Biography

Nora Dunfee was best known in the entertainment industry as a dialect coach and speech consultant, but she also occasionally appeared in feature films as a bit player, most notably as the elderly Southern woman who gave advice to Tom Hanks at the bus stop in Forrest Gump (1994). She also appeared in Lorenzo's Oil while consulting for star Susan Sarandon. Dunfee was working as Sissy Spacek's dialogue coach and preparing for her own role in Charles Matthau's adaptation of Truman Capote's The Grass Harp when she became ill and had to leave the shoot. Born Marjorie Dean Dunfee in Belmont, OH, she started out at Maine's esteemed Ogunquit Playhouse, starring in Sinclair Lewis' production of Our Town. This led to performances on and off-Broadway, as well as in theaters across the country, that continued until the late '80s and included a 1981 appearance in The Gin Game with David Clarke, her husband since 1946. Dunfee studied speech and voice under Margaret Prendergast McLean. Dunfee was a master teacher in the Graduate Acting Program of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and had worked there since 1966. She also taught private lessons in New York and California. Her clientele included Raul Julia, Mel Gibson, Diane Keaton, Barbara Hershey, and Tuesday Weld. James Earl Jones, with a lifelong stuttering problem when not acting, had been her student since the 1950s. Other films on which she worked as a coach and consultant include Witness (1985), Crimes of the Heart (1986), and The Serpent and the Rainbow (1987). Her last consulting job was on the film Rob Roy (1995). ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi