Hume CronynHume Cronyn was born in London, Ontario on July 18th, 1911, in a house built by his Irish great grandfather, the first Bishop of Huron, Canada.  He was smaller and much younger than his four upright siblings, and to their horror he wanted to be an actor. But his mother understood and helped.

From the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Hume went into George Abbott farces and a string of Broadway flops, learning all the way.  He was briefly married (to Emily Woodruff) and divorced, and was about to be married to someone else when he met Jessica Tandy.  This changed his mind.

Hume was summoned to Hollywood in 1942 by Alfred Hitchcock, for Shadow of a Doubt.  He and Jessica were married there, and he made 12 more films, with an Oscar nomination for The Seventh Cross.  He directed Jessica in a Tennessee Williams one-acter which led to her being cast as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire, and they went back East with their three children Susan, Christopher and Tandy, to a legendary career in the theatre, in plays from Beckett to Noel Coward, from The Fourposter to The Gin Game.

The Cronyns worked often in regional theatre, and under Tyrone Guthrie they helped open the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, where Hume starred in The Miser, Richard III and The Three Sisters.  In 1986 he and Jessica were given the Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award, continuing to make films ( among others, The World According to Garp, Cocoon, Batteries Not Included) until Jessica died in 1994.  Earlier that year, they had together won the first lifetime Tony Award.

In the theatre, Hume received five Tony nominations, winning in 1964 as Polonius in the Burton/Gielgud Hamlet.  With Susan Cooper he wrote the play Foxfire (in which Jessica won both a Tony and an Emmy) and a major TV film, The Dollmaker, for Jane Fonda, and in Susan¹s teleplay To Dance With the White Dog he won one of his own three Emmys.  The other Emmys were for Broadway Bound and Age-Old Friends.  He went on acting in television until he was 89; among the last films were Horton Foote¹s Alone, William Friedkin¹s remake of Twelve Angry Men, and Off Season, for Showtime.

All his life, Hume moved effortlessly between the camera and the stage, shifting his technique but always insisting on learning all his lines in advance.  He was a master of both crafts, but the theatre was his true love.  He played Hamlet when he was too young (earning, he used to report cheerfully, a review describing him as Hamlet on the half-shell) and late in life he always regretted having turned down a chance to play Lear, but he was a moving Shylock and a hilarious Bottom at Stratford, Ontario, and his Polonius was unforgettable.  Alongside the classics went memorable performances in A Delicate Balance, Hadrian VII, and - besides The Gin Game - his last play on Broadway, The Petition.  In 1996 he married his writing partner Susan Cooper.

Hume Cronyn, who died on September 15, 2003, was a wonderful magical talented man:  actor, director, writer, manager, neatnik, athlete, romantic, with the temperament of Prospero and, once in a while, Eeyore.  He loved working, islands, water, flyfishing, reading, and above all his family and friends.  He loved life, and without him our own lives will never be the same.

by Susan Cooper