A Binding Contract

Theresa waved a telegram in the air as she met Lawrence at the entrance of a little theater on 46th street. His arms were pressing a binder full of papers to his chest.

“Is that what I think it is?” Lawrence asked.

“I daresay we’ve enacted a coup, Mr. Langner,” Theresa answered in a mock secretive whisper.

“They’ve signed?” he yelled back, raising his hands into the air and letting the binder fall. “But how? They could command a ransom and the best we offered was a third of what they normally take!”

“Well, first off,” Theresa replied seriously, “they truly believe in the importance of what we’re trying to accomplish in releasing these non-commercial works to the public. Also, there are two additional clauses...”

Lawrence squinted.

“The first one says they don’t work summers.”



“Okay. And the other?”

900 miles west of Broadway, in an undeveloped and verdant area of Wisconsin, Lynn waved a crisp white paper in the air as Alfred approached.

“Is that what I think it is?” he asked, smiling.

“Telegram for Mr. Lunt! Shall I read it? The Theater Guild... etcetera ...promising scripts, controversial topics... ah, here it is: No appearances during the summer months... aaand... never to appear in separate plays but to always be cast together!”

“Never apart, then?”


They took their contract as binding as they took their marriage, which lasted 55 years. Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, the most revered acting team of American theater, spent every breathing minute together: on stage, radio, film, television, and at their Ten Chimneys estate; in love with acting and abundantly more so with each other. When Anastasia aired on March 17, 1967, it was the first time in 39 years that Lynn appeared publicly without her retired husband at her side.


cyurkanin said...

There seems to be some formatting problems on blogger tonight, sorry about the distracting spaces between words and lines!

Karinann said...

Thanks for the history of this lovely old theater. I was just there this past summer. I took my sister to see the Addams Family. It was a fun blast from our past.
Unfortunately with the price of theater tickets being what they are, it is a rare treat.

cyurkanin said...

I think you're probably talking about the Lunt/Fontanne theater, previously the Globe? Pretty neat to have seen a show there, it's pretty old. And it's interesting to note that the last performaces they did on stage together was at the first show of the newly named theater in their honor.

Cló Mhuire said...

Very interesting to read about the Theater Guild, and what a beautiful love story - a real love story!

cyurkanin said...

Thanks! Though I'm not particularly a fan of the genre of playwrights they promoted, it was a remarkable venture. The love story is both much more appealing to me and much more of an enigma. By all accounts, these two were as genuinely in love in a way rarely ever seen in man and wife.

Enbrethiliel said...


The last I heard, too much togetherness kills a marriage and spouses need "space" from each other. (No, I wasn't watching Oprah, but perhaps I might as well have been.) Then comes this story . . . and now my memory is dredging up another about two married physicists who said they liked being able to talk shop at home.

And I was just reading a book by a biologist who said that it's hard to find love when you work in that field, because only another biologist really understands when dinner is two hours late on account of a fascinating battle between an ant and a fly. She ended up being "married" to a barn owl she had to adopt because he wouldn't have been able to survive in the wild. (Yes, "married"--scare quotes and all. He would mate with her arm--and she would let him so she could collect samples for the lab--and try to feed her mice and attack her human boyfriends if he didn't like the look of them. The best part was when she broke up with a guy she thought was going to be the one. She ended up weeping into her loving owl's faithful feathers. If he had been a flamingo, she would have been the happiest woman in the world.)

This probably isn't the comment you were looking for, was it?

But google "Wesley the Owl," anyway.

cyurkanin said...

Ma'am, but I wouldn't consider this pairing to be average. They, I think anyway, experienced the unique finding of that perfect love, the one that every soul spends its eternity seeking, where every minute deprived of it is torture. Most of the time, people think they've found it only to end up bearing with the resignation that living brings. And I don't think it's anything I'm projecting but I'm just going by the endless consistent descriptions of them.

Will have to check out "Wesley" though, thanks for the direction!

Enbrethiliel said...


They do sound extraordinary. I wonder how many others like them there have been in the world.

cyurkanin said...

Western Lit is filled with the idea of the perfect love, usually tragic (Romeo & Juliet, Tristan & Isolde, Paris & Helen, etc.) and history is often twisted to portray it (Napolean & Josephine, Antony & Cleopatra, etc.) but there are more than a few other true examples by which to judge, like C S Lewis & Joy Davidman, Edward VIII of England & Wallis Simpson, and Pierre & Marie Curie just from this last century.

Enbrethiliel said...


Christopher, don't kill me now, but . . . every time I see David Bowie and Iman together--or hear either of them talk about the other in an interview--I remember this post!

cyurkanin said...

LOL You and your David Bowie kick! I did listen to a lot of him growing up and still turn up the volume to eleven when a few of his old songs come on so there'll be no killing here. And don't tell anyone but I snuck a tape recorder in my pants when I went to see him during his Glass Spider tour (back then men were still afraid to pat down another man's "junk" during the searches at the gate). I wonder what I ever did with that recording.

Enbrethiliel said...


Ah, the good old days when people left other people's "junk" alone!

I remember that back in the 90s a certain boy band came to the Philippines. (No, not that boy band . . . and no, I didn't go to the concert.) My classmates who had tickets wanted to take pictures, but cameras weren't allowed. So what they did was hide their cameras in, uh, the packaging of a hygiene product for women. The security guards weren't about to pull those apart in their bag search, and so the concert was filled with distracting camera flashes.

But these days, everyone brings sophisticated cell phones and some people record virtually the whole concert--audio and video--and have it up on YouTube within hours. We're old now, Uncle Chris!

cyurkanin said...

"Ah, the good old days when people left other people's "junk" alone!" + "We're old now, Uncle Chris!" LOL! That's twice this week now that you've had me spitting my drink on my monitor.