Tandy and Hume Cronyn at the 1988 Emmy Awards
|Born||Jessie Alice Tandy
7 June 1909
Hackney, London, England, UK
|Died||11 September 1994 (aged 85)
Easton, Connecticut, U.S.
(1942–1994) (her death)
Jessie Alice "Jessica" Tandy (7 June 1909 – 11 September 1994) was an English stage and film actress.
She first appeared on the London stage in 1926 at the age of 16, playing, among others, Katherine opposite Laurence Olivier's Henry V, and Cordelia opposite John Gielgud's King Lear. She also worked in British films. Following the end of her marriage to Jack Hawkins, she moved to New York, where she met Canadian actor Hume Cronyn. He became her second husband and frequent partner on stage and screen.
She was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance as Blanche Dubois in the original Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948, sharing the prize with Katherine Cornell and Judith Anderson in her portrayal of Medea. Over the following three decades, her career continued sporadically and included a substantial role in Alfred Hitchcock's film, The Birds (1963), and a Tony Award winning performance in The Gin Game (playing in the two-character play opposite her husband, Cronyn) in 1977.
In the mid 1980s she enjoyed a career revival. She appeared opposite Hume Cronyn in the Broadway production of Foxfire in 1983 and its television adaptation four years later, winning both a Tony Award and an Emmy Award for her portrayal of Annie Nations. During these years, she appeared in films such as Cocoon (1985), also with Cronyn.
She became the oldest actress to receive the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Driving Miss Daisy (1989), for which she also won a BAFTA and a Golden Globe, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Fried Green Tomatoes (1991). At the height of her success, she was named as one of People's "50 Most Beautiful People". She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1990, and continued working until shortly before her death.
The youngest of three siblings, Tandy was born in Geldeston Road in Hackney. Her mother, Jessie Helen (née Horspool), was the head of a school for mentally handicapped children, and her father, Harry Tandy, was a travelling salesman for a rope manufacturer. Her father died when Tandy was 12, and her mother subsequently taught evening courses to earn an income. Tandy was educated at Dame Alice Owen's School in Islington.
Tandy began her career at the age of 16 in London, establishing herself with performances opposite such actors as Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud. She entered films in England, but after her marriage to the actor Jack Hawkins failed, she moved to the United States. In 1942, she married Hume Cronyn and over the following years played supporting roles in several Hollywood films.
She made her American film debut in The Seventh Cross (1944). She also appeared in The Valley of Decision (1945), The Green Years (1946, as Cronyn's daughter), Dragonwyck (1946) starring Gene Tierney and Forever Amber (1947).
She won a Tony Award for her performance as Blanche Dubois in the original Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948. Over the following three decades, her career continued sporadically and included a substantial role in Alfred Hitchcock's film, The Birds (1963), and a Tony Award-winning performance in The Gin Game in 1977.
After her Tony-winning performance as Blanche DuBois in the original Broadway production of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, (she lost the film role to actress Vivien Leigh), she concentrated on the stage. She became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1952. For the next 20 years, she appeared sporadically in films such as The Light in the Forest (1958) and The Birds (1963).
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), and the hit film Cocoon (1985), opposite Cronyn, with whom she re-teamed for *batteries not included (1987) and Cocoon: The Return (1988). She and Cronyn had been working together more and more, on stage and television, notably in 1987's Foxfire which won her an Emmy Award (recreating her Tony winning Broadway role). However, it was her colorful performance in Driving Miss Daisy (1989), as an aging, stubborn Southern-Jewish matron, that earned her an Oscar.
She earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her work in the grassroots hit Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), and co-starred in The Story Lady (1991 telefilm, with daughter Tandy Cronyn), Used People (1992, as Shirley MacLaine's mother), To Dance with the White Dog (1993 telefilm, with husband Hume Cronyn), Nobody's Fool (1994), and Camilla (also 1994, with Cronyn). Camilla was to be her last performance, at the age of 84.
Tandy was chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the world in 1990.
Tandy's first marriage to British actor Jack Hawkins in 1932, produced one daughter, Susan Hawkins (born 1934). The couple divorced in 1940. Tandy married her next husband, Hume Cronyn, in 1942. They had two children, daughter Tandy and son Christopher.
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. In 1990, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer which she battled for four years, during which she continued to work. She had previously been treated for angina and glaucoma. She died at home on 11 September 1994 in Easton, Connecticut.
|1940||Jupiter Laughs||Dr. Mary Murray|
|1947||A Streetcar Named Desire||Blanche DuBois||Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play|
|1950||Hilda Crane||Hilda Crane|
|1959||Five Finger Exercise||Louise Harrington|
|1966||A Delicate Balance||Agnes|
|1977||The Gin Game||Fonsia Dorsey||Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play|
|1982||Foxfire||Annie Nations||Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play|
|1983||The Glass Menagerie||Amanda Wingfield|
|1986||The Petition||Lady Elizabeth Milne||Nominated - Tony Award|
|1932||The Indiscretions of Eve||Maid|
|1938||Murder in the Family||Ann Osborne|
|1944||The Seventh Cross||Liesel Roeder|
|Blonde Fever||Diner at Inn||uncredited|
|1945||The Valley of Decision||Louise Kane|
|The Green Years||Kate Leckie|
|1947||Forever Amber||Nan Britton|
|1948||A Woman's Vengeance||Janet Spence|
|1950||September Affair||Catherine Lawrence|
|1951||The Desert Fox||Frau Lucie Marie Rommel|
|1958||The Light in the Forest||Myra Butler|
|1962||Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man||Helen Adams||Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture|
|1963||The Birds||Lydia Brenner|
|1981||Honky Tonk Freeway||Carol|
|1982||The World According to Garp||Mrs. Fields|
|Still of the Night||Grace Rice|
|Best Friends||Eleanor McCullen|
|1984||The Bostonians||Miss Birdseye|
|Terror in the Aisles||archival footage|
|1987||*batteries not included||Faye Riley|
|1988||The House on Carroll Street||Miss Venable|
|Cocoon: The Return||Alma Finley|
|1989||Driving Miss Daisy||Daisy Werthan||Academy Award for Best Actress
BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
|1991||Fried Green Tomatoes||Ninny Threadgoode||Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
|1993||To Dance with the White Dog (with husband Hume Cronyn)||Cora Peek|
|1994||A Century of Cinema||Herself||documentary|
|Nobody's Fool||Beryl Peoples|