Beloved character actress Cicely Tyson has passed away at aged 96. Her cause of death is unknown.
Tyson’s longtime manager, Larry Thompson, confirmed the sad news in a statement on Thursday, Jan. 28 – two days after the release of her memoir, Just As I Am.
The statement read: “I have managed Miss Tyson’s career for over 40 years, and each year was a privilege and blessing. 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 multi-Emmy winner’s credits included the films The Help, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and Sounder, in which she portrayed the matriarch of a Depression-era sharecropper family.
She also starred in TV drama How to Get Away with Murder, playing the mother of Viola Davis‘ character, Annalise Harkness. She portrayed abolitionist and slave escape leader Harriet Tubman in the 1978 TV series A Woman Called Moses, and she tackled the role of Martin Luther King, Jr‘s wife, Coretta Scott King, in TV mini-series King.
Tyson also showed off her comedy skills in Tyler Perry‘s films Diary of a Mad Black Woman and Madea’s Family Reunion.
Born in Harlem, New York City in 1924, Tyson began her career as a model and landed her first acting role on the U.S. TV series Frontiers of Faithin 1951. She landed her first movie credit as Dottie in 1957’s Carib Gold.
She was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and she received an Honorary Oscar in 2018.