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Thread: Actor Charles Durning dead at 89

  1. #1
    Elite Member HWBL's Avatar
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    Default Actor Charles Durning dead at 89

    Source: Daily Mail

    Charles Durning the 'king of character actors' dies aged 89 in New York of 'natural causes'


    • The Tootsie star died yesterday, his friend and agent Judith Moss announced
    • Starred in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and To Be Or Not To Be
    • He is survived by his children, Michele, Douglas and Jeannine


    Two-time Oscar nominee Charles Durning - dubbed the king of the character actors - has died aged 89.

    The Tootsie star died yesterday of natural causes at his New York City home.

    Durning is best known for role as a corrupt governor in 1982's The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which earned him an Academy Award nomination.

    He was nominated a second time a year later for his performance as a bumbling Nazi official in Mel Brook's To Be Or Not To Be.

    His longtime agent and friend, Judith Moss, announced today that he had died at his home in the borough of Manhattan.

    He is survived by his children, Michele, Douglas and Jeannine.

    In 2008, Durning said he never wanted to stop working.

    He said: 'They're going to carry me out, if I go.'

    During his 50-year-career, Durning also won plaudits for his stage performances and received a Tony award in 1990 for his portrayal of Big Daddy in a Broadway revival of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.

    He was decorated in the Second World War but refused to speak of his experiences.

    'Too many bad memories,' he told an interviewer in 1997. 'I don't want you to see me crying.'

    He won a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts during the Second World War and was among the first wave of US soldiers in the D Day Landings and was later taken prisoner.


    Born in 1923, the O Brother Where Art Thou actor grew up in poverty in New York and lost five of his nine siblings to disease.

    At school he was told he had no talent for art, languages or maths and should learn office skills.

    But after seeing King Kong and some of James Cagney's films, he knew he wanted to perform.

    Durning began his career as an usher at a burlesque theatre in Buffalo, New York, when he replaced a comedian who was too drunk to go on stage.

    He would recall years later that he was hooked as soon as he heard the audience laughing.

    He started working on the stage and after years of minor roles, Durning gained national attention as a mayor in the Pulitzer and Tony-winning play That Championship Season in 1972.

    Durning transferred to the big screen and gained fame as Dustin Hoffman's would-be suitor in Tootsie, the infamous seller of frog legs in The Muppet Movie and as Chief Brandon in Dick Tracy.

    'I never turned down anything and never argued with any producer or director,' he said in 2008, when he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

    Durning and his first wife had three children before divorcing in 1972. In 1974, he married his high school sweetheart, Mary Ann Amelio.

    The family plan to have a private service and burial at Arlington National Cemetery.


    Last edited by HWBL; December 25th, 2012 at 08:44 AM.
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  2. #2
    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    UGH! Some Christmas! I liked this guy too - terrific character actor. Loved him as Jessica Lange's father in "Tootsie", who falls for Dustin Hoffman's alter ego. Damn.

    Glad to see the Arlington burial though - it sounds like he deserves it. What we don't know about people......
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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    He was a real Braveheart. RIP, you sweet man. You were wonderful to watch.
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    Gold Member Catty's Avatar
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    Default Charles Durning, Oscar-nominated king of the character actors, dies at 89 in NYC

    LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Charles Durning, the two-time Oscar nominee who was dubbed the king of the character actors for his skill in playing everything from a Nazi colonel to the pope, died Monday at his home in New York City. He was 89.

    Durning's longtime agent and friend, Judith Moss, told The Associated Press that he died Monday of natural causes in his home in the borough of Manhattan.

    Although he portrayed everyone from blustery public officials to comic foils to put-upon everymen, Durning may be best remembered by movie audiences for his Oscar-nominated, over-the-top role as a comically corrupt governor in 1982's "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas."

    Many critics marveled that such a heavyset man could be so nimble in the film's show-stopping song-and-dance number, not realizing Durning had been a dance instructor early in his career. Indeed, he had met his first wife, Carol, when both worked at a dance studio.

    The year after "Best Little Whorehouse," Durning received another Oscar nomination, for his portrayal of a bumbling Nazi officer in Mel Brooks' "To Be or Not to Be." He was also nominated for a Golden Globe as the harried police lieutenant in 1975's "Dog Day Afternoon."

    He won a Golden Globe as best supporting TV actor in 1991 for his portrayal of John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald in the TV film "The Kennedys of Massachusetts" and a Tony in 1990 as Big Daddy in the Broadway revival of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

    Durning had begun his career on stage, getting his first big break when theatrical producer Joseph Papp hired him for the New York Shakespeare Festival.

    He went on to work regularly, if fairly anonymously, through the 1960s until his breakout role as a small town mayor in the Pulitzer- and Tony Award-winning play "That Championship Season" in 1972.

    He quickly made an impression on movie audiences the following year as the crooked cop stalking con men Paul Newman and Robert Redford in the Oscar-winning comedy "The Sting."

    Dozens of notable portrayals followed. He was the would-be suitor of Dustin Hoffman, posing as a female soap opera star in "Tootsie;" the infamous seller of frog legs in "The Muppet Movie;" and Chief Brandon in Warren Beatty's "Dick Tracy." He played Santa Claus in four different movies made for television and was the pope in the TV film "I Would be Called John: Pope John XXIII."

    "I never turned down anything and never argued with any producer or director," Durning told The Associated Press in 2008, when he was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

    Other films included "The Front Page," ''The Hindenburg," ''Breakheart Pass," ''North Dallas Forty," ''Starting Over," ''Tough Guys," ''Home for the Holidays," ''Spy Hard" and 'O Brother Where Art Thou?"

    Durning also did well in television as a featured performer as well as a guest star. He appeared in the short-lived series "The Cop and the Kid" (1975), "Eye to Eye" (1985) and "First Monday" (2002) as well as the four-season "Evening Shade" in the 1990s.

    "If I'm not in a part, I drive my wife crazy," he acknowledged during a 1997 interview. "I'll go downstairs to get the mail, and when I come back I'll say, 'Any calls for me?'"

    Durning's rugged early life provided ample material on which to base his later portrayals. He was born into an Irish family of 10 children in 1923, in Highland Falls, N.Y., a town near West Point. His father was unable to work, having lost a leg and been gassed during World War I, so his mother supported the family by washing the uniforms of West Point cadets.

    The younger Durning himself would barely survive World War II.

    He was among the first wave of U.S. soldiers to land at Normandy during the D-Day invasion and the only member of his Army unit to survive. He killed several Germans and was wounded in the leg. Later he was bayoneted by a young German soldier whom he killed with a rock. He was captured in the Battle of the Bulge and survived a massacre of prisoners.

    In later years, he refused to discuss the military service for which he was awarded the Silver Star and three Purple Hearts.

    "Too many bad memories," he told an interviewer in 1997. "I don't want you to see me crying."

    Tragedy also stalked other members of his family. Durning was 12 when his father died, and five of his sisters lost their lives to smallpox and scarlet fever.

    A high school counsellor told him he had no talent for art, languages or math and should learn office skills. But after seeing "King Kong" and some of James Cagney's films, Durning knew what he wanted to do.

    Leaving home at 16, he worked in a munitions factory, on a slag heap and in a barbed-wire factory. When he finally found work as a burlesque theatre usher in Buffalo, N.Y., he studied the comedians' routines, and when one of them showed up too drunk to go on one night, he took his place.

    He would recall years later that he was hooked as soon as heard the audience laughing. He told the AP in 2008 that he had no plans to stop working.

    "They're going to carry me out, if I go," he said.

    Durning and his first wife had three children before divorcing in 1972. In 1974, he married his high school sweetheart, Mary Ann Amelio.

    He is survived by his children, Michele, Douglas and Jeannine. The family planned to have a private family service and burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

    Source: Charles Durning, Oscar-nominated king of the character actors, dies at 89 in NYC - Yahoo! News Canada

  5. #5
    Elite Member HWBL's Avatar
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    There's already a thread on this: Actor Charles Durning dead at 89
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    He was among the first wave of U.S. soldiers to land at Normandy during the D-Day invasion and the only member of his Army unit to survive. He killed several Germans and was wounded in the leg. Later he was bayoneted by a young German soldier whom he killed with a rock. He was captured in the [COLOR=#009900 !important]Battle of the Bulge[/COLOR] and survived a massacre of prisoners.
    Please pardon my language, but Charles Durning was the Motherfucking MAN!!!

  7. #7
    Gold Member Catty's Avatar
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    I guess search missed that one! Can someone please move to the other thread? Thanks!

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    God bless him! I loved him in everything he was in but especially on an episode of NCIS where he was a Medal of Honor veteran from WWII. Very moving episode.

    May he rest in peace.
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    I loved him on Rescue Me. RIP
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    He was a great actor. Loved him in Tootsie and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas! He seemed like a sweet and genuine man.

  11. #11
    Elite Member gas_chick's Avatar
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    RIP. What a great actor!
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    Elite Member Waterslide's Avatar
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    RIP Mr. Durning and thank you.
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