Date of Birth : Jun 18th 1911
Canadian/American stage, film, and broadcast actor who enjoyed a long and distinguished career—often appearing professionally with his second wife, Jessica Tandy—after overcoming an early image as a film heavy.
Cronyn, one of five children, was born in London, Ontario, Canada, the son of Frances Amelia Labatt, an heiress of the brewing company of the same name, and her husband, Hume Blake Cronyn, Sr, a businessman and a Member of Parliament for London (and for whom the Hume Cronyn Memorial Observatory and asteroid (12050) Humecronyn are named). His paternal grandfather Verschoyle Cronyn was the son of the Right Reverend Benjamin Cronyn, a Anglican cleric of Anglo-Irish Protestant Ascendancy stock who served as first bishop of the Anglican diocese of Huron, and founder of Huron College from which grew the University of Western Ontario. His great-uncle Benjamin Jr was both a prominent citizen and early mayor of London, Ontario. Benjamin Jr was later indicted for fraud and fled to Vermont. During his tenure in London he built a mansion called Oakwood, which currently serves as the head office of the Info-Tech Research Group. Cronyn was also a cousin of Canadian-born theater producer, Robert Whitehead.
Early in life, Cronyn was an amateur featherweight boxer, having the skills to even be nominated for the 1932 Canadian Olympic Boxing Team.
His first Hollywood film was Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943). He later appeared in Hitchcock’s Lifeboat (1944) and was a writer for the screenplays of Rope (1948) and Under Capricorn (1949). He was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor for his performance in The Seventh Cross (1944) and won a Tony Award for his performance as Polonius opposite Richard Burton’s Hamlet (1964). Cronyn bought the screenplay What Nancy Wanted from Norma Barzman — later blacklisted with her husband Ben Barzman — with the idea of producing the film and starring Tandy. However, he sold the screenplay to RKO which later filmed it as The Locket (1946). (Source: Cronyn-Tandy Collection at the Library of Congress)