Actor Hume Cronyn Dead at 91; Starred With Wife Jessica Tandy in Plays and Films

Obituaries   Actor Hume Cronyn Dead at 91; Starred With Wife Jessica Tandy in Plays and Films Hume Cronyn, a two-time Tony Award winner who often acted with his wife, the late Jessica Tandy, died of cancer June 15 at his home in Fairfield, CT.
Hume Cronyn
Hume Cronyn

Mr. Cronyn, 91, a stage and film actor, got a boost of international attention late in his career when he starred with his wife in the movie "Cocoon" and its sequel. He also had a famous character turns in Alfred Hitchcock's "Lifeboat" and "Rope."

But the stage was his true home, and he acted on Broadway, in London, in regional theatre, as well as his native Canada. His work included playing the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, where he was the first major actor hired for that company's first season. He made his last public appearance May 5 at the Guthrie to celebrate the theatre's 40th anniversary.

Like the Lunts in an earlier time, Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn were considered the first couple of the American stage. The Gin Game (1978) offered what might be their best known turns in recent memory, as a couple of seniors sparring on the porch of an old folks home. They were both Tony-nommed for the play, but Tandy won. In 1994, they received a special Tony Award for lifetime achievement.

In 1964, Mr. Cronyn brought home a Tony for playing Polonius to Richard Burton's Hamlet.

The London, Ontario-born actor made his professional debut with Cochran's Stock Company in Up Pops the Devil at the National Theatre in Washington, DC, in 1931. He worked with other troupes and would make his Broadway debut as a janitor and understudy to Burgess Meredith in Hipper's Holiday in 1934. Mr. Cronyn was also a director, a producer and a playwright, and penned an autobiography, "A Terrible Liar." He was Academy Award-nominated for "The Seventh Cross" in 1944.

His Tony nominations include two for producing (Slow Dance on the Killing Ground and The Gin Game) and three for Leading Actor in a Play: 1986's The Petition, 1967's A Delicate Balance and 1961's Big Fish, Little Fish.

Ms. Tandy died in 1994. The couple were married 52 years, and among their many projects together, the played a married couple in The Fourposter, which was later turned into the musical, I Do! I Do!

In his early years, Mr. Cronyn studied at Canada's McGill University and appeared in plays there. He would take classes in New York and abroad and try to gather experience anywhere he could. He would return to Canada to play its most prestigious theatre institution. the Stratford Festival.

After Tandy died, Mr. Cronyn married Susan Cooper, a children's book writer, in 1996. Mr. Cronyn and Cooper also wrote plays (Foxfire, The Dollmaker) together. Survivors include Cooper, and Mr. Cronyn's three children with Tandy: Son Christopher and daughters Tandy Cronyn (herself a respected actress) and Susan Tettemer. Grandchildren and great grandchildren also survive, as do two stepchildren, Jonathan Grant and Kate Glennon, according to The New York Times.

Mr. Cronyn's first marriage, to Emily Woodruff, ended in divorce.