Jessie Alice Tandy
7 June 1909
|Died||11 September 1994 (aged 85)|
Easton, Connecticut, U.S.
(m. 1932; div. 1940)
Jessie Alice Tandy (7 June 1909 – 11 September 1994) was a British-American actress. Tandy appeared in over 100 stage productions and had more than 60 roles in film and TV, receiving an Academy Award, four Tony Awards, a BAFTA, a Golden Globe Award, and a Primetime Emmy Award. She acted as Blanche DuBois in the original Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948. Her films included Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds and The Gin Game. At 80, she became the oldest actress to receive the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Driving Miss Daisy.
The youngest of three siblings, Tandy was born in Geldeston Road in Hackney, London to Harry Tandy and his wife, Jessie Helen Horspool. Her mother was from a large fenland family in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, and the head of a school for mentally handicapped children, and her father was a travelling salesman for a rope manufacturer. She was educated at Dame Alice Owen's School in Islington.
Born in London, she was 18 when she made her professional debut on the London stage in 1927. During the 1930s, she acted in many plays in London's West End, playing Ophelia (opposite John Gielgud's legendary Hamlet) and Katherine (opposite Laurence Olivier's Henry V).
She entered films in Britain, but after her marriage to Jack Hawkins failed, she moved to the United States hoping to find better roles. During her time as a leading actress on the stage in London she often had to fight for roles over her two rivals, Peggy Ashcroft and Celia Johnson. In 1942, she married Hume Cronyn and over the following years played supporting roles in several Hollywood films. Tandy became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1952.
Like many stage actors, Tandy also worked in radio. Among other programs, she was a regular on Mandrake the Magician (as Princess Nada), and then with husband Hume Cronyn in The Marriage which ran on radio from 1953 to 1954, and then segued onto television.
She made her American film debut in The Seventh Cross (1944). She had supporting appearances in The Valley of Decision (1945), The Green Years (1946, as Cronyn's daughter), Dragonwyck (1946) starring Gene Tierney and Vincent Price and Forever Amber (1947). She appeared as the insomniac murderess in A Woman's Vengeance (1948), a film-noir adapted by Aldous Huxley from his short story "The Gioconda Smile".
Over the next three decades, her film career continued sporadically while she found better roles on the stage. Her roles during this time included The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951) opposite James Mason, The Light in the Forest (1958), and a role as a domineering mother in Alfred Hitchcock's film, The Birds (1963).
On Broadway, she won a Tony Award for her performance as Blanche Dubois in the original Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948. After this (she lost the film role to actress Vivien Leigh), she concentrated on the stage. In 1976, she and Cronyn joined the acting company of the Stratford Festival, and returned in 1980 to debut Cronyn's play Foxfire. In 1977, she earned her second Tony Award, for her performance (with Cronyn) in The Gin Game and her third Tony in 1982 for her performance, again with Cronyn, in Foxfire.
The beginning of the 1980s saw a resurgence in her film career, with character roles in The World According to Garp, Best Friends, Still of the Night (all 1982) and The Bostonians (1984). She and Cronyn were now working together more regularly on stage and television, including the films Cocoon (1985), *batteries not included (1987) and Cocoon: The Return (1988) and the Emmy Award winning television film Foxfire (1987, recreating her Tony winning Broadway role).
She received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her work in the grassroots hit Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) and co-starred in The Story Lady (1991 TV film, with her daughter Tandy Cronyn), Used People (1992, as Shirley MacLaine's mother), television film To Dance with the White Dog (1993, with Cronyn), Camilla (1994, with Cronyn). Nobody's Fool (1994) proved to be her last performance, at the age of 84.
- 1979 – Induction into the American Theatre Hall of Fame
- 1979 – Sarah Siddons Award Chicago theatre
- 1986 – Drama Desk Special Award
- 1986 – Kennedy Center Honors Recipient.
- 1990 – National Medal of Arts
- 1991 – Women in Film Crystal Award
- 1994 – Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement shared with her husband, Hume Cronyn
In 1932 Tandy married English actor Jack Hawkins and together they had a daughter, Susan Hawkins. Susan became an actress and was the daughter-in-law of John Moynihan Tettemer, a former Passionist monk who authored I Was a Monk: The Autobiography of John Tettemer, and was cast in small roles in Lost Horizon and Meet John Doe. After Tandy and Hawkins divorced in 1940, she married her second husband, Canadian actor Hume Cronyn, in 1942. Prior to moving to Connecticut, she lived with Cronyn for many years in nearby Pound Ridge, New York, and they remained together until her death in 1994. They had two children, daughter Tandy Cronyn, an actress who would co-star with her mother in the TV film The Story Lady, and son Christopher Cronyn.
In 1990, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and she also suffered from angina and glaucoma. Despite her illnesses and age she continued working. On 11 September 1994 she died at home in Easton, Connecticut, at the age of 85.
U.S. stage credits
|1930||The Matriarch||Toni Rakonitz|
|1930||The Last Enemy||Cynthia Perry|
|1938||Time and the Conways||Kay|
|1939||The White Steed||Nora Fintry|
|1940||Jupiter Laughs||Dr. Mary Murray|
|1941||Anne of England||Abigail Hill|
|1942||Yesterday's Magic||daughter Cattrin|
|1947||A Streetcar Named Desire||Blanche DuBois||Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play|
|1950||Hilda Crane||Hilda Crane|
|1951||Madam, Will You Walk||Mary Doyle|
|1955||The Man in the Dog Suit||Martha Walling|
|1959||Triple Play||In Bedtime Story: Angela Nightingale|
|1959||Five Finger Exercise||Louise Harrington|
|1964||The Physicists||Fraulein Doktor Mathilde von Zahnd|
|1966||A Delicate Balance||Agnes|
|1970||Camino Real||Marguerite Gautier|
|1971||All Over||The Wife|
|1972||Not I||Mouth||Obie Award for Best Actress|
|1974||Noël Coward in Two Keys||In A Song at Twilight: Hilde Latymer
In Come Into the Garden, Maud: Anna Mary Conklin
|1977||The Gin Game||Fonsia Dorsey||Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play|
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play
|1981||Rose||Mother||Nominated—Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play|
Nominated—Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
|1982||Foxfire||Annie Nations||Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play|
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play
|1983||The Glass Menagerie||Amanda Wingfield|
|1986||The Petition||Lady Elizabeth Milne||Nominated—Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play|
*Re-issued on DVD as The Christmas Story Lady
|1956||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Edwina Freel||Episode: "Toby"|
|1957||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Julia Lester||Episode: "The Glass Eye"|
|1958||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Laura Bowlby||Episode: "The Canary Sedan"|
|1994||ER||Mrs Backer||Episode: "Going Home"|
- Jessica Tandy's family to unveil plaque to commemorate star's Hackney birthplace 19 November 1998[permanent dead link]; accessed 10 May 2007
- The Academy Awards: A Look At Jessica Tandy, oup.com, February 2007.
- Kelly, Terence Living with Japanese Kellan Press 1977, p. 136; ISBN 0953019306 with photo
- Berger, Marilyn (12 September 1994). "Jessica Tandy, a Patrician Star Of Theater and Film, Dies at 85". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
- At Home with Cronyn and Tandy New York Times Retrieved 12 September 2016
- Cronyn, Hume (1991). Terrible Liar. New York: William Morrow and Company. p. 159. ISBN 0688128440.
- Cronyn, Hume (1991). Terrible Liar. New York: William Morrow and Company. pp. 253–54. ISBN 0688128440.
- "Jessica Tandy acting credits". Stratford Festival Archives. Archived from the original on 31 May 2019. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
- Blackadar, Bruce (10 May 1980). "Hume Cronyn turns playwright with Foxfire". Toronto Star. p. F1.
- "Miss Daisy, Jessica Tandy Win Top Oscars". Chicago Tribune. 27 March 1990. Retrieved 7 November 2010.
- "Beautiful Through the Years". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
- Notes for Jessica Tandy, tcm.com; accessed 11 July 2016.
- "Past Recipients: Crystal Award". Women In Film. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
- Champlin, Charles (18 June 1995). "Life After Jessie : For 52 years, Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy shared the love story of the century. Her death last year devastated him, but his love lives on". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
- "John Tettemer," in "AFI Catalog." Los Angeles, California: American Film Institute, accessed 5 May 2018.
- Berger, Marilyn. "Jessica Tandy, a Patrician Star Of Theater and Film, Dies at 85". The NY Times on the Web. The NY Times Co. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
- Shipman, David. "Obituary: Jessica Tandy". The Independent. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
- Times Staff Writer. "From the Archives: Jessica Tandy, Star of Stage, Screen and TV, Dies at 85". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
- Educational Theatre Journal, Vol. 25, No. 1 (Mar. 1973), pp. 102–104
- "Berlinale: 1990 Prize Winners". berlinale.de (in German). Retrieved 17 March 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jessica Tandy.|
- Jessica Tandy at Find a Grave
- Jessica Tandy at the Internet Broadway Database
- Jessica Tandy at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Jessica Tandy at IMDb
- Movie Magazine International Tribute
- Lifetime Honors – National Medal of Arts
- Obituary—The New York Times, 12 September 1994
- Katharine Cronyn Harley fonds (R11163) at Library and Archives Canada. The fonds includes many records related to Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn.