A Terrible Liar,
By Hume Cronyn, Key Porter Books, 1991
How Did I Not Know He Was Canadian?
Born in London, Ontario, to a well-placed family in the city, Hume Cronyn was sent to boarding school at age six and ultimately studied law at McGill University in Montreal. Partway through college, he switched majors to drama and went on to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. Oh, and he was a good enough featherweight boxer to become part of Canada's Olympic boxing team in 1932.
Cronyn was more of a stage guy than a film guy, but managed to rack up a pretty respectable list of character roles in pictures over the course of 50 years. Famously married to Jessica Tandy, with whom he equally famously worked on stage and screen for a half century until her death in 1994, Cronyn later married children's author Susan Cooper when he was in his mid-eighties; they were together for seven years until his death in 2003.
In pictures he was sweet, small, not great with accents, but sympathetic and compelling. He was also one of the very few famous people I've ever met in real life. I was working a fundraiser* in Manhattan for the nonprofit group spearheaded by Sister Helen Prejean, whose book, Dead Man Walking, had just been made into a film. Who should come in, but Hume Cronyn, wearing an enormous furry (possibly actual fur) coat, but it was winter, so that wasn't like an Edward Gorey thing. I actually got tongue-tied and sputtered something idiotic at him about Lifeboat, ignoring anything he might have done for the past 50 years. He was lovely and gracious, but quickly and rightly moved on.
Ah well. Happy birthday, Hume Cronyn, one day late. It's been a long time since I thought about The Parallax View, so that's what I'll probably watch today.
* Gloria Steinem was there too. I got to pin her name tag on her blouse. I also saw the sides of Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins from afar, which is how many people see them. He's tall; she's gorgeous.