Lynn Fontanne

Lynn Fontanne

Infobox actor
name = Lynn Fontanne

caption = Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1932
birthname = Lillie Louise Fontanne
birthdate = December 6 1887
location = Woodford, United Kingdom
deathdate = death date and age|1983|7|30|1887|12|6
deathplace = Genesee Depot, Wisconsin, USA
othername =
yearsactive =
spouse =
emmyawards = Outstanding Lead Actress - Miniseries or a Movie
1965 "The Magnificent Yankee"
tonyawards =

Lynn Fontanne (December 6 1887July 30 1983) was a British-born actress who was a major stage star in the United States for over 40 years, and who with her husband Alfred Lunt was part of the most acclaimed acting team in the history of the American theater.


She never relinquished her British citizenship, despite living in the U.S. for over 60 years. She and her husband shared a special Tony Award in 1970. She also won an Emmy award in 1965, and was a Kennedy Center honoree very late in life.


Born Lillie Louise Fontanne in Woodford, United Kingdom, Fontanne first became popular in the title role of George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly's farce, Dulcy, in 1920. She soon became celebrated for her skill as an actress in high comedy, excelling in witty roles written for her by Noel Coward, S. N. Behrman and Robert Sherwood. By contrast, she enjoyed one of the greatest critical successes of her career as Nina Leeds, the desperate heroine of Eugene O'Neill's nine-act drama, "Strange Interlude".

From the late 1920s on, Fontanne acted exclusively in vehicles also starring her husband. Among their greatest theater triumphs were "Design for Living" (1933), "The Taming of the Shrew" (1935-1936), "Idiot's Delight" (1936), and "There Shall Be No Night" (1940). The Lunts remained highly active on the stage until retiring in 1960. Fontanne was nominated for a Best Actress Tony for one of her last stage roles, in "The Visit" (1959).

Fontanne only made three movies, but nevertheless, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1931 for "The Guardsman", losing to the much younger Helen Hayes. She also appeared in the silent movies "Second Youth" (1924) and "The Man Who Found Himself" (1925).

The Lunts starred in four television productions in the 1950s and 1960s with both Lunt and Fontanne winning an Emmy award in 1965 for "The Magnificent Yankee", becoming the first married couple to win the award for playing a married couple. She also narrated the classic 1960 television production of " Peter Pan" starring Mary Martin and received a second Emmy nomination for playing Grand Duchess Marie in the Hallmark Hall of Fame telecast of "Anastasia" in 1967, both rare performances that she did without her husband.

The Lunts also starred in several radio dramas in the 1940s, notably on the Theatre Guild program. Many of these broadcasts still survive.

Personal life

Fontanne's romance with Lunt began in 1920 while he was starring in the play "Clarence" with Helen Hayes, who had discreetly fallen in love with him. The Lunts were married in 1922. Hayes' remained a lifelong friend of the pair, although many believe she never quite forgave Fontanne for "stealing" Lunt from her, Hayes' 1988 autobiography, published after the Lunts' deaths contains several barbs directed at Fontanne, who supposedly was her friend for decades.

The Lunts lived for many years at Ten Chimneys, in Genesee Depot, Wisconsin, in Waukesha County, Wisconsin, but never had children. By all accounts, Lynn Fontanne was among the most duplicitous of actresses regarding her true age. Her husband died believing she was five years younger than him (as she had told him), and refused to believe anything to the contrary, although several magazine profiles on the stars reported her true age. She was, in fact, 5 years older, but continued to deny long after Lunt's death that she was born in 1887 (the year now attributed to her birth); she even misreported her year of birth accordingly to the U.S. Social Security Administration.

Asked how to say her name, she told "The Literary Digest" she preferred the French way, but "If the French is too difficult for American consumption, both syllables should be equally accented, and the "a" should be more or less broad": "fon-tahn". (Charles Earle Funk, "What's the Name, Please?", Funk & Wagnalls, 1936.)

Lynn Lunt, as she is known in the Social Security Death Index ( [] ) is interred next to her equally famous husband, Alfred Lunt, at the Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


*tcmdb name|id=63688|name=Lynn Fontanne

External links

*amg name|id=2:24146|title=Lynn Fontanne

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lynn Fontanne — Fotografiada por Carl Van Vechten en 1932 Nombre real Lillie Louise Fontanne Nacimiento 6 de diciembre de 1887 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Lynn Fontanne — (1932) Lynn Fontanne (geboren als: Lillie Louise Fontanne; * 6. Dezember 1887 im London Borough of Redbridge, England; † 30. Juli 1983 in Genesee Depot, Wisconsin, USA) war eine britische Film und Theatersc …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Lynn Fontanne — En 1932 Données clés Naissance 6  …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Lynn Fontanne — noun United States actress (born in England) who married Alfred Lunt and performed with him in many plays (1887 1983) • Syn: ↑Fontanne • Instance Hypernyms: ↑actress …   Useful english dictionary

  • Lunt, Alfred and Lynn Fontanne — orig. Lillie Louise Fontanne born Aug. 19, 1892, Milwaukee, Wis., U.S. died Aug. 3, 1977, Chicago, Ill. born Dec. 6, 1887, Essex, Eng. died July 30, 1983, Genesee Depot, Wis. U.S. acting team. Lunt made his acting debut in Boston in 1912 and… …   Universalium

  • Lunt, Alfred y Lynn Fontanne — orig. Lillie Louise Fontanne (19 ago. 1892, Milwaukee, Wis., EE.UU.–3 ago. 1977, Chicago, Ill.) (6 dic. 1887, Essex, Inglaterra–30 jul. 1983, Genesee Depot, Wis.). Dúo actoral estadounidense. Lunt debutó en el teatro en Boston en 1912 y… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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  • Lynn Bari — auf dem Cover eines U. S. Army Magazines Lynn Bari (* 18. Dezember 1913 in Roanoke, Virginia, USA als Margaret Schuyler Fisher; † 20. November 1989 in Santa Barbara, Kalifornien) war eine US amerikanische Schauspielerin …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Lynn — (as used in expressions) Lunt, Alfred y Lynn Fontanne Lynn, Loretta Ryan, (Lynn) Nolan, Jr …   Enciclopedia Universal