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Hume Cronyn 1911-2003

Country : London, Ontario, Canada
Profession : Actor
Date of birth : 1911-07-18
Date of death : 2003-06-15
Cause of Death : Prostate cancer

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Hume Blake Cronyn, OC (July 18, 1911 – June 15, 2003) was a Canadian actor of stage and screen, who enjoyed a long career, often appearing professionally alongside his second wife, Jessica Tandy.

Early life

Cronyn, one of five children, was born in London, Ontario, Canada, the son of Frances Amelia, an heiress of the brewing company of the same name, and her husband, Hume Blake Cronyn, Sr,, a businessman and a Member of Parliament for London (for whom the Hume Cronyn Memorial Observatory and asteroid (12050) Humecronyn are named). His paternal grandfather Verschoyle Cronyn was the son of the Right Reverend Benjamin Cronyn, an Anglican cleric of Anglo-Irish Protestant Ascendancy stock who served as first bishop of the Anglican diocese of Huron, and founder of 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. Benjamin Jr 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.

Hume 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, Mr. Cronyn went to Ridley College in St. Catherines, and McGill University in Montreal

Early in life, Cronyn was an amateur featherweight boxer, having the skills to even be nominated for the 1932 Canadian Olympic Boxing Team.


His family had hoped he would pursue a law career, but 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, 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.

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 — 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, Alfred Hitchcock Presents "Kill with Kindness" (1956) and Hawaii Five-O, "Over Fifty, Steal" (1970).

Cronyn and Tandy

Cronyn was married to actress Jessica Tandy from 1942 until her death in 1994, and appeared with her in many of their more memorable dramatic stage, film and TV outings, including The Green Years, The Gin Game, Foxfire, *batteries not included, Cocoon and Cocoon: The Return.

The couple starred in a short-lived (1953–1954) 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 - according to the Internet Accuracy Project - suffered a miscarriage and the project had to be shelved.

The couple had a daughter, Tandy, and a son, Christopher.

Personal life

Cronyn turned up on the infamous Hollywood blacklist for a spell - not because of his own political activity (Cronyn was long believed to shy away from political activism) - but because he had hired, often without caring about their politics, staff members who had already been blacklisted.

Cronyn re-married in July 1996, to author Susan Cooper. His 1991 autobiography was called A Terrible Liar.

In 1988, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. Cronyn was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in 1999. He died one month short of his 92nd birthday of prostate cancer at his home in Fairfield, Connecticut, after having lived for many years in nearby Pound Ridge, New York.



  • 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


  • Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
  • Phantom of the Opera (1943)
  • The Cross of Lorraine (1943)
  • Lifeboat (1944)
  • The Seventh Cross (1944)
  • Main Street After Dark (1945)
  • The Sailor Takes a Wife (1945)
  • A Letter for Evie (1945)
  • Ziegfeld Follies (1946)
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
  • The Green Years (1946)
  • The Beginning or the End (1947)
  • Brute Force (1947)
  • The Bride Goes Wild (1948)
  • Top o' the Morning (1949)
  • People Will Talk (1951)
  • Crowded Paradise (1956)
  • The Moon and Sixpence (1959) (television)
  • A Doll's House (1959) (television)
  • Juno and the Paycock (1960) (television)
  • Sunrise at Campobello (1960)
  • Cleopatra (1963)
  • Hamlet (1964)
  • The Arrangement (1969)
  • Gaily, Gaily (1969)
  • There Was a Crooked Man... (1970)
  • The Parallax View (1974)
  • Conrack (1974)
  • Rollover (1981)
  • Honky Tonk Freeway (1981)
  • The Gin Game (1981) (television)
  • The World According to Garp (1982)
  • Impulse (1984)
  • Brewster's Millions (1985)
  • Cocoon (1985)
  • *batteries not included (1987)
  • Foxfire (1987) (television)
  • Cocoon: The Return (1988)
  • Day One (1989) (television)
  • Age-Old Friends (1989) (television)
  • Christmas on Division Street (1991) (television)
  • Broadway Bound (1992) (television)
  • To Dance with the White Dog (1993) (television)
  • The Pelican Brief (1993)
  • Camilla (1994)
  • Marvin's Room (1996)
  • 12 Angry Men (1997) (television)
  • Alone (1997) (television)
  • Seasons of Love (1998) (television)
  • Sea People (1999) (television)
  • Santa and Pete (1999) (television)
  • Yesterday's Children (2000) (television)
  • Off Season (2001) (television)

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