Search My Tributes

Hollywood legend and The Help star Cicely Tyson dies aged 96

Fri 29th Jan 2021

Cicely Tyson in 1973. Photo: Peters, Hans/Anefo
Cicely Tyson in 1973. Photo: Peters, Hans/Anefo

Veteran actress Cicely Tyson has died at the age of 96.

Tyson, who starred as Constantine Jefferson in the 2011 smash hit The Help, died just days after the publication of her long-awaited memoir, Just As I Am. A career-spanning interview to promote the book had aired on US television earlier this week, showing the actress appearing in good health.

It was an emotional interview, as Tyson opened up to TV host Gayle King about the highs and lows of her career - including a traumatic sexual assault she suffered from a well-known acting coach at the start of her career.

"You know, I never shed a tear about that until this moment," Tyson told her interviewer as she became choked up.

King asked Tyson several questions touching on her mortality. Tyson insisted she felt she had more to do in this life: "That's why I'm still here."

Asked how she'd like to be remembered, she remarked simply: "I've done my best. That's all."

Tyson had scored a Best Actress Oscar nomination in 1972 for her work in the film Sounder, and more recently won a Tony Award in 2013 at the age of 88.

Tyson's death was announced by 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," a statement from Thompson read.

Cicely Tyson in The Help.
Cicely Tyson in The Help.


Tyson had a pivotal role in the 2011 smash hit.
Tyson had a pivotal role in the 2011 smash hit.

Other recent roles from Tyson included a 10-episode stint in How To Get Away With Murder, three episodes of House of Cards, and an award-winning performance in the 2005 film Diary of a Mad Black Woman.

Tyson's glamorous red carpet appearances also made headlines in recent years, as celeb watchers marvelled at her youthful appearance - here she is in 2016, aged 91:

And three years later, walking the Academy Awards red carpet aged 94:

In 2016, then-President Barack Obama awarded Tyson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honour for civilians in the United States:

Last year Tyson was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame, and remained active up until her death, with interviews for her new memoir airing on television earlier this week. This career-spanning chat with Gayle King aired just two days before her death:

She married twice: for 12 years to Kenneth Franklin in 1942, then again to legendary jazz musician Miles Davis from 1981-1989. While many outlets reported she had no children, she referred to a daughter called Joan in her new memoir.

Tributes are flowing for the Hollywood trailblazer:







News of Tyson's death comes just a day after Hollywood mourned the passing of another screen legend - comedian and Oscar-winner Cloris Leachman, who died aged 94.

Originally published as Star dies days after emotional interview