Refresh for updates… The death of Cicely Tyson today saw a profuse outpouring of praise and reminiscence across the generations for the regal Roots and Sounder star.
The loss resonated across the generations, as Euphoria‘s Zendaya posted just minutes after the official news:
This one hurts, today we honor and celebrate the life of one of the greatest to ever do it. Thank you Cicely Tyson. Rest in great power. pic.twitter.com/vwchWT5512
— Zendaya (@Zendaya) January 29, 2021
In clearly personal terms and five years after awarding Tyson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Barack Obama offered his memories of “trailblazer” Cicely Tyson
The current Vice President, the first woman and the first person of Black and South Asian decent in the job, also paid tribute:
Cicely Tyson broke barriers and paved the way for so many. She inspired the world with her art, activism, and altruism. Cicely, thank you for your wisdom over the years – I will forever be grateful.
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) January 29, 2021
QUEEN somehow just doesn't capture MS. TYSON. Her legacy has left an indelible mark. She paved a way that created a space for girls like me to feel the light. Thank you GODDESS CICELY. Rest in power. pic.twitter.com/VCBCwPpc05
— Regina King (@ReginaKing) January 29, 2021
Tyson played Annalise’s mother (Viola Davis) on Shondaland’s ABC drama series How To Get Away With Murder. The role earned her five Emmy nominations, most recently last year. Viola and Shonda Rhimes both remembered the screen icon.
Kerry Washington, another Shondaland star, also weighed in with words of faith from the stage:
Tyson’s Roots co-star and dancer Ben Vereen said in a statement:
“To Cicely Tyson – Grace and elegance has left the planet. Thank you as we follow in your footsteps towards a higher tomorrow today. Thank you for the lessons you shared with all of us. I will love you forever.”
Another star of the groundbreaking 1977 miniseries also paid tribute:
This one cuts deep. @IAmCicelyTyson was my first screen Mom.. Elegance, warmth, beauty, wisdom, style and abundant grace. She was as regal as they come. An artist of the highest order, I will love her forever… ♥️ RIP pic.twitter.com/69Awj7qI8o
— LeVar Burton (@levarburton) January 29, 2021
The King Center joins the world in remembering the life and legacy of #CicelyTyson. Trailblazer is not a sufficient description. What a legendary artist, sage and matriarch. We salute her. Rest in power, Lady Cicely. pic.twitter.com/aLAc8HgrCR
— The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center (@TheKingCenter) January 29, 2021
RIP Cicely pic.twitter.com/vmSpGg3SVh
— Rita Moreno (@TheRitaMoreno) January 29, 2021
Rest in power, Cicely Tyson. Forever our queen pic.twitter.com/DZH93RDJwV
— Strong Black Lead (@strongblacklead) January 29, 2021
#CicelyTyson was one of the most beautiful women to ever grace the screen. Her voice. Her elegance. Her presence. She was beauty personified. She was poetry. She was culture. She will be missed. pic.twitter.com/q8XdRpFg7d
— @tiffanydcross (@TiffanyDCross) January 29, 2021
Having worked with Tyson just last year, Tyler Perry took to social media in grief this evening:
I was sitting at the table working when I got this overwhelming feeling to watch Miss Jane Pittman. I hadn’t seen the movie in years. I didn’t even understand the feeling to turn it on, but I did anyway. Not 12 minutes into the movie my phone rang… cont: https://t.co/Cnwrw6chXg pic.twitter.com/KwogNifCV8
— Tyler Perry (@tylerperry) January 29, 2021
Read Perry’s full remarks here:
I was sitting at the table working when I got this overwhelming feeling to watch Miss Jane Pittman. I hadn’t seen the movie in years. I didn’t even understand the feeling to turn it on, but I did anyway. Not 12 minutes into the movie my phone rang. It was Oprah calling to tell me that Cicely had died. This one brought me to my knees! She was the grandmother I never had and the wisdom tree that I could always sit under to fill my cup. My heart breaks in one beat, while celebrating her life in the next. To think that she lived for 96 years and I got to be a part of the last 16 brings me great joy. She called me son. Well, today your son grieves your loss and will miss our long talks, your laughter from your belly, and your very presence. Always so regal, always so classy, always a lady, always a queen. Every time we would talk I would ask, “How are you?” and you would say, “I’m still here. He must have something he wants me to do.” Well, I think it’s safe to say you have done all you were put here to do, and we are all better for it.
Oprah Winfrey also took to Facebook to say goodbye:
Of all the times and experiences we shared together, this was one of my favorites: The weekend of the Legends Ball in 2005. The idea for the ball originated because I wanted to celebrate HER, and other remarkable Black women who carved a path and built a bridge for me and generations to follow. What a joy to honor her and feel her receive it! I loved her hat so much, she sent it to me afterwards. Cicely decided early on that her work as an actor would be more than a job. She used her career to illuminate the humanity in Black people. The roles she played reflected her values; she never compromised. Her life so fully lived is a testimony to Greatness.
“We took a “Trip to Bountiful” with these legends 🌟 #SidneyPoitier @blairunderwood_official #CicelyTyson Stage. Screen. Activism. Dedication. Excellence,” said Vanessa Williams on Facebook of Tyson on Thursday in memorial.
So saddened by the loss of Cicely Tyson….A gentle soul, immensely talented and so thoroughly dignified. She brought so much life to the characters she played, and their voices…her voice…will always be with us.
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) January 29, 2021
Most recently seen in Ava DuVernay’s Cherish the Day series on OWN and Tyler Perry’s A Fall from Grace film on Netflix Tyson passed way at the age of 96, after a career that spanned seven decades, A barrier and genre bursting career that saw multiple Emmy wins, an Oscar nomination, an Honorary Academy Award in 2018, a Tony award, a Peabody Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Tyson’s death came just two days after her memoir Just as I Am was published. A book and a life celebrated by DuVernay and Oprah yesterday in social media posts that take on renewed meaning today.
.@IAmCicelyTyson's iconic beauty may have gotten her noticed at a young age, but it’s her talent that made her the living legend she is. And she’s finally telling her story. I read her memoir #JustAsIAm and now fully understand why she is such a treasure. What a life! pic.twitter.com/MZrCIbXFNP
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) January 27, 2021
If you watch anything today, please watch this magnificent profile on the icon @IAmCicelyTyson. I smiled, cried and am inspired beyond words. She’s a dream of a woman and an artist. 96 years wise. Her must-read memoir just debuted. It is luminous, like her.pic.twitter.com/FuTNu90bcO
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 27, 2021