7 reasons Cicely Tyson deserves ALL of our respect
The acting legend sadly passed away on Thursday at the age of 96, but her life was full of standout moments
American icon Cicely Tyson, died on Thursday at the age of 96, prompting people across the world to revel in her long list of accomplishments.
The trailblazing actress made an immeasurable mark on Hollywood throughout her 70-year career and wrote the book on doing it with grace.
Here are seven facts you may not have known about the star, who deserves all the flowers we’ve got:
She got ALL the roles. Tyson scored her first acting gig on NBC’s Frontiers of Faith in 1951 and went on to land at least 68 more TV gigs throughout her seven-decade career. She ultimately appeared in 29 films and 15 theater productions.
She got ALL the awards. Tyson earned 17 Emmy nominations and brought home three wins, and won a Tony Award, a SAG Award, a Peabody Award, and an honorary Academy Award. In 2010, she earned the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal for her work and support of civil rights. Other accolades include becoming a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2015, being honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016 and being inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 2020.
She had ALL the game. Tyson was married at the age of 18, but was abandoned by her first husband after less 18 months of marriage. Many years later, she began a love affair with legendary musician Miles Davis and found herself on the cover of his 1967 album, Sorcerer. He married singer Betty Davis in 1968, but he and Tyson rekindled their romance in 1978, and were married at the home of Bill Cosby in 1981. Davis credited Tyson with helping him kick his cocaine addiction, but the pair divorced in 1989.
She made ALL the history. In the early 1960s, Tyson appeared in the original cast of Jean Genet’s The Blacks alongside James Earl Jones, Maya Angelou, Charles Gordone, Godfrey Cambridge, and Louis Gossett, Jr. The show became the longest-running off-Broadway musical of the decade. In 1963, Tyson became the first Black actor to star in a television drama with her role in East Side/West Side. In 2013, she became the oldest person to win a Tony Award for Best Actress for her role in The Trip to Bountiful. In 2018, she became the first Black woman to receive an honorary Oscar.
She had ALL the degrees. Tyson received honorary degrees from Clark Atlanta University, Howard University, Columbia University and Morehouse College, despite the fact that institution is for men. In 2009, a magnet school in East Orange, New Jersey was named the Cicely Tyson School of Performing & Fine Arts in her honor.
She had ALL the hobbies. Tyson got her start as a model after being discovered by a photographer for EBONY Magazine. Aside from being a mother and an award-winning actress, she was a vegetarian, a runner, an avid meditator and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
She had ALL the integrity. Throughout her 70-year career, Tyson was adamant about representing the Black community in the right way, often going without work because she refused to play drug addicts or other stereotypical depictions of Black women. Earlier this month, she revealed that she valued truth above all else and offered advice for the younger generation. “I try always to be true to myself,” she told The New York Times Magazine on Jan. 10. “I learned from my mom: Don’t lie ever, no matter how bad it is. Don’t lie to me ever, OK? You will be happier that you told the truth. That has stayed with me, and it will stay with me for as long as I’m lucky enough to be here.”
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