'Cocoon' actor dies

Hume Cronyn famous in film, theater roles

— Hume Cronyn, the versatile stage and screen actor who charmed audiences with his portrayals of irascible old men and frequently paired up with his wife, Jessica Tandy, has died of cancer. He was 91.

Cronyn died of prostate cancer Sunday at his home in Fairfield, Conn., family spokeswoman Karen Connelly said Monday. He and Tandy were married for nearly 52 years at the time of her death from ovarian cancer in September 1994.

The couple was honored at the 1994 Tony Awards with the first-ever Special Lifetime Achievement Award.

Cronyn, known to modern audiences for his roles in the 1980s "Cocoon" movies, was a seasoned stage actor, making his theater debut in 1931 in "Up Pops the Devil."

He was known for his versatility as an actor, playing a wide variety of characters on stage, including a janitor in "Hipper's Holiday," in his Broadway debut in 1934; the gangster Elkus in "There's Always a Breeze," in 1938; and Andrei Prozoroff, the brother in Chekhov's "Three Sisters," in 1939.

He made his film debut in 1943 as the detective story addict Herbie Hawkins in Alfred Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt."

After Cronyn appeared in Hitchcock's "Lifeboat" in 1944, a critic in the New York World-Telegram wrote: "Hume Cronyn is one of the most vivid young character actors to come along in Hollywood in quite a time."

Cronyn went on to take other film parts, both major and minor, appearing in numerous movies over the next 50 years, including: "Phantom of the Opera" (1943); "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1946); "People Will Talk" (1951); "Cleopatra" (1963); "There Was a Crooked Man" (1970); and "The World According to Garp" (1982).

He was nominated for an Academy Award as best supporting actor for his performance in "The Seventh Cross" in 1944.

Cronyn frequently worked with his wife -- on Broadway in "The Gin Game" (1978), on television, in "Foxfire" (1987); and in movies, as a married couple, in "Cocoon" (1985) and "Cocoon: The Return" (1988).

Cronyn leaves his wife, children's writer Susan Cooper Cronyn, whom he married in 1996, his two children, a stepchild, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Services will be private, Connelly said.

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