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Phyllis Marie Cicero (July 1, 1959 - February 12, 2021) was an American actress who was best known for her role as Stella the Storyteller on the television show, Barney & Friends. She portrayed the role of Stella the Storyteller from seasons three to season six of the show with a surprise comeback in The Best of Barney (2008). She also played all twelve of Stella's cousins in It's Time for Counting (1998).

Early Life

Phyllis Cicero was born in Tyler, Smith County, Texas to her mother, Dorothy Jean Cicero, and her father, Samuel T. Cicero. She was one of five children.[1]


Phyllis Cicero graduated from John Tyler High School in 1977.[2] She then attended The University of Texas at Austin from 1977-1979, attaining her degree in theatrical arts. She also attended Columbia University in the City of New York from 1981-1983 attaining her degree in theatre.[3][4]



Phyllis Cicero began her career in the theater appearing in stage productions of "Cabin in the Sky", "Porgy and Bess", and "A Raisin in the Sun". Relocating to Los Angeles, California, in the early 1990s, she began a secondary career as a character actress in film appearing in over 30 features; often typecast as mothers, wives, best friends, kindly neighbors, doctors, nurses, secretaries, educators, and businesswoman. she was also a theatrical instructor for the Tyler Civic Theater.


During Phyllis Cicero's career, she was state president of the Future Homemakers of Americas, a secretary for the National Honor Society, she served as the team-board vice-president for JCPenney, and she was an honorary chairwoman with the Texas State Democratic Committee.


Phyllis Cicero passed away on February 12th 2021 due to complications from liver cancer.[4]


During the reception at the Tyler Public Library, Gloria Washington, executive director of the Texas African American Museum in Tyler, read a proclamation from Tyler Mayor Martin Heines declaring Sept. 16 as Phyllis Cicero Day to honor her legacy and accomplishments.[2]

Personal Life

Phyllis Cicero was a regular parishioner of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.[4]



Year Title Role Notes
1995–2000 Barney & Friends Stella the Storyteller 23 episodes, 4 home videos (1995-2000, 2008)
1996-2000 Walker, Texas Ranger Nina Woods / Kimberly Johnson / Karen Haskell
1999 King of the World Mrs. Geraldine Liston TV movie
2011 Chase Judge Appeared in the episode, "Narco: Part 1"
2018 Queen of the South Devon's Mother Appeared in the episode, "El Juicio"


Year Title Role Notes
1992 Steele's Law Rose Holly
1993 Hexed' Officer Novak
1999 King of the World Mrs. Geraldine Liston TV movie
1994 Stealin' Home Ala
1997 Night Vision Pathologist
1997 Finding North Janice
2004 The Beautiful Country Receptionist
2020 Miss Juneteenth Mrs. Washington


Year Title Role Notes
1993 Weekend of Our Discontent Dr. Grace Shafita
1998 Yello Dino's Tricky People Edna Brown
2015 Melville Mom
2019 I Can Do All Things Camille
2020 Destiny Deferred Counselor
Post-Production Garden of Lies Mother Sadie





  • Phyllis Cicero appeared in the short video, Yello Dino's Tricky People, alongside fellow Barney actor Lucien Douglas. It was also directed and written by Fred Holmes who directed and wrote for Barney & Friends.
  • Phyllis Cicero's son, Dorian, died two years prior before her death, in January 2019.