxploitation” films or act purely for the money — she was picky about the roles she took.
No wigs please
Tyson was the first black T.V. actress to wear her hair in its natural state.
Cicely Tyson FAQs
How did Cicely Tyson impact others?
Tyson influenced the civil rights movement as a fighter for human rights and a pioneer in the entertainment industry for all women, particularly women of color.
Did Cicely Tyson have a child?
Yes, she gave birth to a daughter named Joan when she was 18.
Where was Cicely Tyson buried?
Tyson was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.
Cicely Tyson’s birthday dates