Born in Belmont, Ohio, Dunfee began her professional acting career at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Ogunquit, Maine, starring in Sinclair Lewis's production of "Our Town". Her stage credits on- and off-broadway include "Madam, Will You Walk?" (1953), "The Midnight Caller" (1958), "The Visit" (1960), "The Last Days of Lincoln" (1961) and "Crowbar" (1990). She also appeared in several films, most notably as the elderly lady at the bus stop who gives Tom Hanks advice in Forrest Gump.
Dunfee studied speech and voice under Margaret Prendergast McLean and taught for many years in the graduate acting program of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She also taught privately in New York and California and coached many actors over the years, including Julie Haydon, James Earl Jones, Raul Julia, Diane Keaton, Mel Gibson and Keanu Reeves. In theater, she was a vocal consultant for "The Real Thing". "Two Gentlemen of Verona" and "A Lie of the Mind", and cinematically, she served as dialect coach for such films as Witness, Crimes of the Heart, and The Serpent and the Rainbow.
Dunfee met her future husband, David Clarke, in an acting class and the two married in 1946. The couple appeared together in a number of stage productions, including "Portrait of a Lady", "The Visit" and "The Gin Game". Clarke and Dunfee had two daughters together, K.C. and Susan.
Her last consulting job was on the film Rob Roy (1995). 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. She died of complications after a brief illness at the age of 78 at St. Clare's Hospital and Health Center in Manhattan.
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