Cicely Tyson’s Columbus connection: Local woman remembers screen legend

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Legendary actress Cicely Tyson died Jan. 28, 2021. One Columbus local remembers her legacy and connection to the Fountain City.

Carol Gertjegerdes was just a child when her mother, Ophelia DeVore Mitchell, opened a charm school in 1946 in New York City. Her charm school, Grace Del Marco Models, was a stepping stone for black women who wanted to be in the entertainment industry.

Actresses and models like Diahanna Carroll, Helen Williams and Cicely Tyson all got their start at at Grace Del Marco.

Tyson started as a model for the charm school before she became an award-winning actress.

In 1955 Tyson appeared on the cover of Ebony magazine wearing an afro, which was unusual for black women to do during that time period. The magazine cover gave Tyson the jumpstart she needed in her acting career.

Tyson booked her first movie role just from appearing on the cover of Ebony Magazine. Even though her career was taking off, Tyson remained humble.

“She always showed respect, I do remember that and that’s so nice because sometimes if people if they have some sort of publicity they try to ride above you. She never did that with us, she was always very friendly and very welcoming and I appreciated that,” Gertjegerdes said. See more at WRBL.

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