Hume Cronyn

For the early-20th-century Canadian politician and father of the actor, see Hume Cronyn (politician).
Hume Cronyn

Tandy and Cronyn at the 1988 Emmy Awards
Born Hume Blake Cronyn, Jr.
(1911-07-18)July 18, 1911
London, Ontario, Canada
Died June 15, 2003(2003-06-15) (aged 91)
Fairfield, Connecticut, US
Cause of death Prostate cancer
Occupation Actor
Years active 1934–2003
Spouse(s) Emily Woodruff (1934–36; divorced)[1]
Jessica Tandy (1942–94; her death)
Susan Cooper (1996–2003; his death)
Children Tandy
Awards Officer of the Order of Canada

Hume Blake Cronyn, Jr., OC (July 18, 1911 – June 15, 2003) was a Canadian-American actor of stage and screen, who enjoyed a long career, often appearing professionally alongside Jessica Tandy, his wife for over fifty years.[2]

Early life

Cronyn, one of five children, was born in London, Ontario, Canada. His father, Hume Blake Cronyn, Sr., was a businessman and a Member of Parliament for London (after whom the Hume Cronyn Memorial Observatory at the University of Western Ontario and asteroid (12050) Humecronyn are named). His mother, Frances Amelia (née Labatt), was an heiress of the brewing company of the same name. His paternal grandfather, Verschoyle Cronyn, was the son of the Right Reverend Benjamin Cronyn, an Anglican cleric of the Anglo-Irish Protestant Ascendancy, who served as first bishop of the Anglican diocese of Huron and founded Huron College, from which grew the University of Western Ontario.

His great-uncle, Benjamin, Jr., was both a prominent citizen and early mayor of London, Ontario, but was later indicted for fraud and fled to Vermont; during his tenure in London he built a mansion called Oakwood, which currently serves as the head office of the Info-Tech Research Group. Cronyn was also a cousin of Canadian-born theater producer, Robert Whitehead, and a first cousin of the Canadian-British artist Hugh Verschoyle Cronyn GM (1905–1996).

Cronyn was the first Elmwood School boarder (at the time Elmwood was called Rockliffe Preparatory School) and boarded at Elmwood between 1917 and 1921. After leaving Elmwood, Cronyn went to Ridley College in St. Catharine's, and McGill University in Montreal, where he became a member of The Kappa Alpha Society. Early in life, Cronyn was an amateur featherweight boxer, having the skills to be nominated for Canada's 1932 Olympic Boxing team.


Cronyn in Lifeboat, 1944

Subsequent to graduating from Ridley College, Cronyn switched majors, from pre-law to drama, while attending McGill University, and continued his acting studies thereafter, under Max Reinhardt and at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. In 1934, the same year he joined The Lambs, he made his Broadway debut as a janitor in Hipper's Holiday and became known for his versatility, playing a number of different roles on stage. He won a Drama Desk Special Award in 1986. In 1990, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.[3]

His first Hollywood film was Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943). He later appeared in Hitchcock's Lifeboat (1944) and worked on the screenplays of Rope (1948) and Under Capricorn (1949). He was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor for his performance in The Seventh Cross (1944) and won a Tony Award for his performance as Polonius opposite Richard Burton's Hamlet (1964). Cronyn bought the screenplay What Nancy Wanted from Norma Barzman, who was later blacklisted with her husband Ben Barzman, with the idea of producing the film and starring Tandy. However, he sold the screenplay to RKO which later filmed it as The Locket (1946). Cronyn also made appearances in television, The Barbara Stanwyck Show, the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "Kill With Kindness" (1956) and Hawaii Five-O episodes "Over Fifty, Steal" (1970) and "Odd Man In" (1971).[4]

In 1990 he won an Emmy award for his role in the TV Movie Age Old Friends.[5]

Cronyn and Tandy

Cronyn married the actress Jessica Tandy in 1942, and appeared with her in many of their more memorable dramatic stage, film and television outings, including The Green Years (1946), The Seventh Cross (1944), The Gin Game (1977), Foxfire (1982), *batteries not included (1987), Cocoon (1985), Cocoon: The Return (1988), and Camilla (1994).

The couple starred in a short-lived (19531954) radio series, The Marriage (based on their earlier Broadway play, The Fourposter), playing New York attorney Ben Marriott and his wife, former fashion buyer Liz, struggling with her switch to domestic life and their raising an awkward teenage daughter (future soap opera star Denise Alexander). The show was scheduled to move from radio to television, with Cronyn producing as well as acting in the show. However, Tandy suffered a miscarriage and the show's debut was delayed a week. The series premiered in July 1954 to "warm and enthusiastic reviews"; eight episodes were aired.[6]

Personal life

The couple had a daughter, Tandy, and a son, Christopher. Cronyn and Tandy lived in the Bahamas, then at a lakeside estate in Pound Ridge, New York, and, finally, in Easton, Connecticut.[7] Jessica Tandy died in 1994, aged 85, from ovarian cancer.

After he was widowed, Cronyn married author/playwright Susan Cooper (with whom he had co-written Foxfire) in July 1996. His 1991 autobiography was titled A Terrible Liar (ISBN 0-688-12844-0). He died on June 15, 2003, one month before his 92nd birthday.


In 1979, Cronyn was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.[8][9] On July 11, 1988 he was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada, giving him the Post Nominal Letters "OC" for Life.[10]

Cronyn was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in 1999.[11][12] He also received the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal in 1992 and the Canadian version of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.[13]

He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree (LLD) by the University of Western Ontario on October 26, 1974. His wife, Jessica Tandy, was given the same degree on the same day.[14]



Year Title Role Notes
1943 Shadow of a Doubt Herbie Hawkins
1943 Phantom of the Opera Gerard
1943 The Cross of Lorraine Duval
1944 Lifeboat Stanley 'Sparks' Garrett
1944 The Seventh Cross Paul Roeder Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1945 Main Street After Dark Keller
1945 The Sailor Takes a Wife Freddie Potts
1945 A Letter for Evie John Phineas McPherson
1946 Ziegfeld Follies Monty
1946 The Postman Always Rings Twice Arthur Keats
1946 The Green Years Papa Leckie
1947 The Beginning or the End Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer
1947 Brute Force Capt. Munsey
1948 The Bride Goes Wild John McGrath
1949 Top o' the Morning Hughie Devine
1951 People Will Talk Prof. Rodney Elwell
1956 Crowded Paradise George Heath
1960 Sunrise at Campobello Louis Howe
1963 Cleopatra Sosigenes
1964 Richard Burton's Hamlet Polonius
1969 The Arrangement Arthur Houghton
1969 Gaily, Gaily Tom Grogan
1970 There Was a Crooked Man... Dudley Whinner
1974 The Parallax View Bill Rintels
1974 Conrack Mr. Skeffington
1981 Rollover Maxwell Emery
1981 Honky Tonk Freeway Sherm
1982 The World According to Garp Mr. Fields
1984 Impulse Dr. Carr
1985 Brewster's Millions Rupert Horn
1985 Cocoon Joe Finley Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Actor
1987 *batteries not included Frank Riley
1988 Cocoon: The Return Joe Finley Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Actor
1993 The Pelican Brief Justice Rosenberg
1994 Camilla Ewald
1996 Marvin's Room Marvin Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2001 Off Season Sam Clausner


Year Title Role Notes
1949 The Ford Theatre Hour Hugo Barnstead Episode: "Once Sunday Afternoon"
1949 Suspense Dr. Violet Episode: "Dr. Violet"
1950 The Ford Theatre Hour Harry Binion Episode: "Room Service"
1950 Suspense Sig 2 episodes
1950 Pulitzer Prize Playhouse Charles Ponzi Episode: "The Ponzi Story"
1950 The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse N/A Episode: "The Reluctant Landlord"
1953 Omnibus Bartender Episode: "Glory in the Flower"
1954 The Motorola Television Hour Anthony Updyke Episode: "The Family Man"
1954 The Marriage Ben Marriott 8 episodes
1955 Producers' Showcase Michael Episode: "The Fourposter"
1955 Omnibus Harold 'Mitch' Mitchell Episode: "Advice to Bathers"
1955 The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse Ben Marriott Episode: "Christmas 'til Closing"
1956 The United States Steel Hour Priam Farll Episode: "The Great Adventure"
1956 Climax! Reverend Mr. Muldoon Episode: "The Fifth Wheel"
1956 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Fitzhugh Oldham Episode: "Kill with Kindness"
1958 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Henry Daw Episode: "The Impromptu Murder"
1959 The Moon and Sixpence Dirk Stroeve Television film
1959 A Doll's House Nils Krogstad Television film
1960 Juno and the Paycock N/A Television film
1970–1971 Hawaii Five-O Lewis Avery Filer 2 episodes
1981 The Gin Game Weller Martin Television film
1987 Foxfire Hector Nations Television film
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1989 Day One James F. Byrnes Television film
1989 Age-Old Friends John Cooper Television film
CableACE Award for Best Actor in a Movie or Miniseries
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1991 Christmas on Division Street Cleveland Meriwether Television film
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1992 Broadway Bound Ben Television film
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
1993 To Dance with the White Dog Robert Samuel Peek Television film
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1997 12 Angry Men Juror #9 Television film
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
1997 Alone John Webb Television film
1998 Seasons of Love Lonzo Television film
1999 Sea People Mr. John McRae Television film
1999 Santa and Pete Saint Nick Television film
2000 Yesterday's Children Old Sunny Sutton Television film


  • Hipper's Holiday - 1934
  • High Tor - 1937
  • There's Always a Breeze - 1938
  • Escape This Night - 1938
  • Off to Buffalo - 1939
  • Three Sisters - 1939
  • The Weak Link - 1940
  • Retreat to Pleasure - 1940
  • Mr. Big - 1941
  • Portrait of a Madonna - 1946 (Director)
  • The Survivors - 1948
  • Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep - 1950
  • Hilda Crane - 1950
  • The Little Blue Light - 1951
  • The Fourposter - 1951

  • The Honeys - 1955
  • A Day By The Sea - 1955
  • The Egghead - 1957
  • The Man in the Dog Suit - 1958
  • Triple Play - 1959
  • Big Fish, Little Fish - 1961
  • Hamlet - 1964 (Tony Award for role of Polonius)
  • The Physicists - 1964
  • Slow Dance on the Killing Ground - 1964
  • A Delicate Balance - 1966
  • Promenade, All! - 1972
  • Noël Coward in Two Keys - 1974
  • The Gin Game - 1977 (performed, produced)
  • Foxfire - 1982 (performed, wrote play and lyrics)
  • The Petition - 1986

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1946 Suspense The One Who Got Away[15]
1952 Philip Morris Playhouse One Sunday Afternoon[16]


  1. "Hume Cronyn". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  2. Fairfield, Connecticut (June 18, 2003). "Hume Cronyn dead aged 91". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
  3. "Lifetime Honors: National Medal of Arts". Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  4. Cronyn-Tandy Collection at the Library of Congress
  5. The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. 2013. p. 1440. ISBN 0-345-45542-8.
  6. Cronyn, Hume (1991). Terrible Liar. New York: William Morrow and Company. pp. 254–256. ISBN 0688128440.
  7. Gussow, Mel. "AT HOME WITH: Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy; The Driven Mr. and Mrs. Daisy". The New York Times. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  8. "Overview for Hume Cronyn". Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  9. "American Theatre Hall of Fame official website". Theater Hall of Fame. 2015-11-23. Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  10. "The Governor General of Canada > Find a Recipient". Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  11. "Canada's Walk of Fame—Hume Cronyn". Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  12. "Hume Cronyn profile". Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  13. "The Governor General of Canada > Find a Recipient". Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  14. "The University of Western Ontario: Honorary Degrees Awarded, 1881-present" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  15. "Suspense". Harrisburg Telegraph. November 9, 1946. p. 19. Retrieved September 15, 2015 via
  16. Kirby, Walter (February 24, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 38. Retrieved May 28, 2015 via
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