The Fabulous Lunts
Wisconsin-born Alfred Lunt and British-born Lynn Fontanne both started from humble beginnings but became phenomenally successful in the United States and Britain. They were famous for their performances together in light comedy, in which they perfected their timing and their technique of “overlapping dialogue.” They felt a professional obligation, however, to attempt controversial and financially risky productions as well. They knew everyone of importance in the British and American theater, and THE FABULOUS LUNTS is spiced with numerous miniature portraits of such interesting personalities as Helen Hayes, Robert E. Sherwood, Montgomery Clift, Alexander Woollcott, and their lifelong friend, actor/playwright Noel Coward.
The love the Lunts shared for the theater was the foundation of their love for each other. One envious actress complained: “How can any other actors expect to play together as well as Alfred and Lynn? They rehearse in bed!” They were happily married from 1922 until Lunt’s death in 1977. When Fontanne died in 1983, she left an estate valued at nearly two million dollars, in spite of the fact that the couple had always lived on a lavish scale and were notably generous with their time and money.
Jared Brown, a professor of theater at Western Illinois University, writes with ease and authority. Most of the sixteen chapters of his book are devoted to detailed accounts of how the Lunts became interested in specific plays,...
(The entire section is 348 words.)
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