Both on and off-screen, Cicely Tyson was a true legend. The actress, who died at the age of 96 on January 28, 2021, enjoyed an incredibly successful career as an actress and trailblazer. From her Academy Honorary Award in 2018, to being a 5-time Emmy nominee for playing Viola Davis‘ mother on How To Get Away With Murder, Cicely made quite the impact in Hollywood. She even dabbled in Broadway, and snagged the Best Actress in a Play award for The Trip to Bountiful.
In addition to entertainment awards, Cicely was named the Kennedy Center honoree in 2015, and in 2016, she was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But Cicely’s greatest accomplishment in life was being a mother to her daughter Joan, who is now 78. Here’s all you need to know about Joan, including the special relationship she had with her legendary mother.
Who Is Joan Tyson?
For starters, Joan Tyson is not the real name of Cicely’s daughter. Cicely has kept her child out of the spotlight, and so she referred to her daughter as “Joan” in her memoir Just As I Am, which was published just days before the Sounder actress passed away. The memoir was also dedicated to Joan, with Cicely writing that her daughter was “the one who has paid the greatest price for this gift to all.” She also signed the dedication, “Love, Mom,” according to PEOPLE.
Cicely gave birth to Joan in February 1943 when she was 18 years old. Joan’s father was Kenneth Franklin, whom Cicely married on December 27, 1942. The couple had a turbulent marriage, and when Joan turned 2, Cicely took her daughter, left Kenneth and filed for divorce. “Ahead of my departure, I did not tell Kenneth I was leaving the marriage,” Cicely said in her memoir, per Cheat Sheet. “I knew it would shatter him, and it did.” Cicely finalized her divorced from Kenneth in 1956, and pursued her career in acting while raising Joan alone. She eventually got married once more to Miles Davis from 1981 to 1989.
What Was Joan’s Relationship With Her Mother?
While Cicely kept Joan out of the public eye, the actress’s memoir indicates that she had a strong relationship with her only child. When Cicely was starting off in the industry, she worked several jobs to support her daughter. Per reports, Cicely said in her memoir that she dreamed to give Joan — whom she referred to as “my beloved princess — an “education superior to my own,” PEOPLE reported.
Unfortunately, the two had to spend a few years apart when Cicely sent Joan to a boarding school miles away from her home in New York City so that Cicely could focus on her career. That decision, Cicely reportedly wrote in her memoir, was painful for the mom of one. “Joan felt, as a child, that she had to share me with the world,” she wrote. “I give her now, in adulthood, what my heart has always longed to bestow — my undivided focus, along with the full measure of her privacy.”
However, Cicely clarified in her memoir that she would not take back her decision to send Joan away. “I do not regret that I chose to earn a living in the manner in which I did, or that I arranged for Joan to attend school in a world miles north of mine,” Cicely wrote, per PEOPLE. “But I do mourn that my child, during the years she hungered to have me close, felt my absence so profoundly.”
What Is Joan Tyson Currently Doing?
Joan grew up in a very private life at her mom’s wishes, and it appears that she’s continued to do so. She does not seem to be on social media, and she did not release a public statement after her mother’s death. However, it’s more than likely she attended Cicely’s funeral, which took place on February 16, 2021 at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, with guests including Tyler Perry, Lenny Kravtiz (Cicely’s godson), and Bill and Hillary Clinton, according to USA Today.
Overall, most of what is known about Joan comes from Cicely’s memoir. In it, Cicely indicated that the pair were still extremely close up to Cicely’s passing. She vowed to “continue to work on our relationship, as fragile as it is precious,” with Joan until her death in the memoir, per reports. Joan should definitely be proud of the amazing woman that Cicely was, and the sacrifices she made to raise her.