The Lunts

Treading the boards

When we think of acting duos of the stage and screen, they’re almost always broadly comic: Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis. Unless we’re speaking of the Lunts — husband Alfred and wife Lynn Fontanne . Their brand of sophisticated comedy was the envy of their peers and the delight of theatergoers from 1924, when they appeared in their greatest hit, Molnar’s “The Guardsman,” to 1958, when they ended their joint career with Durrenmatt’s “The Visit.” Though scrupulously crafted, their performances offered the illusion of spontaneity, and there was nothing artificial about their onstage intimacy. Utterly devoted to the theater, they spurned Hollywood offers after a movie version of “Guardsman” (1931) and for years took shows on the road to far-flung destinations throughout America.

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