Jessica Tandy

Jessica Tandy
Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times


Jessica Tandy
Film: South side of the 6200 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Born June 7, 1909 in London, United Kingdom
Died Sept. 11, 1994 of ovarian cancer in Easton, Conn.

Jessica Tandy was a versatile dramatic actress who electrified Broadway audiences as the original Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams' classic "A Streetcar Named Desire," and went on to wider fame decades later as the Oscar-winning heroine of the film "Driving Miss Daisy."

As a Southern Jewish dowager in "Driving Miss Daisy," Tandy won the 1989 Academy Award for lead actress. "By far the best movie role I ever had," she said. The relationship between Tandy and Morgan Freeman, who played Tandy's chauffeur "Hoke Colburn," charmed audiences around the world.

But long before, Tandy had more than established herself by winning three of the coveted Tony Awards for dramatic acting in legitimate theater. She was a veteran of more than 150 roles on stage, screen, radio and television in a career that spanned nearly seven decades.

For 52 years Tandy was married to actor Hume Cronyn, whom she also performed with in several plays and films, including the 1985 movie "Cocoon" and its sequel, "Cocoon: The Return." The two were often called the "first couple of the American theater," and both were named to the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1979. They were both nominated for an Emmy as best lead actress and actor in a miniseries or special for their work in the CBS movie, "To Dance With the White Dog." Cronyn won the Emmy in his category; Tandy did not. That was the same day she passed away.

In the last decade of her career, Miss Tandy seemed busier than successful performers half their ages. She appeared in six films —including her 1991 costarring role in "Fried Green Tomatoes" for which she was nominated for another Oscar. In 1988, she was honored by the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

This was a dramatic contrast from Tandy's early life, much of it spent in poverty. Her father died when she was 12, and her mother took extra clerical jobs and taught adult night school. Too young to stay home alone, Tandy accompanied her mother to the school where she enrolled in a Shakespeare appreciation class with students more than twice her age. Her mother saved enough money to send her young daughter to private school and then to London's Ben Greet Academy of Acting. Her mother encouraged her interest in acting, Tandy said, "as a dignified way for me out of our bleak life."

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Points of interest

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    Academy Awards

    Year Category Work
    1989 Best Actress Driving Miss Daisy Win
    1991 Best Supporting Actress Fried Green Tomatoes Nomination

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