Saturday, May 18, 2024

How Old Is Cicely Tyson? A Real Mystery Exists. Is She “Benjamin Button”?


How old is Cicely Tyson really? Her official age on the and other sources puts her at 79. That would seem about right. An article from People magazine’s archives, published in 1974 when she was nominated for an Oscar for “Sounder,” would seem to agree.,,20064128,00.html

But today’s New York Times says she’s 88 years old. A publicist for “The Trip to Bountiful” tells me: “She doesn’t dispute it.” At the premiere last night, another sider said the cast of the play asked her, and again, she didn’t quarrel with 88. The publicist said that both the Times and CBS had done comparisons, looking at old stories to figure it out.

I looked at this woman up close last night under photographers’ bright lights. If she’s 88,  I want the name and number of everyone involved. She’s discovered the fountain of youth.

So which is it? Seventy nine or eighty eight? I checked with some databases today that are based on census and tax records. I was convinced I would come up with 70. And lo and behold, I’m getting the higher number. Gasp. Tyson is on stage for two hours, in almost every scene of “Bountiful.”

Her famous husband, Miles Davis, was born in 1926. That would have him made seven years older than Tyson in the original thinking. But if she’s 88, Tyson–born as Cicely Richards in Harlem–was born in 1924. If so, she was around 50, not 40, at the time of “Sounder.” And she was two years older than Davis.

They do say age is just a number, and it’s all about how you feel. Last night I asked her if she got tired during the show. (It took at least an hour or more to get her over from the theater to the party, making us wonder if she hadn’t just gone to bed.) Tyson, eyes sparkling, said: “The character gets tired, but I don’t!” She added: “I’m tired now!”

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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