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Cicely Tyson Speaks Candidly about Her Relationship with Ex Miles Davis & the Day He Hit Her

Afouda Bamidele
Jan 20, 2021
11:20 P.M.
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Hollywood icon Cicely Tyson opened up about her tumultuous relationship with her ex-husband Miles Davis, recalling candidly the day he hit her during the first years of their union.


Cicely Tyson and Miles Davis rocked the 1970s entertainment scene as a power couple before their divorce in 1988. Now decades after their relationship, Tyson is opening up about their time together.

In a candid interview with The New York Times ahead of the release of her highly-anticipated memoir “Just As I Am,” the legendary actress spoke about her tumultuous relationship with the jazz trumpeter.

Actor Cicely Tyson speaks onstage at the screening of "Sounder" at Day 2 of the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival on April 27, 2018 | Photo: Getty Images


The interviewer asked the Hollywood star if it was difficult to write about her ex-husband as a substance addict who was unfaithful and abusive, and Tyson answered no, saying she depicted the musician just as he was.

She recalled that she never saw him do drugs, hit a person, or smoke in their marital home, and whenever she told people about it, they always said he respected her. However, the reverse was the case as Davis once hit her.

Cicely Tyson receives the Legends Award at MegaFest's International Faith & Family Film Festival at Omni Hotel on June 30, 2017 | Photo: Getty Images


She recounted that it was at the beginning of their relationship, and she was holding a knife on that fateful day. The “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” star said she threw the knife on the floor for a flimsy reason, and then Miles attacked her. She recalled:

“I hadn’t even been listening to what he was saying. And he came to me, yes he did, and he punched me in the chest. That’s the only time he ever struck me.”


The award-winning actress noted that no one had ever hit her before then, but Miles apologized for his actions. Tyson explained that she understood where the anger came from as the “All Blues” crooner had been deeply hurt.

[Tyson] was the first African American star of a TV drama in the show “East Side/West Side.”

Cicely Tyson at Tyler Perry Studios' grand opening gala at Tyler Perry Studios on October 05, 2019 | Photo: Getty Images


When asked if she still loved her ex-husband, Tyson said that she could know the soul of a man who was gentle as a lamb but covered it up with aggressive, ruthless behavior.

The New York native got married to the trumpeter on November 26, 1981. The former couple dated on and off for some years before deciding to walk down the aisle.

Cicely Tyson at the 47th AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Denzel Washington at Dolby Theatre on June 06, 2019 | Photo: Getty Images


They tied the knot in Bill Cosby’s home and spent most of their time in their home in Malibu, California until their split seven years later.

The three-time Emmy Award winner first broke out in 1963. She was the first African American star of a TV drama in the show “East Side/West Side.” However, her first significant role was in the 1972 movie, "Sounder” which earned her an Oscar nomination.


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