Legend has it that Hume Cronyn wanted to drop out of McGill University in 1930 to pursue a career as an actor. This did not go over well with the family, but his mother offered a compromise -- that he should give McGill one more year and then she would support whatever he chose afterwards. Luckily, Cronyn followed his heart and began acting at McGill. He later enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York in 1932.
Cronyn made his Broadway debut as a janitor in Hipper's Holiday and became known for his versatility, playing a number of different roles on stage. His first Hollywood film was Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943). He later appeared in Hitchcock's Lifeboat (1944) and worked on the screenplays of Rope (1948) and Under Capricorn (1949). Cronyn also made appearances in television, including The Barbara Stanwyck Show, the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "Kill With Kindness" (1956) and Hawaii Five-O episodes "Over Fifty, Steal" (1970) and "Odd Man In" (1971).
Cronyn earned a number of accolades and awards throughout his career: He won a Tony Award for his performance as Polonius in Hamlet, in 1964; he was awarded the Order of Canada, in 1974; he was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame, in 1979; he was awarded the Commonwealth Award for Dramatic Arts, in 1983; he received the Christopher Award in 1985 for the screenplay Dollmaker; he was awarded a Drama Desk Special Award in 1986; and, in 1990, he won an Emmy award for his role in the TV Movie Age Old Friends, and was awarded the National Medal of Arts.
A great many performances in his career were alongside his British born wife, the late Jessica Tandy. The pair were virtually the Royal Couple of Broadway, sought after by producers and ticket hunters alike. Cronyn and Tandy brought The Gin Game to Canada's Stratford Festival in 1978 with great success.
Hume Cronyn died at the age of 91 at his home in Fairfield, Connecticut. He is survived by his second wife, Susan Cooper and his two children, Tandy and Christopher.
Hume Cronyn was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in The Seventh Cross, in 1944. In the film, Cronyn starred alongside his wife, Jessica Tandy.