Cronyn, Hume 1911-2003

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CRONYN, Hume 1911-2003

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born July 18, 1911, in London, Ontario, Canada; died of prostate cancer June 15, 2003, in Fairfield, CT. Actor, director, and author. Cronyn was an award-winning actor often remembered for his performances with his second wife, actress Jessica Tandy. The son of a lawyer and politician father and a beer-brewing company heiress mother, he was expected by his parents to follow in his father's footsteps and study law. He obediently enrolled in law school at McGill University, but left before the end of the first year to act in a stock company. Lack of money compelled him to return to school, but with his mother's support he was able to enroll at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City in 1932. Earning a diploma two years later, he got a small part in the stage flop Hipper's Holiday (1934). His early stage work was in the touring comedies of George Abbott and included roles in Three Men on a Horse (1935-36) and Boy Meets Girl (1936). After several years of theater work on the East Coast, he won his first movie role, in Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943). Cronyn had by then already met Tandy, whom he married in 1942 after his first marriage ended in divorce. The couple did not do any collaborative work, however, until 1951's The Fourposter, which was a huge hit on Broadway. In the meantime, Cronyn acted in such films as Lifeboat (1944), The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), and People Will Talk (1951), as well as directing plays such as Tennessee Williams's Portrait of a Madonna (1946) and Now I Lay Me down to Sleep (1950), as well as Madam, Will You Walk? (1953). He was also busy during the 1940s and 1950s writing articles, short stories, and novel adaptations of Hitchcock's screenplays Rope (1948) and Under Capricorn (1949). Cronyn and Tandy next found success with the radio program The Marriage, which later saw a brief series adaptation in 1954. Subsequent collaborations included their celebrated play The Gin Game (1977), which toured the United States from 1978 to 1979, and the movies Foxfire (1987) and Cocoon (1985). Cronyn continued to direct plays and act in movies, television, and the theater into the 1990s. Some of his last movie credits include The Pelican Brief (1993), Marvin's Room (1996), and Angel Passing (1997), the television movies Sea People (1999) and Santa and Pete (1999), and the role of the Ghost of Christmas Past in a 1990 stage production of A Christmas Carol. During his lengthy career Cronyn acted in everything from lighthearted comedies to Shakespearian dramas. He earned numerous awards, including an Antoinette Perry Award and New York Drama Critics Poll Award in 1964 for playing Polonius in Hamlet, two Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards—one in 1972 for The Caine Mutiny Court Martial and one in 1979 for The Gin Game—and Emmy Awards for Age Old Friends (1990), Broadway Bound (1992), and To Dance with the White Dog (1994). He was also honored with a National Medal of Arts in 1990 and an Antoinette Perry Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994. After Tandy died in 1994, ending a fifty-two-year partnership, Cronyn married children's author Susan Cooper, with whom he had earlier written the play Foxfire (1980) and the television movie The Dollmaker (1985). He was also author of Bake My Brain (1993), Birdhouse Contributions (1993), and his 1991 autobiography A Terrible Liar: A Memoir (1991).



Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 17, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2000.


Chicago Tribune, June 17, 2003, section 1, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2003, p. B12.

New York Times, June 17, 2003, pp. A1, A24.

Times (London, England), June 18, 2003.

Washington Post, June 17, 2003, p. B7.