(NEXSTAR) – Groundbreaking actress Cicely Tyson, whose portrayal of strong Black women on the stage and screen broke stereotypes, died at the age of 96 Thursday.
Her longtime manager Larry Thompson confirmed to Nexstar that the iconic actress had died, but did not release a cause of death:
“With heavy heart, the family of Miss Cicely Tyson announces her peaceful transition this afternoon. At this time, please allow the family their privacy.”
Tyson appeared on television as recently as Tuesday morning, when she sat down with CBS’ Gayle King about her recently-released memoir “Just As I Am.”
Tyson, who worked as a model early in her career, went on to shatter barriers in the 1970s for Black actors by refusing roles that demeaned Black people.
“I’m very selective as I’ve been my whole career about what I do. Unfortunately, I’m not the kind of person who works only for money. It has to have some real substance for me to do it,” she told The Associated Press in 2013.
In 1974, she won two Emmys for her role in the television drama “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.” She was also nominated for an Oscar for playing the sharecropper’s wife in “Sounder” and won a Tony award in 2013 at the age of 88 for “The Trip to Bountiful.”
Actress Vanessa Williams, who worked with Tyson on “The Trip to Bountiful” told Ebony in 2013: “She comes on screen and you’re just mesmerized by her presence. She’s our legend. She’s our Meryl Streep. She has paved the way.”
In 2016, President Obama bestowed the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, on the decorated actress. While presenting the award, President Obama said: “Cicely’s convictions and grace have helped for us to see the dignity of every single beautiful memory of the American family.”
Tyson was married once, to jazz great Miles Davis. The wedding was held in 1981 at Bill Cosby’s house in Greenfield, Massachusetts, attended by show business notables. They divorced in 1988.
The Associated Press contribute to this report.