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Cicely Tyson

Cicely Tyson

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: December 19, 1933 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: actress, model, typist, vendor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Throughout her five-plus decade career on stage and screen, Cicely Tyson was known for her dedication to truthfully exploring the broad spectrum of the African-American experience. Tyson was at the forefront of a shift away from one-dimensional, negative screen stereotypes of black women with her starring role in "Sounder" (1972), which was groundbreaking in its portrayal of the dignity, strength and courage of a Depression-era African-American family. The acclaimed film and Tyson's Oscar-nominated leading role opened the doors for a whole new era of black storytelling, and Tyson came to represent this strong and wise image of African-American women with revered performances in "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" (CBS, 1973) and "Roots" (ABC, 1977). Television movies offered the most opportunities for this actress with a mission, and she went on to recreate renowned moments and figures in African-American heritage in "King" (1978), "A Woman Called Moses" (1978), and "Heat Wave" (1990), among others. Whether playing an educated professional, the backbone of a challenged family, or a woman moved by an extraordinary sense of purpose, Tyson continually raised the standards of African-American...

Throughout her five-plus decade career on stage and screen, Cicely Tyson was known for her dedication to truthfully exploring the broad spectrum of the African-American experience. Tyson was at the forefront of a shift away from one-dimensional, negative screen stereotypes of black women with her starring role in "Sounder" (1972), which was groundbreaking in its portrayal of the dignity, strength and courage of a Depression-era African-American family. The acclaimed film and Tyson's Oscar-nominated leading role opened the doors for a whole new era of black storytelling, and Tyson came to represent this strong and wise image of African-American women with revered performances in "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" (CBS, 1973) and "Roots" (ABC, 1977). Television movies offered the most opportunities for this actress with a mission, and she went on to recreate renowned moments and figures in African-American heritage in "King" (1978), "A Woman Called Moses" (1978), and "Heat Wave" (1990), among others. Whether playing an educated professional, the backbone of a challenged family, or a woman moved by an extraordinary sense of purpose, Tyson continually raised the standards of African-American imagery on film.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

3.
 Alex Cross (2012)
5.
6.
7.
 Idlewild (2006)
9.
 Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005) Myrtle
10.
 Because of Winn-Dixie (2005) Gloria Dump
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Began modeling after being discovered by a photographer for <i>Ebony</i> magazine
1959:
Made film debut in "Odds Against Tomorrow"
1959:
Broadway debut, "Jolly's Progress"
1961:
Gained notice for her performance in off-Broadway production of Genet's "The Blacks"
1963:
TV debut as series regular, "East Side, West Side" (CBS)
1966:
Appeared on CBS daytime drama "The Guiding Light"
1969:
Featured in off-Broadway play "To Be Young Gifted and Black"
1972:
Delivered breakthrough film role in "Sounder"; earned Best Actress Oscar nomination
1973:
Played lead role in "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" (CBS)
1977:
Played Kunta Kinte's mother in ABC miniseries "Roots"
1978:
Portrayed Coretta Scott King in NBC miniseries "King"
1978:
Starred as Harriet Tubman in NBC miniseries "A Woman Called Moses"
1983:
Returned to the stage in production of "The Corn Is Green"
1989:
Landed featured role in ABC miniseries "The Women of Brewster Place"
1991:
Played pivotal role in "Fried Green Tomatoes"
1994:
Played lead in CBS movie "The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All"
1994:
Returned to series TV when she played Carrie Grace Battle on NBC courtroom drama "Sweet Justice"
1997:
Received star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
1997:
Co-starred in crime film "Hoodlum"
1997:
Headlined USA Network holiday movie "Ms. Scrooge"
1998:
Starred in "Alex Haley's Mama Flora's Family" (CBS)
1999:
Earned seventh Emmy nomination for role in acclaimed HBO drama "A Lesson Before Dying"
2001:
Cast as title character's mother in CBS biopic "The Rosa Parks Story"
2005:
Featured in family drama "Because of Winn-Dixie"
2005:
Co-starred in Tyler Perry's "Diary of a Mad Black Woman"
2006:
Re-teamed with Perry for "Madea's Family Reunion"
2009:
Appeared in Hallmark Channel production "Relative Stranger"; earned Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Movie
2009:
Nominated for the 2009 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
2010:
Once again worked with writer and director Perry in "Why Did I Get Married Too?"
2011:
Played Constantine Jefferson in feature adaptation of "The Help"
2012:
Featured in crime thriller "Alex Cross," based on the novel <i>Cross</i> by James Patterson and starring Tyler Perry
2013:
Cast in horror sequel "The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

AFI Conservatory: Los Angeles , California -
AFI Conservatory: - 1977
New York University: New York , New York -
Actors Studio: New York , New York -
Center For Advanced Film Studies, American Film Institute: - 1977

Notes

The year of Ms. Tyson's birth has been variously reported as 1925, 1933 and 1939.

"I don't see myself as having this vast body of work. When I was honored a couple of years ago, they ran clips from all the things I had been in, and I sat in the audience going, Who's that? When did I do that?" --Cicely Tyson in INTERVIEW, September 1997

Awarded honorary doctorates from Atlanta University, Loyola University and Lincoln University.

She has received a National Council of Negro Woman Award.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Miles Davis. Musician. Married 1981; divorced 1988; died September 28, 1991; Tyson's second husband.

Family close complete family listing

father:
William Tyson. Pushcart vendor. West Indian immigrant.
mother:
Theodosia Tyson. Housekeeper. West Indian immigrant.

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