Hume Cronyn

Hume Cronyn

His role in 'The Postman Always Rings Twice' (1946)
Hume Cronyn was 19 and a first-year dropout from McGill University in 1930 when he told his mother and two older brothers that he wanted to be an actor. A brother, 18 years his senior, bluntly asked, ?How many years do you think you can afford to waste?? Angry and hurt, Hume stormed out of the family estate at London, Ontario, but on his return his mother had a proposal: go to McGill for another year, and ?if at the end of that time you still wish to go into the theatre, I will see to it that you go to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, England, or the American Academy in New York as you choose.?Even before entering the American Academy in 1932, Cronyn made his professional stage debut in Washington after appearing in plays at McGill and the Montreal Repertory Theatre in 1930 and ?31 respectively. More than 65 years later, the list of stage plays, films, and TV appearances that he has performed in or directed and the honours received takes up seven pages in his 1991 memoir, A Terrible Liar, titled so because, as he wrote, ?... memory can be a judicious editor, omitting trial and tribulation. It can also be a terrible liar....?Other writers and critics, however, have confirmed his outstanding contribution as actor, director, producer, writer, and teacher. One wrote, ?Although he is frequently cast in the role of an old man, Hume Cronyn is not a ?type? character; his talents are too protean to be limited to any one kind of role.? Walcott Gibbs described his performance in The Honeys as ?astonishingly resourceful,? and Brooks Atkinson wrote that he was brilliant in the role of Julian in A Day by the Sea.Cronyn, however, is best-known for his appearances with his British-born wife, Jessica Tandy, who died in 1995. Married 53 years, they appeared together so often on stage, screen, radio, and television that one book on outstanding actors wrote their biographies as a single article. It cited their performances in such hits as The Fourposter and The Gin Game.Most of the time they received rave reviews but ran afoul of Brooks Atkinson for The Man in the Dog Suit. When Cronyn wrote his one and only letter to a critic to complain, Atkinson responded, ?Let me say that I am sorry to have given you a bad time. But since I know the quality of the work that you and Jessica do, I could not help brooding in the theatre over the problem presented by a play I think is below your standards of artistic taste.?After graduating from the New York Academy in 1934, Cronyn spent nearly ten years on stage before Alfred Hitchcock cast him in Shadow of a Doubt for his first movie role. Cronyn's performance was described in the New York Times as ?a modest comic masterpiece? and other movies quickly followed. These included Phantom of the Opera, The Cross of Lorraine, and The Seventh Cross which won him an Academy Award nomination in 1944 as best supporting actor. ?I didn?t win,? Cronyn recalls in his memoir. ?Barry Fitzgerald did for a beautiful job in Going My Way.?While life in Hollywood ?was full of unexpected joys,? Cronyn returned to stage work in 1948. His first play lasted eight performances. In 1949, he jumped at the opportunity to play Hamlet with a touring company and humorously commented on one media headline that read, ?Hamlet on the Half Shell.? ?While somewhat obscure I don?t think it can be described as congratulatory.? In 1964, however, playing the role of Polonius with Richard Burton as Hamlet, Cronyn won a Tony Award.By then he had also starred in the 1963 opening season of the Tyrone Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis playing in such roles as Harpagon in Moli?re's The Miser, which Life Magazine called ?easily the most entertaining U.S. production of Moli?re ever given? and Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman with Jessica playing his wife, Linda.Early in 1965, they were summoned to the White House to entertain President and Lady Bird Johnson along with members of the Cabinet, the Supreme Court, and a number of editors, business leaders, and university presidents. Later that year they returned to the Guthrie Theater to perform in Richard III and The Cherry Orchard. In 1969 Ontario's Stratford Festival audiences saw Cronyn in Hadrian VII, and he returned with Jessica in 1976 for roles in The Merchant of Venice and A Midsummer Night's Dream. They also went to Cronyn's native city of London to perform in The Many Faces of Love.In 1978, Cronyn coproduced The Gin Game which won a Pulitzer Prize and went on tour in the United States. It played in Toronto before going to London, England, and the USSR until December 1979. He then played Hector Nations in Foxfire, a play he co-authored with Susan Cooper and performed with his wife Jessica at the Stratford Festival, 1981, and at the Ethel Barrymore Theater in New York from November to May 1982.Sandwiched between long-running stage plays and tours were movies and television productions. In 1963, he spent months in Italy playing Sosignes in Cleopatra starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor but most of his performance ended on the cutting-room floor. Canadian Norman Jewison directed Cronyn in Gaily, Gaily in 1968. Films made in the 1970s and ?80s included The Parallax View, Garp, Impulse, Cocoon, and Cocoon: The Return. His first appearance in television was on NBC in 1939; he produced and directed Portrait of a Madonna starring Jessica in 1948 and both a radio and television series of The Marriage with Jessica in 1953-54. On seven occasions he performed live in Omnibus, the acclaimed TV series. He continued making TV productions mainly with Jessica until shortly before her death.Cronyn, a recipient of the Order of Canada, has won numerous awards in his 65-year career. He was nominated six times for a Tony and won it in 1964 for his role as Polonius. He received the New York Drama League's Delia Austria medal for his performance as Jimmie Luton in Big Fish, Little Fish, The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for best actor as Captain Queeg in Caine Mutiny Court Martial, the Straw Hat award for best director in the 1972 production of Promenade All, and an Obie Award for his Off-Broadway performance in Krapp's Last Tape.He and his wife Jessica won awards for The Gin Game, and among the many other tributes paid to them was one by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, in 1989, for 50 years of television performances.In 1979, Hume Cronyn was elected to the Theater Hall of Fame, won honours from the National Press Club, and the Commonwealth Award for Dramatic Arts in 1983, and was a co-winner, with Susan Cooper, of the 1985 Christopher Award and Writers Guild Award for the screenplay, Dollmaker, an ABC teleplay. In 1990, he won an Emmy for the TV miniseries called Age-Old Friends and returned to the White House to receive the National Medal of Arts award from President George Bush for 'special recognition of outstanding contribution to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States.Source:
To go on being an actor, you need sheer animal energy. If you can't restock your energy, you have to hide your lack of it.More Hume Cronyn quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
I don't mind playing absolute bastards... I just don't want to play the grouch.More Hume Cronyn quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
The whole business of marshaling one's energies becomes more and more important as one grows older.More Hume Cronyn quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
I do a lot of planning and plotting. That's my greatest weakness. If I'm not terribly careful, I'll plan to a point where it could come out cut and dried.More Hume Cronyn quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]
I fill my life with a lot of 'busyness' in between jobs. Then I work very hard. Some of it is quite unhealthy. It's compulsive. I don't know what to do about it. I'm a little old to change.More Hume Cronyn quotes [03/29/2018 05:03:36]

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