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Jessica Tandy

Jessica Tandy

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The Desert Fox DVD In "The Desert Fox" (1951), James Mason convincingly depicts the war-time... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

Fried Green Tomatoes DVD Unites Academy Award winners Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy in a comedy/drama... more info $12.98was $12.98 Buy Now

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Butley DVD On any given day Ben Butley, a self-made train wreck of a n English literature... more info $29.95was $29.95 Buy Now

Driving Miss Daisy DVD Hoke Colburn sits in the front seat with his hands on the steering wheel, but... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

Still Of The Night DVD Roy Scheider and Meryl Streep star in a highly charged, Hitchcock- inspired... more info $14.99was $19.95 Buy Now

Also Known As: Died: September 11, 1994
Born: June 7, 1909 Cause of Death: ovarian cancer
Birth Place: London, England, GB Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Versatile, commanding stage performer, often opposite husband Hume Cronyn, who acted in occasional features beginning in the early 1930s but was busiest in films while in her seventies and eighties. Tandy began acting onstage in her native England in her teens and by the mid-1930s was enjoying considerable success in the classics, playing Ophelia to John Gielgud's Hamlet in 1934 and playing Viola in Tyrone Guthrie's famous 1937 staging of "Twelfth Night". Separating from first husband, actor Jack Hawkins, in 1940, Tandy moved to America but initially had a thin time of it. Luckily, she met up-and-coming actor Cronyn, whom she married in 1942 and with whom she made several supporting appearances in American films of the 40s. Her Hollywood debut was with Cronyn, in Fred Zinnemann's first-rate thriller "The Seventh Cross" (1944), but within several years she was playing small and undistinguished supporting roles, such as a maid in "Forever Amber" (1947). Luckily, Tennessee Williams saw Tandy onstage in "Portrait of Madonna", a play directed by Cronyn, and decided she was perfect to play one of his most complex creations, Blanche DuBois, in his landmark work, "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1947). As she...

Versatile, commanding stage performer, often opposite husband Hume Cronyn, who acted in occasional features beginning in the early 1930s but was busiest in films while in her seventies and eighties. Tandy began acting onstage in her native England in her teens and by the mid-1930s was enjoying considerable success in the classics, playing Ophelia to John Gielgud's Hamlet in 1934 and playing Viola in Tyrone Guthrie's famous 1937 staging of "Twelfth Night". Separating from first husband, actor Jack Hawkins, in 1940, Tandy moved to America but initially had a thin time of it. Luckily, she met up-and-coming actor Cronyn, whom she married in 1942 and with whom she made several supporting appearances in American films of the 40s. Her Hollywood debut was with Cronyn, in Fred Zinnemann's first-rate thriller "The Seventh Cross" (1944), but within several years she was playing small and undistinguished supporting roles, such as a maid in "Forever Amber" (1947).

Luckily, Tennessee Williams saw Tandy onstage in "Portrait of Madonna", a play directed by Cronyn, and decided she was perfect to play one of his most complex creations, Blanche DuBois, in his landmark work, "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1947). As she would in so much future work, Tandy combined a seemingly fragile, genteel sensitivity with considerable strength, verve and emotionalism. In the 50s she and Cronyn would prove to be the successors to Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne as the pre-eminent married acting couple of the American theater as in their fine work in the first of several two-character plays, "The Fourposter" (1951). The couple also did much important work in more experimental fare by Samuel Beckett and other writers, and frequently played in regional theater as well. Tandy and Cronyn occasionally committed their dynamic stage work to the TV screen, and both would return to the silver screen as well; one of Tandy's most impressive characterizations at this mid-career stage was her cold and dominating mother in Alfred Hitchcock's masterful "The Birds" (1963).

Later stage triumphs for Tandy included "The Gin Game" (1978), another comedy-drama duet for her and Cronyn, which won her a Tony to keep company with her one for "Streetcar". (She would win yet again for "Foxfire" 1983, a play which would also net her an Emmy for a TV reprisal in 1988.) The 80s saw Tandy reigniting her film career, co-starring in "Cocoon" (1985), "Batteries Not Included" (1987) and "Cocoon: The Return" (1988), and winning her first Oscar as the crusty Southern matron opposite Morgan Freeman in "Driving Miss Daisy" (1989).

Sympathetic and gentle, yet proud and resolute, Tandy became something of a fixture in recent Hollywood films aimed at a largely female audience: she was central to the success of both "Fried Green Tomatoes" (1991), adapted from Fannie Flagg's novel, and "Used People" (1992). Indeed, nearly half her feature film credits are from the last 12 years of her life, as were some of her most interesting TV assignments, which included "The Story Lady" (1991) and "To Dance with the White Dog" (1993). Until the end, her sensitivity and commitment to her craft and to her scripts and fellow players made her more than a dedicated artisan and delightful colleague--they provided a richly textured portrait of indomitable spirit.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Nobody's Fool (1994) Miss Beryl
2.
 Camilla (1994) Camilla Cara
3.
4.
 To Dance With the White Dog (1993) Cora Peek
5.
 Used People (1992) Frieda
6.
 Story Lady, The (1991) Grace Mcqueen
7.
 Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) Ninny Threadgoode
8.
 Driving Miss Daisy (1989) Daisy Werthan
9.
 House On Carroll Street, The (1988) Miss Venable
10.
 Cocoon: the Return (1988) Alma Finley
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Joined the Birmingham Repertory Company
1927:
Made British stage debut in a small Soho theater, as Sara Manderson in "The Manderson Girls"
1929:
London stage debut in "The Rumor"
1930:
Broadway debut in "The Matriarch," Longacre Theatre
1932:
Played breakthrough role of Manuela in a production of Christa Winsloe's play, "Children in Uniform"
1932:
British film debut in "The Indiscretions of Eve"
1934:
Played Ophelia opposite John Gielgud in the title role of a British production of "Hamlet"
1937:
Played Viola in a production of "Twelfth Night" staged by Tyrone Guthrie at the Old Vic
1938:
Played a leading role in one of her last British films, "Murder in the Family"
1940:
Returned to the Old Vic to play Cordelia in a production of "King Lear" with John Gielgud in the title role
1940:
Decided to move to America with WWII impending and her marriage to actor Jack Hawkins ending; left England with daughter Susan but was only allowed to take ten pounds out of the country; found it difficult to find work acting for a time; considered giving up career
1940:
Met Hume Cronyn when she returned to NY stage in "Jupiter Laughs" with Alexander Knox
1944:
Made US film debut in support of Spencer Tracy in "The Seventh Cross"; also marked first feature film in which she acted with husband Hume Cronyn
1946:
Starred in Tennessee Williams's "Portrait of a Madonna" at the Los Angeles Actors' Workshop (staged by Hume Cronyn) as almost an audition for "Streetcar" while Elia Kazan was in Hollywood directing "Gentlemen's Agreement"
1947:
Originated role of Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams's "A Streetcar Named Desire"
1948:
US TV debut in "Portrait of a Madonna"
1951:
First acted opposite Hume Cronyn onstage, "The Fourposter"
1951:
Last feature film for seven years, "The Desert Fox"; played Frau Rommel opposite James Mason as German WWII field marshall Rommel
1954:
Starred as Liz Marriott on own US TV series (opposite Hume Cronyn), "The Marriage", a short-lived comedy-drama which aired on NBC
1958:
First feature film in seven years, "The Light in the Forest"
1963:
Last feature film for 11 years, "The Birds", directed by Alfred Hitchcock
1973:
Had an operation to remove double cataracts
1974:
First feature film in 11 years, "Butley", starring Alan Bates
1981:
First feature film role opposite Hume Cronyn in 35 years, "Honky Tonk Freeway"; was also first film she made since "Butley"
1983:
Starred in a NY stage revival of Tennessee Williams's "The Glass Menagerie"
1984:
Returned to TV for the first time in over two decades to reprise her Tony-winning stage performance (opposite Hume Cronyn) in a PBS presentation of "The Gin Game"
1985:
Collapsed onstage during a performance of "Foxfire" in Los Angeles due to a cardiovascular problem
1986:
Last stage work, "The Petition", opposite Hume Cronyn
1989:
Won Best Actress Oscar for her crusty Southern matron in "Driving Miss Daisy"
1990:
Began battle against ovarian cancer
1991:
Underwent major surgery for her cancer
1992:
Last film released during her lifetime, "Used People"
1994:
Completed work on two features, "Camilla" (her last film with Cronyn) and "Nobody's Fool", released posthumously
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Dame Alice Owens Girls School: -
University of Western Ontario: -
Ben Greet Academy: - 1924 - 1927

Notes

Received honorary law degree from Fordham University in 1985

"Only poets, not theater critics, should be allowed to write about her." --"New York Times" theater critic Frank Rich.

Named to Theatre Hall of Fame (1979)

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Jack Hawkins. Actor. Married 1932, divorced 1940.
husband:
Hume Cronyn. Actor, director, writer. Married September 27, 1942 until her death.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Harry Tandy. Died of cancer c.1921.
mother:
Jessie Helen Tandy. Headmistress at a school for retarded children.
daughter:
Susan Tettemer. Father Jack Hawkins; born c. 1934.
son:
Christopher Cronyn. Father Hume Cronyn; born 1943.
daughter:
Tandy Cronyn. Actor. Father Hume Cronyn; born 1945.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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