Charles Durning Dead at 89

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 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.

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 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.

From July to November 1972, Durning played Gil McGowan in ANOTHER WORLD, a role most associated with his successor Dolph Sweet.

Durnings primetime credits included THE DOCTORS AND THE NURSES, NOW AND AGAIN, EVENING SHADE, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, RESCUE ME and THE COP AND THE KID.

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.

4 comments:

  1. Reading through Durning's resume, seeing some of his film and TV performances, it's obvious that he was talented in those as well as theater and he didn't seem to mind being labelled as a character actor. Today, many movie and TV performers seem more enamored of being 'stars' rather than just talented actors. The likes of Durning, Gene Hackman and Richard Jenkins, most recently, are seemingly rare figures- actors who don't mind being referred to as 'character actors'. In dedication to his craft, clearly, Durning was indeed a man of character. Rest in peace.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sadly that Durning's death follows on the heels of the death of Larry L. King, who wrote The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which I can remember sneaking to watch the movie when it came to Cable television (my Mother wouldn't have been happy to know I was watching such an age inappropriate movie,she probably still won't today-LOL).

    ReplyDelete
  3. RIP. I was lucky enough to see Mr. Durning star in the West Coast production of On Golden Pond with Julie Harris. Very memorable.
    http://i46.tinypic.com/15o9pjp.jpg

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow FoxCrane that must have been terrific! For me, there's nothing like live theater.

    ReplyDelete