Jessica Alice Tandy (June 7, 1909 – September 11, 1994) was a British-American stage and film actress.
She appeared in over 100 stage productions and had more than 60 roles in film and TV.
Born in London to a headmistress and a traveling salesman, she made her professional debut on the London stage in 1927, at the age of 18. 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. In the 1930s, she also worked in a couple 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 won the Tony Award for her performance as Blanche Dubois in the original Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948, sharing 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). 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.