Oprah Winfrey remembers Cicely Tyson in heartfelt tribute

'The roles she played reflected her values,' Winfrey said of Tyson, one of the inspirers of her Legends Ball. 'She never compromised.'

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Media mogul Orpah Winfrey shared a loving tribute to her friend, the late iconic actress Cicely Tyson, in an Instagram post Thursday as news spread of her death. 

Wrote Winfrey: “Of all the times and experiences we shared together, this was one of my favorites: The weekend of the Legends Ball in 2005. The idea for the ball originated because I wanted to celebrate HER, and other remarkable Black women who carved a path and built a bridge for me and generations to follow. What a joy to honor her and feel her receive it! I loved her hat so much, she sent it to me afterwards.”

Oprah Winfrey and Cicely Tyson attend the Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing & Fine Arts grand unveiling on Oct. 24, 2009 in East Orange, New Jersey. (Photo by Brian Killian/Getty Images)

Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball was a private three-day gathering at her estate in Monticello that honored 25 Black women who’ve made indelible marks across the worlds of entertainment, activism and art. The event, which featured a star-studded luncheon, black-tie celebration and festive gospel brunch, was turned into an ABC television special that aired a year later.

Tyson was one of those worthy woman paid tribute, a roster that included Maya Angelou, Diahann Carroll, Ruby Dee, Nikki Giovanni, Dorothy Height, Lena Horne, Coretta Scott King, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Diana Ross, Naomi Sims, Tina Turner, Alice Walker and Dionne Warwick.

“Cicely decided early on that her work as an actor would be more than a job,” Winfrey continued. “She used her career to illuminate the humanity of Black people. The roles she played reflected her values; she never compromised. Her life so fully lived is a testimony to Greatness.”

Tyson, 96, passed away Thursday and received tributes from many celebrities and notable figures, including fellow actors Samuel L. Jackson and Viola Davis, former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama and filmmaker/producer Tyler Perry, who named a soundstage for the famed actress at his 330-acre studio in Atlanta. 

Read More: Barack Obama: Cicely Tyson was one of the ‘giants upon whose shoulders we stood’

In a loving Instagram of his own, Perry said it was Winfrey who broke the news to him that Tyson had died. 

“This one brought me to my knees! She was the grandmother I never had and the wisdom tree that I could always sit under to fill my cup,” he shared. 

Read More: Tyler Perry on Cicely Tyson’s death: ‘This one brought me to my knees’

“My heart breaks in one beat, while celebrating her life in the next,” wrote Perry. “To think that she lived for 96 years and I got to be a part of the last 16 brings me great joy. She called me son. Well, today your son grieves your loss and will miss our long talks, your laughter from your belly, and your very presence.”

“Well, I think it’s safe to say you have done all you were put here to do,” he added, “and we are all better for it.”

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