Cicely Tyson, groundbreaking actress, dead at 96

Cicely Tyson, groundbreaking actress, dead at 96

Cicely Tyson, the groundbreaking Emmy and Tony award-winning actress, has died at the age of 96.

The acting icon passed away on Thursday afternoon, her family confirmed via a rep to Fox News.

No cause or location of death was provided.

“With heavy heart, the family of Miss Cicely Tyson announces her peaceful transition this afternoon,” the statement said. “At this time, please allow the family their privacy.”

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Tyson was known for paving the way for Black women in Hollywood, having landed the first recurring role played by a Black actress in a drama series “East Side/West Side,” according to Variety.

Cicely Tyson, screen and stage icon, has died at the age of 96. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

Cicely Tyson, screen and stage icon, has died at the age of 96. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

She earned two Emmy Awards in 1974 for her work in the TV movie “Jane Pittman” and a third in 1994 for her role in the miniseries “Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All.”

She boasted 13 other nominations — five of which for her guest role on “How to Get Away with Murder” — as well as an Oscar nomination for 1972’s “Sounder.”

Tyson was perhaps best known for her small-but-pivotal role in “The Help” as Constantine Jefferson, a maid who raised the film’s protagonist.

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The “Fried Green Tomatoes” actress also had a prolific stage career, appearing first on Broadway in 1959 in the play “Jolly’s Progress.”

She’d appear in a handful of other productions, including the play “The Trip to Bountiful,” which earned her a Tony Award in 2013 at the age of 88.

Cicely Tyson was last seen on screen in a May 2020 episode of 'How to Get Away with Murder,' per IMDb. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Cicely Tyson was last seen on screen in a May 2020 episode of ‘How to Get Away with Murder,’ per IMDb. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

In 2018, she was given an honorary Oscar statuette at the annual Governors Awards. “This is a culmination of all those years of haves and have nots,” Tyson said.

The star published her memoir, “Just As I Am” this week.

She was one of the recipients for the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

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At that ceremony, President Barack Obama said: “Cicely’s convictions and grace have helped for us to see the dignity of every single beautiful memory of the American family.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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