NEWS

Cicely Tyson, Actress Who Captured The Power And Grace Of Black Women In America, Dies

Steve Chawkins
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As Steve Chawkins reports, “By many accounts, she was the first Black woman to appear on TV with natural hair, triggering a “not-so-minor revolution in the minds of young black women,” Ms. magazine recounted.”

Los Angeles

Cicely Tyson, an actress famed for her elegant stage presence and her insistence — sometimes futile — on roles that reflected the power and grace of Black women in America, has died.

Tyson died Thursday afternoon, her manager Larry Thompson said. He did not say where she died or if a cause was known. According to her recently released memoir, she was 87. Public records indicate she was 96.

Tyson received an Oscar nomination for her work in “Sounder,” the 1972 story about a Louisiana sharecropper’s family coping with his imprisonment on a chain gang for a minor theft.

Two years later, she received two Emmy Awards for playing the lead role in “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” a TV movie that followed a woman’s evolution from 19-year-old slave to 110-year-old civil rights activist.

She was drawing rave reviews as recently as 2013, when she starred in the Broadway revival of “The Trip to Bountiful.” Her portrayal of an elderly woman longing for her hometown earned her a Tony nomination, the first of her career. The Broadway run was her first in 30 years.

Tyson, who grew up poor in New York City, was a model who appeared on the covers of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar before beginning her acting career.

By many accounts, she was the first Black woman to appear on TV with natural hair, triggering a “not-so-minor revolution in the minds of young black women,” Ms. magazine recounted.

“All Black women needed was some public person to take the first step toward a more positive identification with African beauty,” Ms. said. “And that person was Cicely Tyson.”
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(Chawkins is a former Times staff writer.)
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Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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