Authentic Wisconsin.  Lynn Fontanne

Lynn Fontanne was born on 6 December 1887 in Woodford, London, England.

Lynn Fontanne - British-born American-based actress; was born on 6 December 1887 in Woodford, London, England, but married Wisconsinite, Alfred Lunt in 1922. Fontanne had a long-time professional partnership with her husband and is considered one of the great leading ladies of the 20th century.

Fontanne became celebrated for her skill as an actress in high comedy, excelling in witty roles written for her by Noël Coward, S.N. Behrman, and Robert Sherwood. However, she enjoyed one of the greatest critical successes of her career as Nina Leeds, the desperate heroine of Eugene O'Neill's controversial nine-act drama Strange Interlude 1928.

Fontanne and her husband, Alfred Lunt, whom she married on May 26, 1922, in New York City, were the pre-eminent Broadway acting couple. They appeared together in more than twenty plays and were featured, posthumously, on an American postage stamp. In 1938, Fontanne appeared in Chekhov's The Seagull (in which she played Arkadina, Lunt played Trigorin, and fellow Wisconsinite, Uta Hagen made her Broadway debut in the role of Nina at the age of 18.)

For most of her career, Fontanne acted exclusively in vehicles also starring her husband. Among their greatest theater triumphs were Design for Living (1933), The Taming of the Shrew (1935–36), Idiot's Delight (1936), There Shall Be No Night (1940), and Quadrille (1952). Their last performance on Broadway was at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre where they starred in 189 performances of The Visit.

The Lunts starred in four television productions in the 1950s and 1960s with both Fontanne and Lunt winning Emmy Awards in 1965 for The Magnificent Yankee,

Awards and nominations include:

  • 1932 Academy Award Nomination, Best Actress in a Leading Role, The Guardsman
  • 1959 Tony Award nominaton for Best Actress (Dramatic) for "The Visit."
  • 1964 Lunt and Fontanne were presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon Johnson.
  • 1965 Winner Primetime Emmy, Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment - Actors and Performers (for her portrayal of Fanny Bowditch Holmes) in The Magnificent Yankee.
  • 1967 Nominee Primetime Emmy, Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Drama (for playing the Grand Duchess Marie) in "Anastasia"
  • 1970 Special Tony Award that she shared with her husband, Alfred Lunt.
  • Fontanne and Lunt are original members of the American Theater Hall of Fame which was founded in 1972.

The Famous Couple's Wisconsin Home was called Ten Chimneys.

During their careers, Fontanne and Lunt retreated to Ten Chimneys every summer for personal and artistic rejuvenation. A host of stage and screen luminaries made pilgrimages to Genesee Depot as guests of the Lunts, including Noël Coward, Helen Hayes, Laurence Olivier, and Vivien Leigh. Carol Channing said, "If you get to go to Ten Chimneys, you must have done something right."

Upon retirement, the Lunts returned to Ten Chimneys and spent the rest of their lives at their beloved home in Genesee Depot.

For more information on Lynn Fontanne, visit Wikipedia.

Buy books about the Lunts at Amazon. (Click on image below to browse.)


↩  Back to Famous Wisconsinites


Famous Wisconsinites

Lynn Fontanne
Actress. Fontanne along with her husband, Alfred Lunt, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in by President Lyndon Johnson.

Publicity shot from 1952 showing Lynn Fontanne starring as Serena Heronden in the play Quadrille by Noël Coward.

Above: Publicity shot from 1952 showing Lynn Fontanne starring as Serena Heronden in the play Quadrille by Noël Coward.

Alfred Lunt with his actress wife, Lynn Fontanne.

Above: Photo of Lynne Fontanne and Alfred Lunt in 1941. The couple were the pre-eminent Broadway acting couple of American history.

Lunt-Fontanne Theater.

Above: Lunt-Fontanne Theater located at 205 West 46th Street in midtown Manhattan. Photo licensed under the Creative Commons - Elisa Rolle. Originally called the Globe Theater, it was rechristened as the Lunt-Fontanne in honor of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne and reopened on May 5, 1958 with Friedrich Dürrenmatt's The Visit, starring the distinguished theatrical couple.

Ten Chimneys in Genesee Depot.

Above: Ten Chimneys was the home of Broadway actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. The property is located in Genesee Depot in the Town of Genesee in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. Fontanne died at Ten Chimneys on July 30, 1983 at the age of 95. Photo licensed under the Creative Commons - James Steakley.

For more information on Ten Chimneys in Genesee, Wisconsin, visit:

Above: The original 1931 trailer for The Guardsman starring Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne.

↩   Back to Famous Wisconsinites