Stars including Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry are paying tribute to icon Cicely Tyson, who passed away Thursday at the age of 96.
On Thursday, the actress’ longtime manager Larry Thompson announced the heartbreaking news to multiple outlets.
“I have managed Miss Tyson’s career for over 40 years, and each year was a privilege and blessing,” Thompson said in a statement obtained by Variety. “Cicely thought of her new memoir as a Christmas tree decorated with all the ornaments of her personal and professional life. Today she placed the last ornament, a Star, on top of the tree.”
After word broke, numerous members of the entertainment industry paid tribute to Tyson on social media.
Viola Davis, who played Tyson’s character’s daughter on the TV series “How to Get Away with Murder,” wrote:
Tyler Perry, who collaborated with Tyson on 2005’s “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” 2006’s “Madea’s Family Reunion,” and 2010’s “Why Did I Get Married Too?” added on his Instagram:
On Friday, Perry posted a sweet video where he surprises Tyson during a recent birthday.
Shonda Rhimes, who was an executive producer on “How to Get Away with Murder,” added:
Oprah Winfrey wrote on Instagram that Tyson “used her career to illuminate the humanity of Black people.”
Barack and Michelle Obama wrote on Twitter:
In her extraordinary career, Cicely Tyson was one of the rare award-winning actors whose work on the screen was surpassed only by what she was able to accomplish off of it. She had a heart unlike any other—and for 96 years, she left a mark on the world that few will ever match. pic.twitter.com/JRsL3zlKtP— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) January 29, 2021
What struck me every time I spent time with Cicely Tyson was not necessarily her star power—though that was evident enough—it was her humanity. Just by walking into a room, she had this way of elevating everyone around her. pic.twitter.com/o6VAV63wqd— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) January 29, 2021
I’ll miss her dearly, but I smile knowing how many people she inspired, just like me, to walk a little taller, speak a little more freely, and live a little bit more like God intended.— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) January 29, 2021
Throughout her acclaimed career, Tyson won three Emmys, four Black Reel Awards, one Screen Actors Guild Award, one Tony Award, an honorary Academy Award, and a Peabody Award.
She also refused to play drug addicts, prostitutes, maids, or any roles she thought were demeaning to Black women.
In November 2016, Obama awarded Tyson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States. Four years later, in 2020, she was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.
Tyson — who was married to jazz legend Miles Davis from 1981 to 1988 — is survived by family members including her niece, British actress Cathy Tyson.
She will be missed.