Jessica Tandy (born Jessie Alice Tandy; 7 June 1909 – 11 September 1994) was an English-American stage and film actress best known for her Academy Award winning performance in the film Driving Miss Daisy. Tandy appeared in over 100 stage productions and had more than 60 roles in film and TV.
Born in London to Jessie Helen Horspool and commercial traveller Harry Tandy, she was only 18 when she made her professional debut on the London stage in 1927. During the 1930s, she appeared in a large number of plays in London's West End, playing roles such as Ophelia (opposite John Gielgud's legendary Hamlet) and Katherine (opposite Laurence Olivier's Henry V).
During this period, she also worked in a number of British films. Following the end of her marriage to the British actor Jack Hawkins, she moved to New York in 1940, where she met Canadian actor Hume Cronyn. He became her second husband and frequent partner on stage and screen.
She received the Tony Award for best performance by a Leading Actress in A Play for her performance as Blanche DuBois in the original Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948. Tandy shared the prize with Katharine Cornell (who won for the female lead in Antony and Cleopatra) and Judith Anderson (for the latter's portrayal of Medea) in a three-way tie for the award. Over the following three decades, her career continued sporadically and included a supporting role in Alfred Hitchcock's horror film, The Birds (1963), and a Tony Award-winning performance in The Gin Game (1977, playing in the two-hander play opposite Hume Cronyn). Along with Cronyn, she was a member of the original acting company of the Guthrie Theater.
In the mid-1980s she had a career revival. She appeared with 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.
Tandy, c. 1950s
Jessie Alice Tandy
7 June 1909
|Died||11 September 1994 (aged 85)|
Easton, Connecticut, U.S.
(m. 1932; div. 1940)
The youngest of three siblings, Tandy was born in Geldeston Road in Hackney, London. Her father, Harry Tandy, was a travelling salesman for a rope manufacturer. Her mother, Jessie Helen Horspool, was from a large fenland family in Wisbech, Cambs, and the head of a school for mentally handicapped children.
Her father died when Tandy was 12, and her mother subsequently taught evening courses to earn an income. Her brother Edward was later a prisoner of war of the Japanese in the Far East. Tandy was educated at Dame Alice Owen's School in Islington.
Tandy began her career at the age of 18 in London, establishing herself with performances opposite such actors as Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud. She entered films in Britain, but after her marriage to Jack Hawkins failed, she moved to the United States hoping to find better roles. During her time as a leading actress on the stage in London she often had to fight for roles over her two rivals, Peggy Ashcroft and Celia Johnson. In 1942, she married Hume Cronyn and over the following years played supporting roles in several Hollywood films. Tandy became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1952.
Like so many stage actors, Tandy had a hand in radio, as well. Among other programs, she was a regular on Mandrake the Magician (as Princess Nada), and then with husband Hume Cronyn in The Marriage which ran on radio from 1953–54, and then segued onto television.
She made her American film debut in The Seventh Cross (1944). The Hollywood studio system did not know what to do with Tandy. Failing to gain leading roles, she was relegated to supporting appearances in The Valley of Decision (1945), The Green Years (1946, as Cronyn's daughter), Dragonwyck (1946) starring Gene Tierney and Vincent Price and Forever Amber (1947). Over the next three decades, her film career continued sporadically while she found better roles on the stage. Her roles during this time included The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951) opposite James Mason, The Light in the Forest (1958), and a role as a domineering mother in Alfred Hitchcock's film, The Birds (1963).
On Broadway, she won a Tony Award for her performance as Blanche Dubois in the original Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948. After this (she lost the film role to actress Vivien Leigh), she concentrated on the stage. In 1976, she and Cronyn joined the acting company of the Stratford Festival, and returned in 1980 to debut Cronyn's play Foxfire. In 1977, she earned her second Tony Award, for her performance (with Cronyn) in The Gin Game and her third Tony in 1982 for her performance, again with Cronyn, in Foxfire. 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). She and Cronyn were now working together more regularly on stage and television, including the films Cocoon (1985), *batteries not included (1987) and Cocoon: The Return (1988) and the Emmy Award winning television film Foxfire (1987, recreating her Tony winning Broadway role).
She received 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), television film To Dance with the White Dog (1993, with Cronyn), Nobody's Fool (1994), and Camilla (also 1994, with Cronyn). Camilla proved to be her last performance, at the age of 84.
Tandy's first marriage in 1932 to English actor Jack Hawkins produced one daughter, Susan Hawkins (1934–2004), who became an actress and the daughter-in-law of John Moynihan Tettemer, a former Passionist monk who authored I Was a Monk: The Autobiography of John Tettemer, and was cast in small roles in "Lost Horizon" (1937) and "Meet John Doe" (1941). After Tandy and Hawkins divorced in 1940, Tandy then married her second husband, Canadian actor Hume Cronyn, in 1942; the marriage lasted until her death in 1994. They had two children, daughter Tandy Cronyn (an actress who would co-star with her mother in the aforementioned NBC telefilm The Story Lady), and son Christopher Cronyn.
Prior to moving to Connecticut, she lived with Hume 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 and fought it for the next four years. Tandy also suffered from angina and glaucoma. Despite all this and her advancing age, she continued working. She died at home on 11 September 1994, in Easton, Connecticut, at age 85.
|1940||Jupiter Laughs||Dr. Mary Murray|
|1942||Yesterday's Magic||daughter Cattrin|
|1947||A Streetcar Named Desire||Blanche DuBois||Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play|
|1950||Hilda Crane||Hilda Crane|
|1959||Five Finger Exercise||Louise Harrington|
|1966||A Delicate Balance||Agnes|
|1972||Not I||Mouth||Samuel Beckett|
|1977||The Gin Game||Fonsia Dorsey||Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play|
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play
|1982||Foxfire||Annie Nations||Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play|
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play
|1983||The Glass Menagerie||Amanda Wingfield|
|1986||The Petition||Lady Elizabeth Milne||Nominated—Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play|
|1932||The Indiscretions of Eve||Maid|
|1938||Murder in the Family||Ann Osborne|
|1944||The Seventh Cross||Liesel Roeder|
|1944||Blonde Fever||Diner at Inn||Uncredited|
|1945||The Valley of Decision||Louise Kane|
|1946||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: The Story of Rommel||Frau Lucie Maria Rommel|
|1956||Producers' Showcase||Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie|
|1957||The Glass Eye||Julia Lester||Short film presented in "Alfred Hitchcock Presents"|
|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|
|1975||Bicentennial Minute for August 31, 1775, Destruction of Boston's Liberty Tree||Herself||CBS Television Network, August 31, 1975 - Sponsor: Royal Dutch Shell|
|1981||Honky Tonk Freeway||Carol|
|1982||The World According to Garp||Mrs. Fields|
|1982||Still of the Night||Grace Rice|
|1982||Best Friends||Eleanor McCullen|
|1984||The Bostonians||Miss Birdseye|
|1984||Terror in the Aisles||Herself||Archival footage|
|1985||Cocoon||Alma Finley||Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Actress|
|1987||Foxfire||Annie Nations||TV movie|
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
|1987||*batteries not included||Faye Riley||Saturn Award for Best Actress|
|1988||The House on Carroll Street||Miss Venable|
|1988||Cocoon: The Return||Alma Finley||Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Actress|
|1989||Driving Miss Daisy||Daisy Werthan||Academy Award for Best Actress|
BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
David di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Actress
Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Silver Bear for the Best Joint Performance (with Morgan Freeman)
Nominated—American Comedy Award for Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture
Nominated—National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress
Nominated—New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
|1991||The Story Lady||Grace McQueen||TV movie|
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
|1991||Fried Green Tomatoes||Ninny Threadgoode||Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress|
Nominated—American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
|1993||To Dance with the White Dog||Cora Peek||Television movie|
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
|1994||A Century of Cinema||Herself||documentary|
|1994||Camilla||Camilla Cara||Released posthumously|
|1994||Nobody's Fool||Beryl Peoples||Released posthumously, (final film role)|
*Re-issued on DVD as The Christmas Story Lady
|1956||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Edwina Freel||Episode: "Toby"|
|1957||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Julia Lester||Episode: "The Glass Eye"|
|1958||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Laura Bowlby||Episode: "The Canary Sedan"|
|1994||ER||Mrs Backer||Episode: "Going Home"|
The 62nd Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), honored the best films of 1989 and took place on March 26, 1990, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles beginning at 6:00 p.m. PST / 9:00 p.m. EST. During the ceremony, AMPAS presented Academy Awards (commonly referred to as Oscars) in 23 categories. The ceremony, televised in the United States by ABC, was produced by Gil Cates and directed by Jeff Margolis. Actor Billy Crystal hosted the show for the first time. Three weeks earlier in a ceremony held at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California on March 3, the Academy Awards for Technical Achievement were presented by hosts Richard Dysart and Diane Ladd.Driving Miss Daisy won four awards including Best Picture and Best Actress for Jessica Tandy, the oldest person at the time to win a competitive acting Oscar. Other winners included Glory with three awards, Born on the Fourth of July, The Little Mermaid, and My Left Foot with two, and The Abyss, Balance, Batman, Cinema Paradiso, Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt, Dead Poets Society, Henry V, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Johnstown Flood, and Work Experience with one. The telecast garnered more than 40 million viewers in the United States.A Woman's Vengeance
A Woman's Vengeance is a 1948 American film noir drama mystery film directed by Zoltán Korda and starring Charles Boyer, Ann Blyth, Jessica Tandy, Cedric Hardwicke, Rachel Kempson, and Mildred Natwick. The screenplay by Aldous Huxley was based on his short story "The Gioconda Smile". The film was released by Universal Pictures.Butley (film)
Butley is a 1974 American-British drama film directed by Harold Pinter and starring Alan Bates, Jessica Tandy, Richard O'Callaghan, Susan Engel, and Michael Byrne. It is an adaptation from Simon Gray's 1971 play of same name. It was produced by Ely Landau and released through Landau's American Film Theatre.Cocoon (film)
Cocoon is a 1985 American science-fiction fantasy comedy-drama film directed by Ron Howard about a group of elderly people rejuvenated by aliens. The movie stars Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Brian Dennehy, Jack Gilford, Steve Guttenberg, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, Gwen Verdon, Herta Ware, Tahnee Welch, and Linda Harrison. The screenplay was written by Tom Benedek, from David Saperstein's story.The film was shot in and around St. Petersburg, Florida: locations included the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club, Sunny Shores Rest Home, The Coliseum, and Snell Arcade buildings. The film earned two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor (Don Ameche) and for Best Visual Effects. A sequel, Cocoon: The Return, was released in 1988, in which almost all of the original cast reprised their roles.Robert Zemeckis was originally hired as director, but after spending a year working on it in development, he was fired before production began as 20th Century Fox (the studio financing Cocoon) felt he was box office poison, due to his films I Wanna Hold Your Hand and Used Cars both being critically acclaimed, but commercial failures, and the studio felt his then-current film with Fox, Romancing the Stone would also be a flop after the studio previewed it, so Ron Howard was then hired as director. Romancing the Stone turned out to be a huge commercial success and gave Zemeckis the clout to do Back to the Future which he had already scripted and had been previously turned down by every major studio.Driving Miss Daisy
Driving Miss Daisy is a 1989 American comedy-drama film directed by Bruce Beresford and written by Alfred Uhry, based on Uhry's play of the same name. The film stars Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman, and Dan Aykroyd. Freeman reprised his role from the original Off-Broadway production.
The story defines Daisy and her point of view through a network of relationships and emotions by focusing on her home life, synagogue, friends, family, fears, and concerns over a 25-year period.
Driving Miss Daisy was a critical and commercial success upon its release and at the 62nd Academy Awards received nine nominations, and won four; Best Picture, Best Actress (for Tandy), Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and Best Adapted Screenplay.Foxfire (1987 film)
Foxfire is a 1987 Hallmark Hall of Fame made-for-television drama film starring Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn and John Denver, based on the play of the same name. The movie aired on CBS on December 13, 1987. Tandy won an Emmy Award for her performance.Fried Green Tomatoes
Fried Green Tomatoes is a 1991 American comedy-drama film based on the novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. Directed by Jon Avnet and written by Flagg and Carol Sobieski, it stars Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Mary-Louise Parker. It tells the story of a Depression-era friendship between two women, Ruth and Idgie, and a 1980s friendship between Evelyn, a middle-aged housewife, and Ninny, an elderly woman. The centerpiece and parallel story concerns the murder of Ruth's abusive husband, Frank, and the accusations that follow.
Released on December 27, 1991, the film received a generally positive reception from critics and grossed $119 million worldwide. It was nominated for two Oscars at the 64th Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actress (Tandy) and Academy Award for Best Adapted ScreenplayHemingway's Adventures of a Young Man
Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man is a 1962 20th Century Fox film directed by Martin Ritt based on Ernest Hemingway's semi-autobiographical character Nick Adams, and featuring Richard Beymer as Adams. A.E. Hotchner wrote the screenplay, originally calling the film Ernest Hemingway's "Young Man". The cast includes Diane Baker, Jessica Tandy, Ricardo Montalban, Eli Wallach, Arthur Kennedy, and Paul Newman. The 145 minute-long film was released in July 1962.Hume Cronyn
Hume Blake Cronyn Jr., OC (July 18, 1911 – June 15, 2003) was a Canadian actor of stage and screen, who enjoyed a long career, often appearing professionally alongside Jessica Tandy, his wife of over fifty years.Jupiter Laughs
Jupiter Laughs is A. J. Cronin's 1940 play in three acts about a doctor and his love interest, who hopes to become a medical missionary. The play was first staged in Glasgow at the King's Theatre and starred Henry Longhurst, Catherine Lacey and James Mason. In September 1940, it opened on Broadway at the Biltmore Theatre and starred Alexander Knox and Jessica Tandy. Film adaptations include Shining Victory, with James Stephenson and Geraldine Fitzgerald, and Ich suche Dich ("I Seek You") with O.W. Fischer and Anouk Aimée.Murder in the Family
Murder in the Family is a 1938 British crime film directed by Albert Parker and starring Barry Jones, Jessica Tandy and Evelyn Ankers. It was adapted from a novel by James Ronald. The screenplay concerns the murder of a wealthy woman.Nobody's Fool (1994 film)
Nobody's Fool is a 1994 American comedy-drama film based on the 1993 novel of the same name by Richard Russo. The film was written for the screen and directed by Robert Benton and stars Paul Newman, Jessica Tandy, Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith, Dylan Walsh, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Gene Saks, Josef Sommer, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Philip Bosco. It was Paramount's final production under its Paramount Communications ownership (being sold to the original Viacom in July 1994) and Jessica Tandy's final produced film before her death on September 11, 1994.September Affair
September Affair is a 1950 American romantic drama film directed by William Dieterle and starring Joan Fontaine, Joseph Cotten, and Jessica Tandy. It was produced by Hal B. Wallis.The Birds (film)
The Birds is a 1963 American horror-thriller film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, loosely based on the 1952 story of the same name by Daphne du Maurier. It focuses on a series of sudden, unexplained violent bird attacks on the people of Bodega Bay, California over the course of a few days.
The film stars Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren (in her screen debut), supported by Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette and Veronica Cartwright. The screenplay is by Evan Hunter, who was told by Hitchcock to develop new characters and a more elaborate plot while keeping du Maurier's title and concept of unexplained bird attacks.
In 2016, The Birds was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress, and selected for preservation in its National Film Registry.The Bostonians (film)
The Bostonians is a 1984 British romantic drama film based on Henry James's novel The Bostonians. It was adapted by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. The film stars Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Reeve, Madeleine Potter and Jessica Tandy. The movie received respectable reviews and showings at arthouse theaters in New York, London and other cities. Vanessa Redgrave received 1984 Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for Best Actress, and the movie earned other award nominations for its costume design.The Fourposter
The Fourposter is a 1951 play written by Jan de Hartog. The two-character story spans thirty-five years, from 1890 to 1925, as it focuses on the trials and tribulations, laughters and sorrows, and hopes and disappointments experienced by Agnes and Michael throughout their marriage. The set consists solely of their bedroom, dominated by the large fourposter bed in the center of the room. Its simple set and small cast have made it a popular choice for amateur theatrical groups.
Among the couple's milestones are the consummation of their marriage, the birth of their first child, Michael's success as a writer, his extramarital affair, their daughter's wedding, and their preparations to move to smaller quarters and pass their home on to another newlywed couple.
The Broadway production, directed by José Ferrer, opened on October 24, 1951, at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, later moving to the John Golden to complete its 632-performance run. Original cast Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy later were replaced first by Burgess Meredith and Betty Field and then Romney Brent and Sylvia Sidney. It received Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Director.
Cronyn and Tandy recreated their roles for a July 25, 1955, telecast live on the NBC anthology series Producers' Showcase.The Honeys (play)
The Honeys is a play written by Roald Dahl. It toured Boston, Philadelphia and New Haven before opening on Broadway on 28 April 1955. It starred Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, and Dorothy Stickney. Although it received some good notices, it ran for only 36 performances. Its short run, combined with the difficulties that Dahl had with the play's director, convinced Dahl to stick to short–story writing. The play is based on some of the stories from Someone Like You and revolves around two sisters who decide to murder their husbands. As of 2018, the text of the play has not been published.The Seventh Cross (film)
The Seventh Cross is a 1944 drama film, set in Nazi Germany, starring Spencer Tracy as a prisoner who escaped from a concentration camp. The story chronicles how he interacts with ordinary Germans, and gradually sheds his cynical view of humanity.
The film co-starred Hume Cronyn, who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. It was the first film in which Cronyn appeared with his wife Jessica Tandy, and was among the first feature films directed by Fred Zinnemann.
The movie was adapted from the novel of the same name by the German refugee writer Anna Seghers. Produced in the midst of the Second World War, it was one of the few films made during the war to deal with the existence of Nazi concentration camps.Triple Crown of Acting
The Triple Crown of Acting is a term used in the American entertainment industry to describe actors who have won a competitive Academy Award, Emmy Award, and Tony Award in the acting categories. As of June 2018, twenty-four people have achieved the triple crown of acting (15 women, 9 men). Helen Hayes's Emmy Award win on February 5, 1953, made her the first person to achieve the triple crown. Thomas Mitchell became the first man to achieve the triple crown with his Tony Award win later the same year on March 29, 1953. Hayes and Rita Moreno are the only triple crown winners in competitive acting categories who have also won a Grammy Award to complete the EGOT.
Awards for Jessica Tandy
Triple Crown of Acting winners