Cicely L. Tyson (born December 18, 1924) is an American actress. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, and the Golden Globe Award for her performance as Rebecca Morgan in Sounder (1972). For this role she also won the NSFC Best Actress and NBR Best Actress Awards. She starred in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974), for which she won two Emmy Awards and was nominated for a BAFTA Award.
During her career she has been nominated for eleven Primetime Emmy Awards, winning three. In 2011, she appeared in the film The Help, for which she received awards for her ensemble work as Constantine from the BFCA and SAG Awards and she has an additional four SAG Award nominations. She starred on Broadway in The Trip to Bountiful as Carrie Watts, for which she won the Tony Award, Outer Critics Award, and Drama Desk Award for Best Actress in a Play. She previously received a Drama Desk Award in 1962 for her Off-Broadway performance in Moon on a Rainbow Shawl.
Tyson was born and raised in Harlem, the daughter of Frederica, a domestic, and William Tyson, who worked as a carpenter, painter, and at any other jobs he could find. Her parents were immigrants from Nevis in the West Indies. Her father arrived in New York City at age 21 and was processed at Ellis Island on August 4, 1919.
Tyson was discovered by a photographer for Ebony magazine and became a popular fashion model. Her first acting role was on the NBC series Frontiers of Faith in 1951. Her first film role was in Carib Gold in 1956, but she went on to do more television work, such as the celebrated series East Side/West Side and the soap opera The Guiding Light. In 1961, Tyson appeared in the original cast of French playwright Jean Genet’s The Blacks, the longest running off-Broadway non-musical of the decade, running for 1,408 performances. She appeared with Sammy Davis, Jr. in the film A Man Called Adam (1966) and starred in the film version of Graham Greene’s The Comedians (1967). Tyson had a featured role in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968), and appeared in a segment of Roots.
In 1972, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the critically acclaimed Sounder. In 1974, she won two Emmy Awards for The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Other acclaimed television roles included Roots; King, in which she portrayed Coretta Scott King, The Marva Collins Story, When No One Would Listen, and The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, for which she received her third Emmy Award. In 1982, she was awarded the Women in Film Crystal Award for outstanding women, who through their endurance and the excellence of their work have helped to expand the role of women within the entertainment industry.
In 1991 she appeared in Fried Green Tomatoes as Sipsey. In her 1994–95 television series Sweet Justice, Tyson portrayed a civil rights activist and attorney named Carrie Grace Battle, a character she shaped by reportedly consulting with noted Washington, D.C. civil rights and criminal defense lawyer Dovey Johnson Roundtree. In 2005, Tyson co-starred in Because of Winn-Dixie and Diary of a Mad Black Woman. The same year she was honored at Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball. The Cicely Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts, a magnet school in East Orange, New Jersey, was renamed in her honor. She plays an active part in supporting the school, which serves one of New Jersey’s most underprivileged African-American communities. In 2010, she narrated the “Paul Robeson Award”-winning documentary, Up from the Bottoms: The Search for the American Dream. In 2010, she appeared in Why Did I Get Married Too? In 2011, Tyson appeared in her first music video in Willow Smith’s 21st Century Girl. That same year she played Constantine Jefferson in The Help.
At the 67th Tony Awards on June 9, 2013, Tyson won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance as Miss Carrie Watts in The Trip to Bountiful. She also won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play for the role.
Tyson has been married once, to legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis on November 26, 1981. The ceremony was conducted by Atlanta mayor Andrew Young at the home of actor Bill Cosby. Tyson and Davis divorced in 1988. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. On May 17, 2009, she received an honorary degree from Morehouse College, an all-male college. In 2010, she was awarded the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP.
On May 21, 2014, she was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Columbia University.
|1957||Dark of the Moon||Little Theatre|
|1959||Jolly’s Progress||Jolly (understudy)||Longacre Theatre|
|1960||Cool World, TheThe Cool World||Girl||Eugene O’Neill Theatre|
|1961||Blacks: A Clown Show, The||Stephanie Virtue Diop||St. Mark’s Playhouse|
|1962||Moon on a Rainbow Shawl||East 11th Street Theater|
|1962||Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright||Celeste Chipley
Adelaide Smith (understudy)
|1963||Blue Boy in Black, The||Joan||Masque Theatre|
|1963||Trumpets of the Lord||Rev. Marion Alexander||Astor Place Theatre|
|1966||Hand Is on the Gate, A||Performer||Longacre Theatre|
|1968||Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights||Myrna Jessup||John Golden Theatre|
|1969||To Be Young, Gifted and Black||Various||Cherry Lane Theatre|
|1969||Trumpets of the Lord||Rev. Marion Alexander||Brooks Atkinson Theatre|
|1983||Corn Is Green, The||Miss Moffat||Lunt-Fontanne Theatre|
|2013||Trip to Bountiful, The||Miss Carrie Watts||Stephen Sondheim Theatre|
|2015||The Gin Game||Fonsia Dorsey||John Golden Theatre|
|1958||Odds Against Tomorrow||Jazz Club bartender|
|1959||Last Angry Man, TheThe Last Angry Man||Girl Left on Porch||(uncredited)|
|1966||Man Called Adam, AA Man Called Adam||Claudia Ferguson|
|1967||Comedians, TheThe Comedians||Marie Therese|
|1968||Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, TheThe Heart Is a Lonely Hunter||Portia|
|1972||Sounder||Rebecca Morgan||Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
National Board of Review Award for Best Actress
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
|1976||Blue Bird, TheThe Blue Bird||Tylette, The Cat|
|1976||River Niger, TheThe River Niger||Mattie Williams|
|1978||Hero Ain’t Nothin’ but a Sandwich, AA Hero Ain’t Nothin’ but a Sandwich||Sweets||1978 King Coretta King|
|1979||Concorde … Airport ’79, TheThe Concorde … Airport ’79||Elaine|
|1981||Bustin’ Loose||Vivian Perry|
|1991||Fried Green Tomatoes||Sipsey|
|1997||Hoodlum||Stephanie St. Clair||Nominated — Acapulco Black Film Festival Award for Best Actress
Nominated — NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
|2001||Double Dutch Divas!, TheThe Double Dutch Divas!||Herself||(short subject) (uncredited)|
|2005||Because of Winn-Dixie||Gloria Dump|
|2005||Diary of a Mad Black Woman||Myrtle||NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Nominated — BET Comedy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Theatrical Film
Nominated — Black Movie Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
|2006||Madea’s Family Reunion||Myrtle|
|2006||Fat Rose and Squeaky||Celine|
|2007||Rwanda Rising||Voice of Jeanette Nyirabagarwa||(documentary)|
|2009||Up from the Bottoms: The Search for the American Dream||Narrator||(documentary)|
|2010||Why Did I Get Married Too?||Ola|
|2011||Help, TheThe Help||Constantine Bates||Black Film Critics Circle Award for Best Ensemble
Black Reel Award for Best Ensemble
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Cast
Hollywood Film Festival Award for Ensemble of the Year
National Board of Review Award for Best Cast
Satellite Award for Best Cast – Motion Picture
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
Women Film Critics Circle Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated — Central Ohio Film Critics Association for Best Ensemble
Nominated — Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated — San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Performance by an Ensemble
Nominated — Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble
|2012||Alex Cross||Nana Mama|
|2013||The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia||Mamma Kay|
- “New York, Naturalization Records, 1882-1944 (database online)”. Ancestry.com. Original source: The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, D.C.; Petitions for Naturalization from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1897-1944; Series M1972, Roll 956. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
- “Cicely Tyson Biography”. biography.com. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
- The U.S. naturalization petition of William Augustine Tyson, father of Cecily Tyson, shows her birth date as December 18, 1924. New sources (including , , , , , , , , , and ) all indicate that she was born in 1924, although some references cited December 19 as the day of her birth while most cited 1933 as her birth year.
- Cicely Tyson at the Internet Movie Database
- Cicely Tyson at the Internet Broadway Database
- Cicely Tyson profile, Filmreference.com; retrieved 2013-08-09.
- CICELY TYSON: BAH, HUMBUG? ACTRESS STARS AS MS. SCROOGE.(LIVING). The Cincinnati Post, November 28, 1997.
- Klemesrud, Judy (1972-10-01). “Cicely, the Looker From ‘Sounder’; Cicely, the Looker”. The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
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- “IMDB cast and crew”. Retrieved November 4, 2014.
- Women in Film website. Wif.org; retrieved 2013-08-09.
- “The Help“. Retrieved November 4, 2014.
- Purcell, Carey (2013-06-09). “Kinky Boots, Vanya and Sonia, Pippin and Virginia Woolf? Are Big Winners at 67th Annual Tony Awards”. Playbill. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
- Hetrick, Adam (2013-05-19). “Billy Porter, Andrea Martin, Pippin, Matilda, Vanya and Sonia Win Drama Desk Awards”. Playbill. Retrieved 2013-05-20.
- Gans, Andrew (May 13, 2013). Is Big Winner of 2012–13 Outer Critics Circle Awards “Pippin Is Big Winner of 2012–13 Outer Critics Circle Awards”. Playbill. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
- NAACP Spingarn Medal. Naacp.org; retrieved 2013-08-09.
- Honorary degree bestowed on Cicely Tyson, news.columbia.edu; accessed 3 June 2015.
- Harrison, Paul Carter; Andrews, Bert (1989). In the Shadow of the Great White Way: Images from the Black Theatre (First ed.). Thunder’s Mouth Press.
- “Jolly’s Progress”. Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
- “The Cood World”. Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
- “The Blacks: A Clown Show”. Lortel Archives: The Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
- “Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright”. United States: Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
- “The Blue Boy in Black”. Lortel Archives: The Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
- “Trumpets of the Lord”. Lortel Archives: The Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
- “A Hand Is on the Gate”. Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
- “Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights”. Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
- “To Be Young, Gifted and Black”. New York, New York: Lortel Archives: The Internet off-Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
- “Trumpets of the Lord”. New York, New York: Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
- “The Corn Is Green”. Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
- “The Corn Is Green”. Internet Theatre Database. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
- Cicely Tyson at the Internet Broadway Database
- Cicely Tyson at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Cicely Tyson at the Internet Movie Database
- Cicely Tyson at the TCM Movie Database
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Due for update on 12 Dec 2015