Actress Cicely Tyson had a premonition of pal Ray Charles' death last week (10JUN04) when she awoke to the sound of the crooner singing AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL.

Tyson stunned mourners at Charles' funeral in Los Angeles today (18JUN04) with a tearful eulogy, during which she recalled how she knew her friend had died.

She explained, "On the morning of the 10th, Thursday, I was awakened by his rendition of America The Beautiful.

"I sat up in bed and I thought, 'I've gotta call to see how he's doing.' I put the call through but I couldn't get anyone to answer the phone.

"He (Charles) had given me, early this year, an image of himself in the form of a slot machine. It was in a box and the box toppled over and I looked at it and said, 'Ray, you're upside down.' Two hours later I received the call."

The FRIED GREEN TOMATOES AT THE WHISTLE STOP CAFE star ended her tribute to the blind singer by stating, "Through his darkness, he enlightened and brightened our lives."

18/06/2004 19:35