Lunt, Alfred, 1892-1977

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Alfred Davis Lunt Jr. (August 12, 1892 – August 3, 1977) was an American stage director and actor who had a long-time professional partnership with his wife, actress Lynn Fontanne. Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre was named for them. Lunt received two Tony Awards, an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for 1931's The Guardsman and an Emmy Award for the Hallmark Hall of Fame's production of The Magnificent Yankee.

Lunt was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1892 to Alfred D. Lunt and Harriet Washburn Briggs. He became a star in 1919 as the buffoonish lead in Booth Tarkington's play Clarence, but soon distinguished himself in a variety of roles. The roles included the Earl of Essex in Maxwell Anderson's Elizabeth the Queen, a song-and-dance man touring the Balkans in Robert E. Sherwood's Idiot's Delight, a megalomaniacal tycoon in S.N. Behrman's Meteor, and Jupiter in Jean Giraudoux's Amphitryon 38. His appearances in classical drama were infrequent, but he scored successes in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew and Chekhov's The Seagull (in which Lunt played Trigorin, his wife played Arkadina, and Uta Hagen made her Broadway debut in the role of Nina).

He and his wife Lynn Fontanne, whom he married on May 26, 1922, in New York City, were the pre-eminent Broadway acting couple. Secure in their public image as a happily married couple, they could play adulterers, as in Robert Sherwood's Reunion in Vienna, or as part of a ménage à trois in Noël Coward's Design for Living. (The latter, written for the Lunts, was so risqué, with its theme of bisexuality and a ménage à trois, that Coward premiered it in New York, knowing it would not survive the censor in London.) The Lunts appeared together in more than 20 plays. They also were featured posthumously on an American postage stamp.

The couple made three films together: Second Youth (1924), The Guardsman (1931), in which they starred, and Stage Door Canteen (1943) in which they had cameos as themselves. In 1958, they retired from the stage. They starred in several radio dramas for the Theatre Guild in the 1940s and starred in a few television productions in the 1950s and 1960s. Summers, during their days of performing on stage and their retirement years, were spent at their home Ten Chimneys in Genesee Depot, Wisconsin.In 1964, Lunt and Fontanne were presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon Johnson, and both are represented in the American Theatre Hall of Fame.

Alfred Lunt died August 3, 1977 in Chicago from cancer. He is buried next to his wife at Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was the third person for whom the house lights were dimmed in all Broadway theaters following his death.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Wilson, John C. John C. Wilson theater collection on Noel Coward, 1931-1955. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Sir, Michael Redgrave, Archive, 1890-1996 V&A Museum: Department of Theatre and Performance
referencedIn Rouben Mamoulian Papers, 1740-1987, (bulk 1906-1987) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Philippe Halsman theatrical photographs, 1947-1969 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Joseph Edward Davies Papers, 1860-1958, (bulk 1912-1958) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn New Yorker records, ca.1924-1984 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Lavery, Emmet, 1902-1986. Papers, 1925-1965. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Fay family. Papers, 1800-1953 (inclusive), 1859-1953 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Margaret Webster Papers, 1837-1974, (bulk 1937-1970) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Mamoulian, Rouben. Rouben Mamoulian papers, 1740-1987 (bulk 1906-1987). Library of Congress
referencedIn Gomez, Thomas, 1905-1971. Thomas Gomez papers, 1939-1971. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Lunt, Alfred. Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne papers, 1838-1983. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Jo Mielziner papers, 1903-1976 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Wolff, Perry. Papers, 1945-1989. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Weill, Kurt, 1900-1950. The papers of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, 1890-1984 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
referencedIn Register to the Papers of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, 1890-1984, inclusive Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University
referencedIn Auer, James. James Matthew Auer photographs, 1977. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Papers, 1912-1970 (inclusive), 1912-1954 (bulk). Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Weill, Kurt, 1900-1950. Weill-Lenya correspondence, 1925-1948. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
referencedIn Samuel and Bella Spewack Papers, ca.1920-1980 Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
referencedIn Montgomery Clift papers, 1933-1966 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Players records, 1848-1941 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Meiere, M. Hildreth, d. 1961. Hildreth Meière papers, 1901-1954. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Worcester Dramatic Museum. Papers, 1732-1995. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Lunt, Alfred. Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne papers, 1838-1983. Wisconsin Historical Society
referencedIn Davies, Joseph Edward. Joseph Edward Davies papers, 1860-1958 (bulk 1912-1958). Library of Congress
referencedIn American Museum of the Moving Image. Scrapbooks, 1919-1936, 1919-1930 (bulk) Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Hewitt, Alan. Papers, 1930-1986. New Hampshire Newsp Project
referencedIn Theatre Arts Monthly, collection of portraits, ca., ca., 1924-1939 (bulk), 1916-1964 (inclusive). Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Elisabeth Fraser papers, 1920-1999 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Hellman, Florence Marx. Theatrical diaries kept by Florence Marx Hellman, 1903-1942. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Baring, Maurice, 1874-1945. Letter to Mr. Lunt, 23rd July, 1929 : typed. University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Library System
referencedIn Hull, Josephine, 1877-1957. Papers, 1899-1960 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Lunt, Alfred. Letter to [Edward C.] Mabie. [s.l.]. 1935 Nov. 25. University of Iowa Libraries
referencedIn Hart, Moss, 1904-1961. Moss Hart and Kitty Carlisle papers, 1922-1962, 1988. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Aaron Frankel Papers, 1948-1977. Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
referencedIn Robert Benney research materials, 1926-1978 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn George Oppenheimer papers, 1943-1977 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn S. N. Behrman papers, 1912-1987 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Emmet family. Emmet family papers, 1792-1989 (bulk 1851-1989). Archives of American Art
creatorOf Lunt, Alfred, 1893-1977. Autograph letter and typewritten letter signed "Alfred" : Genesee Depot, Wisconsin, to Charles Ryskamp, [n.d.] and 1972 Aug. 28. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Bagnold, Enid. Enid Bagnold papers, 1912-1971. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn John Mason Brown papers, 1922-1967. Houghton Library
referencedIn Papers, 1899-1960 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Lunt, Alfred. Lunt-Fontanne golden anniversary souvenir booklet, 1972. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Bourneuf, Philip, 1912-1980. Philip Bourneuf collection, 1920-1970. Boston University. School of Medicine
referencedIn Herman Buchman papers, 1939-1990 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Lunt, Alfred, 1893-1977. Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne letters to Katharine Cornell and Nancy Hamilton, 1941-1980. University of Michigan
creatorOf Meiere, M. Hildreth, d. 1961. Hildreth Meière papers, 1901-1999. Archives of American Art
creatorOf Lunt, Alfred. Lunt/Fontanne recordings from the collection of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts [sound recording] Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Guide to the Daily Worker and Daily World Photographs Collection, 1920-2001 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Frankel, Aaron. Aaron Frankel papers, 1948-1977. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn John Eldon Thayer collection of motion picture memorabilia, 1916-1979. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Windust, Bretaigne, 1906-1960. Bretaigne Windust collection, 1929-1958. Princeton University Library
referencedIn Howard D. Rothschild papers, 1921-1989. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn John C. Wilson Theater Collection on Noel Coward, 1931-1955 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn E. Martin (Elliott Martin) Browne papers, 1925-1975. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Robert Benney original drawings, 1926-1947 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Enid Bagnold papers, 1912-1971 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Katharine Cornell papers, 1801-1983, dates, 1921-1974 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Emmet family papers, 1792-1989 (bulk 1851-1989) Archives of American Art
creatorOf Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies. Minneapolis Unit. Committee records, 1940-1942. Minnesota Historical Society Library
referencedIn Lindsay, Howard, 1889-1968. Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse papers, 1909-1968, 1980. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Ward Morehouse papers, 1877-1966, 1924-1966 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Choate, Edward, 1908-1975. Papers, 1923-1973. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn O'Brien family. Collection, circa 1880-2000. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Souvenir programs for theatrical productions, 1906-2005. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Alexander Woollcott correspondence, ca. 1856-1943 (inclusive), 1920-1943 (bulk). Houghton Library
creatorOf Stevens, Ashton. Ashton Stevens papers 1850-1952, bulk 1920-1940. Newberry Library
referencedIn Frederick Wagner autograph collection, 1917-1961. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Cornell, Katharine. Katharine Cornell Papers 1801-1983 (Bulk dates 1921-1974). New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Playwrights' Company records, 1938-1960 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Robert E. Sherwood papers, 1917-1968 (inclusive), 1934-1955 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Romney Brent papers, 1934-1975 (bulk dates 1969-1975 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Lunt, Alfred. Alfred Lunt letters to various recipients, 1940-1956 and undated. Houghton Library
referencedIn Maurice Zolotow papers The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Morehouse, Ward, 1898-1966. Ward Morehouse papers, 1877-1966 bulk (1924-1966). New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Will Rapport papers, 1931-1964. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Small Music and Theater Scrapbooks, 1924-1947 Cleveland Public Library
referencedIn Margaret Webster Papers, 1837-1974, (bulk 1937-1970) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Frederick R. Koch collection of photographs of stage and screen actors and entertainers, ca. 1920-1979. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Oppenheimer, George. Papers, 1943-1977. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Miscellaneous theatrical papers, 1673-1976. Houghton Library
creatorOf Behrman, S. N. (Samuel Nathaniel), 1893-1973. S. N. Behrman papers, 1912-1987. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn American Vaudeville Museum collection, 1845-2007, (bulk 1910-1940) University of Arizona Libraries, Library Special Collections
creatorOf Lunt, Alfred. Letters, to Bennett Weaver, 1909-1915, 1931-1950. University of Michigan
referencedIn Players (New York, N.Y.). Pipe Night tape collection, 1963-1986. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Papers, 1800-1953 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Players (Club). Players records, 1848-1941. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Hewitt, Alan. Interviews concerning Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne [sound recording]. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Spewack, Samuel and Bella. Papers, ca.1920-1980. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Weill, Kurt, 1900-1950. The papers of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, 1890-1984 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
referencedIn Playwrights' Company. Records, 1938-1960. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
creatorOf Conant, Kenneth John, 1894-1984. Kenneth John Conant papers relating to Alfred Lunt, 1909-1977 Houghton Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Museum of the Moving Image. corporateBody
associatedWith American Museum of Vaudeville corporateBody
associatedWith Auer, James. person
associatedWith Bagnold, Enid. person
associatedWith Baring, Maurice, 1874-1945. person
associatedWith Bean, Mr., person
associatedWith Beaton, Cecil, 1904-1980. person
associatedWith Beaumont, Hugh, 1908-1973. person
associatedWith Behrman, S. N. (Samuel Nathaniel), 1893-1973. person
associatedWith Benney, Robert, 1904-2001 person
associatedWith Boston (Mass.). Castle Square Theatre. corporateBody
associatedWith Bourneuf, Philip, 1912-1980. person
associatedWith Brent, Romney, 1902-1975 person
correspondedWith Browne, E. Martin (Elliott Martin), 1900- person
correspondedWith Brown, John Mason, 1900-1969 person
correspondedWith Brown, John Mason, 1900-1969 person
associatedWith Buchman, Herman person
associatedWith Choate, Edward, 1908-1975. person
associatedWith Cleveland Public Library Literature Department corporateBody
associatedWith Clift, Montgomery person
associatedWith Colefax, Sibyl. person
associatedWith Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies. Minneapolis Unit. corporateBody
associatedWith Communist Party of the United States of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Conant, Kenneth John, 1894-1984 person
correspondedWith Cornell, Katharine. person
associatedWith Cornell, Katharine, 1893-1974. person
associatedWith Coward, Noel, 1899-1973. person
associatedWith Crouse, Russel, 1893-1966. person
associatedWith Cullen, Frank, 1936- person
correspondedWith Davies, Joseph Edward. person
associatedWith Emmet family family
associatedWith Emmet family. family
associatedWith Fay family. family
associatedWith FAY FAMILY family
associatedWith Ferber, Edna, 1887-1968. person
associatedWith Fontanne, Lynn. person
associatedWith Forbes, Brenda, 1909- person
associatedWith Frankel, Aaron. person
associatedWith Frankel, Aaron. person
associatedWith Fraser, Elisabeth person
associatedWith Gielgud, John, Sir, 1904- . person
associatedWith Gomez, Thomas, 1905-1971. person
associatedWith Gordon, Ruth, 1896- . person
associatedWith Halsman, Philippe person
associatedWith Hamilton, Nancy, 1908-1985. person
associatedWith Hart, Moss, 1904-1961. person
associatedWith Hayes, Helen, 1900-1993. person
associatedWith Hellman, Florence Marx. person
associatedWith Hewitt, Alan. person
associatedWith Hull, Josephine, 1877-1957. person
associatedWith JOSEPHINE (SHERWOOD) HULL, 1877(?)-1957 person
associatedWith Koch, Frederick R. (Frederick Robinson), collector. person
correspondedWith Komisarjevsky, Theodore, 1882-1954 person
associatedWith Lavery, Emmet, 1902-1986. person
associatedWith Leigh, Vivien, 1913-1967. person
associatedWith Lenya, Lotte person
associatedWith Lindsay, Howard, 1889-1968. person
associatedWith Mabie, Edward Charles, 1892-1956, person
associatedWith Mamoulian, Rouben. person
associatedWith McClintic, Guthrie, 1893-1961. person
associatedWith McNeilly, Donald, 1945- person
associatedWith Meiere, M. Hildreth, d. 1961. person
associatedWith Mielziner, Jo, 1901-1976 person
associatedWith Morehouse, Ward, 1898-1966. person
associatedWith Nesbitt, Cathleen, 1888-1982. person
associatedWith New Yorker Magazine, Inc corporateBody
associatedWith O'Brien family. family
associatedWith Olivier, Laurence, 1907-1989. person
associatedWith Oppenheimer, George. person
associatedWith Phil, person
associatedWith Players (Club) corporateBody
associatedWith Players (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Playwrights' Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Rankin, May. person
associatedWith Rapport, Will. person
associatedWith Rattigan, Terence. person
correspondedWith Redgrave, Michael person
associatedWith Robertson, W. Graham (Walford Graham), 1866-1948. person
correspondedWith Rothschild, Howard D. person
associatedWith Ryskamp, Charles, person
associatedWith Sederholm, Harriet Washborn Briggs, 1862- person
correspondedWith Sherwood, Robert E. (Robert Emmet), 1896-1955 person
associatedWith Sherwood, Robert E. (Robert Emmet), 1896-1955. person
associatedWith Spewack, Samuel, 1899-1971 person
associatedWith Spewack, Samuel and Bella. person
associatedWith Stevens, Ashton. person
associatedWith Stone, P. M., person
associatedWith Tarkington, Booth, 1869-1946. person
associatedWith Thayer, John Eldon, 1899-1980 person
associatedWith Wagner, Frederick, collector. person
associatedWith Weaver, Andrew. person
associatedWith Weaver, Bennett, 1892-1970. person
associatedWith Weaver, Clarice Colby. person
correspondedWith Webster, Margaret, 1905-1972. person
associatedWith Weill, Kurt, 1900-1950. person
associatedWith Wilder, Thornton, 1897-1975. person
associatedWith Wilson, John C. person
associatedWith Wilson, John C. person
associatedWith Windust, Bretaigne, 1906-1960. person
associatedWith Wolff, Perry. person
associatedWith Woollcott, Alexander, 1887-1943. person
associatedWith Worcester Dramatic Museum. corporateBody
associatedWith Zolotow, Maurice person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Television programs
Actors--Correspondence
Actors
Actresses--Correspondence
Theater
Occupation
Actors
Function

Person

Birth 1892-08-12

Death 1977-08-03

Americans

Information

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SNAC ID: 85397321