Cicely Tyson - Rotten Tomatoes

Cicely Tyson



One of America's most respected dramatic actresses, Cicely Tyson has worked steadily as a television, film, and stage actress since making her stage debut in a Harlem YMCA production of Dark of the Moon in the 1950s. The daughter of Caribbean immigrants, Tyson was raised in Harlem. After working as a secretary and a successful model, she became an actress, landed her first jobs in off-Broadway productions, and eventually made it to the Great White Way in the late '50s.

Tyson got her first real break in 1963, playing a secretary to George C. Scott on the TV series East Side/West Side, and in 1966 signed on with the daytime soap The Guiding Light. That same year, she made her credited screen debut starring opposite Sammy Davis Jr. in the drama A Man Called Adam (her first uncredited film role was in 1959's Odds Against Tomorrow). More film, television, and stage work followed, but Tyson did not truly become a star until her Oscar-nominated performance in the Depression drama Sounder (1972). An unusual beauty with delicate features, expressive black eyes, and a full, wide mouth, Tyson next hid her good looks beneath layers of old-age makeup to convincingly portray a 110-year-old former slave who tells her extraordinary life story in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974). A well-wrought effort, it won Tyson her first Emmy for her title role, which required her to age 91 years on the screen.

Tyson subsequently had great success on television, particularly with her role in the legendary miniseries Roots (1977) and her work in The Women of Brewster Place (1989). She also continued to do a fair amount of film work, appearing in films like Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (1994), The Grass Harp (1995), and Hoodlum (1997). In 1997, Tyson again donned old woman's makeup to offer a delightfully crotchety version of Charles Dickens' Scrooge in the 1997 USA Network original production Ms. Scrooge. Two years later, she had another television success -- and another Emmy nomination -- with A Lesson Before Dying, a drama set in the 1940s about a black man sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit. Tyson was later featured in a trio of popular Tyler Perry movies, including Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005), Madea's Family Reunion (2006) and Why Did I Get Married Too? (2010). She also had a small, but pivotal, role in 2011's Oscar-nominated The Help, as Contstantine, the loving and elderly maid of Skeeter Phelan (Emma Stone).

Photos

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet Showing Roots
  • Hattie
2016
No Score Yet The Trip to Bountiful
  • Producer
  • Executive Producer
  • Carrie Watts
2014
19% The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia
  • Mama Kay
2013
11% Alex Cross
  • Nana Mama
2012
75% The Help
  • Constantine Jefferson
2011
26% Why Did I Get Married Too
  • Ola
2010
No Score Yet Up From The Bottoms: The Search For The American Dream
  • Narrator
2009
No Score Yet Relative Stranger
  • Pearl
2009
No Score Yet Marva Collins Story
  • Actor
2008
No Score Yet Rwanda Rising
  • Actor
2007
48% Idlewild
  • Mother Hopkins
2006
25% Madea's Family Reunion
  • Myrtle
2006
No Score Yet King
  • Coretta Scott King
2006
No Score Yet Fat Rose and Squeaky
  • Celine Snow
2006
16% Diary of a Mad Black Woman
  • Myrtle
2005
54% Because of Winn-Dixie
  • Gloria
2005
No Score Yet Neighbors
  • Actor
2003
No Score Yet The Rosa Parks Story
  • Leona McCauley
2002
No Score Yet Jewel
  • Cathedral
2001
No Score Yet Tyler Perry's Diary of a Mad Black Woman - The Play
  • Actor
2001
No Score Yet Mama Flora's Family
  • Mama Flora
1999
No Score Yet A Lesson Before Dying
  • Tante Lou
1999
No Score Yet Always Outnumbered
  • Luvia
1998
43% Hoodlum
  • Stephanie St. Clair
1997
No Score Yet Riot
  • Maggie
1997
No Score Yet Ms. Scrooge
  • Ebenita Scrooge
1997
50% The Grass Harp
  • Actor
1996
No Score Yet The Road to Galveston
  • Jordan Roosevelt
1996
33% Jefferson in Paris
  • Actor
1995
No Score Yet The Price of Heaven
  • Vesta Lotte Battle
1995
No Score Yet Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All
  • Castalia
1994
No Score Yet Duplicates
  • Dr. Randolph
1992
73% Fried Green Tomatoes
  • Sipsey
1991
No Score Yet Heat Wave
  • Ruthana Richardson
1990
No Score Yet The Kid Who Loved Christmas
  • Actor
1990
No Score Yet The Women of Brewster Place
  • Mrs. Browne
1989
No Score Yet Samaritan: The Mitch Snyder Story
  • Muriel
1986
No Score Yet Acceptable Risks
  • Janet Framm
1986
No Score Yet The Marva Collins Story
  • Marva Collins
1981
No Score Yet Bustin' Loose
  • Vivian Perry
1981
14% The Concorde... Airport '79
  • Elaine
1979
No Score Yet A Woman Called Moses
  • Harriet Ross Tubman
1978
No Score Yet A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich
  • Sweets
1978
No Score Yet King
  • Actor
1978
No Score Yet Wilma
  • Actor
1977
No Score Yet The River Niger
  • Mattie Williams
1976
No Score Yet The Blue Bird
  • Cat
1976
No Score Yet Just an Old Sweet Song
  • Priscilla Simmons
1976
No Score Yet The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
  • Jane Pittman
1974
No Score Yet Free to Be...You and Me
  • Actor
1974
88% Sounder
  • Rebecca Morgan
1972
100% The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
  • Portia
1968
27% The Comedians
  • Marie Therese
1967
No Score Yet A Man Called Adam
  • Claudia Ferguson
1966
No Score Yet The Last Angry Man
  • Girl Left on Porch
1959
No Score Yet Odds Against Tomorrow
  • Fra
1959

TV

RATING TITLE CREDIT
90% How to Get Away With Murder
2014
  • Ophelia
No Score Yet Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
1999
  • Odine Burdett
No Score Yet Sunday Morning
2011
  • Appearing
No Score Yet The View
1997
  • Guest
No Score Yet Saturday Night Live
1975
  • Guest

Quotes from Cicely Tyson's Characters