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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).
Tandy, c. 1950s
Jessie Alice Tandy
(1909-06-07)7 June 1909
|Died||11 September 1994(1994-09-11) (aged 85)|
Easton, Connecticut, U.S.
(m. 1932; div. 1940)
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.
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 the head of a school for mentally handicapped children who was from a large fenland family in Wisbech, Cambs.
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 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 was chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the world in 1990.
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. The cause of death remains private.
|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"|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jessica Tandy.|
Awards for Jessica Tandy
Triple Crown of Acting winners