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Here's The Life Of Legendary Actor Cicely Tyson In Photos

The award-winning actor who carved out an iconic career for her roles in theater, film, and television died on Thursday at age 96.

Posted on January 28, 2021, at 7:57 p.m. ET

Cicely Tyson, the Hollywood legend who won Emmy and Tony awards during a 70-year career that spanned television, film, and theater, died Thursday at the age of 96.

Tyson became a legend over decades of turning down stereotypical roles for Black women and forging a path with nuanced characters that led to her status as a household name with roles in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, East Side/West Side, and later a guest role in ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder. In all, she was nominated for 16 Emmy Awards.

Here's a look back on her iconic life.

Walter Mcbride / WireImage

Cicely Tyson attends the American Theatre Wing Gala at the Plaza Hotel on Sept. 26, 2016, in New York City.

Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Tyson poses for a portrait circa 1960.

Getty Images

From left: Mel Torme and Sammy Davis Jr. (back row), Ossie Davis, Tyson, and Louis Armstrong (front row), the stars of the film A Man Called Adam, 1966.

Michael Ochs Archives

Tyson poses for a portrait in 1973.

Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Tyson holds two Emmy Awards that she won for her performance in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman on May 28, 1974, in Los Angeles.

Jack Mitchell / Getty Images

Tyson poses for a portrait in 1976 in New York City.

Getty Images

From left: Tyson and Maya Angelou look lovingly at a baby in a scene from the 1977 television miniseries Roots.

Sgranitz / WireImage

Tyson is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard in 1977.

Courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection

Tyson as Coretta Scott King and Paul Winfield as Martin Luther King Jr. star in the 1978 miniseries King.

John D. Kisch / Getty Images

Tyson and Richard Pryor star in the film Bustin' Loose, 1981.

Perez / AP / REX

Tyson poses in a June 1981 portrait.

Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

Civil rights activist Rosa Parks of Detroit shows off the Wonder Woman Foundation's special 1984 Eleanor Roosevelt Woman of Courage Award presented to her by Tyson on Nov. 14, 1984.

Showtime Networks Inc. / Courtesy Everett Collection

Mario Van Peebles, Tyson, and Melvin Van Peebles star in Riot, 1997.

The Avnet / courtesy Everett Collection

From left: Mario Van Peebles, Cicely Tyson, Queen Latifah, and Blair Underwood, pose on the set of Mama Flora's Family, 1998.

Kevin Glackmeyer / Associated Press

Tyson reacts upon seeing a life-size bronze sculpture of Rosa Parks in the Rosa Parks Library and Museum on Dec. 1, 2000, in Montgomery, Alabama.

Jesse Grant / WireImage

Tyson received the Distinguished Career Achievement Award at the TNT Black Movie Awards on Oct. 15, 2006.

REX

Tyson poses on the runway at the fall 2009 Heart Truth show at Bryant Park in New York City.

Courtesy Everett Collection

Tyson and Lila Rogers star in The Help, 2011.

Bruce Glikas / FilmMagic

From left: Vanessa Williams, Tyson, and Cuba Gooding Jr. take the opening night curtain call for The Trip to Bountiful at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on April 23, 2013, in New York City.

Rob Kim / Getty Images

The cast of The Trip to Bountiful attend the 100th Performance Celebration at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on July 23, 2013, in New York City.

Paul Morigi / AP

Tyson, Maya Angelou, and Oprah Winfrey pose for a photo backstage at Angelou's portrait unveiling at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, on April 5, 2014.

D Dipasupil / Getty Images

From left: CEO of BET Networks Debra Lee, Tyson, and first lady Michelle Obama attend the Black Girls Rock! BET special at NJPAC Prudential Hall on March 28, 2015, in Newark, New Jersey.

Alex Wong / Getty Images

Tyson is greeted by former president Barack Obama after she was presented with an honorary degree during the 2016 commencement ceremony at Howard University, May 7, 2016, in Washington, DC.

Bobby Bank / WireImage

Tyson attends the Juilliard School 111th commencement ceremony on May 20, 2016, in New York City.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Former president Barack Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Tyson during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 22, 2016.

Chris Pizzello / AP

Honoree Tyson addresses the audience at the 2016 Ebony Power 100 Gala at the Beverly Hilton on Dec. 1, 2016, in Beverly Hills.

Tommaso Boddi / WireImage

Tyson attends BET's 2017 American Black Film Festival Honors at the Beverly Hilton on Feb. 17, 2017, in Beverly Hills.

Cooper Neill / Getty Images

Tyson receives the Legends Award from Bishop T.D. Jakes during MegaFest's International Faith and Family Film Festival at Omni Hotel on June 30, 2017, in Dallas.


A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.

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