Legendary American actress, Cicely Tyson, daughter of Caribbean immigrants, died on January 28 at the age of 96.
Tyson’s death was announced by her family, via her manager Larry Thompson, who did not provide additional details.
“With heavy heart, the family of Miss Cicely Tyson announces her peaceful transition this afternoon. At this time, please allow the family their privacy,” according to a statement issued through Thompson.
Tyson was born in Harlem in 1924, to Caribbean immigrant parents, Frederica Tyson, a domestic worker, and William Augustine Tyson, who worked as a carpenter, painter, and at any other jobs he could find. Both her parents were born in Nevis, the sister island of St. Kitts.
Her father arrived in New York City at age 21 and was processed at Ellis Island on August 4, 1919.
Cicely Tyson was discovered by a photographer for Ebony magazine and became a popular fashion model before she became an actress.
In 1963, she became the first Black actress to star in a television drama when she starred in the celebrated series East Side/West Side.
In her legendary career that spanned six decades, Tyson won three Emmy Awards, a Tony Award and an Academy Award. Her most celebrated work included “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman”, “Sounder”, “The Help” and the tv show, “How To Get Away With Murder”.
In 1997, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and in 2016, she was awarded the United States’ highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Barack Obama. In 2020, she was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.
Sir Kennedy Simmonds, the first Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, was among the first to pay tribute to Tyson.
He posted on Facebook: “Saddened to hear of the passing of the legendary and iconic Hollywood actress Cicely Tyson. Cicely Tyson was born to Nevisian parents and was extremely proud of her Nevisian heritage.
“She was a very special guest of the St Kitts-Nevis Government at our Independence Celebrations in 1983. In 1989 she returned to the federation, this time bringing Rev Jesse Jackson in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo. She was as proud of her heritage as we were of her. Rest In Peace Cicely Tyson. You’ve done well. You’ve done us proud.”
Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness also paid tribute to Tyson, with a statement that read: “Her inspiring acting career lasted decades and was marked by many groundbreaking moments including outstanding performances in “Roots”, “King: The Martin Luther King Story”, and “Trip to Bountiful.” Cicely Tyson is a household name and her roles resonated with people all over the world. I send heartfelt condolences to her loved ones and fans.”