We're looking for contributors

Charles Durning Dies: Oscar-Nominated, Emmy-Nominated, Tony-Winning Actor

Charles DurningCharles Durning: Oscar-nominated, Tony-winning actor has died

Charles Durning, who romanced Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie, a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nominee for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and To Be or Not to Be, and a Life Achievement SAG Award recipient, died of "natural causes" on Christmas Eve at his home in Manhattan. Durning was 89. (Image: SAG Life Achievement Award recipient Charles Durning.)

According to reports, Charles Durning (born on Feb. 28, 1923, in Highland Falls, N.Y.) grew up in a large, poor Irish family, as his handicapped father was unable to get work. Five of his nine siblings succumbed to scarlet fever.

Other dramatic events in Durning's life included his taking part on World War II's D-Day invasion, being taken prisoner at the Battle of the Bulge, and, in an encounter not that different from a key scene found in Lewis Milestone's All Quiet on the Western Front, using a rock to kill a young German soldier who had attacked him with a bayonet.

Charles Durning's show business career began along the lines of a much lighter movie, 42nd Street, with Durning in the Ruby Keeler role. When one of the comedians at a Buffalo, N.Y., burlesque theater didn't show up, usher Durning was called to go up on stage. His big break, however, would come only in the late '50s / early '60s, when producer Joseph Papp had him hired as one of the New York Shakespeare Festival players.

Durning continued working regularly in minor stage roles until his portrayal of an inept, bigoted small-town mayor in Jason Miller's Pulitzer- and Tony Award-winning 1972 play That Championship Season, co-starring Richard Dysart and Paul Sorvino. Durning's personal success in That Championship Season helped to jumpstart his Hollywood career.

Charles Durning movies

Charles Durning's interest in movies reportedly began after he watched King Kong and several James Cagney movies. If so, he was about 10 or 11 – or perhaps in his mid-teens, in case he watched the 1938 King Kong rerelease – when he decided to become a film actor. He then had to wait about four decades for his big film break: a supporting role as a corrupt cop in George Roy Hill's 1973 Best Picture Oscar-winning blockbuster The Sting, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

Following The Sting, Durning's film career would remain in high gear for another 15 years, during which time he became a popular and well-regarded supporting player in dozens of movies.

As found on the IMDb, Charles Durning movie appearances of the '70s include those in Billy Wilder's The Front Page (1974), with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau; Sidney Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon (1975), starring Al Pacino, and for which Durning received a National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe nomination; and Robert Wise's The Hindenburg (1975), a role he particularly liked, opposite George C. Scott and Anne Bancroft. ("I did a few movies with Anne Bancroft, and that ain't chopped liver," Durning later recalled to then Screen Actors Guild president Alan Rosenberg. "She's a good lady and she went to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, like I did, but she graduated. She had talent.")

Also: J. Lee Thompson's The Greek Tycoon (1978), with Anthony Quinn and Jacqueline Bisset; Brian De Palma's The Fury (1978), with Kirk Douglas and John Cassavetes; Alan J. Pakula's Starting Over (1979), with Burt Reynolds and Jill Clayburgh; and Fred Walton's horror thriller When a Stranger Calls (1979), as the cop who rescues Carol Kane in the nick of time.

In Colin Higgins' 1982 box office hit The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas ($69.7 million in North America, approx. $188 million today), Charles Durning played The Governor, a corrupt politician with nimble feet. The musical comedy based on the smash Broadway hit starred Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton, but Durning – a former dance coach – was the one who stole the notices and earned an Oscar nod for his efforts. (Durning apparently also stole the show at a party at Burt Reynolds' house, when Fred Astaire asked him to dance. "So I danced with him," Durning told Alan Rosenberg. "He led me and I led him, and he patted me on the shoulder. Really nice man.")

["Tony-Winning, Emmy-Nominated, Oscar-Nominated Charles Durning Dies" continues on the next page. See link below.]

Charles Durning photo: © Screen Actors Guild.

If you found Charles Durning Dies: Oscar-Nominated, Emmy-Nominated, Tony-Winning Actor an informative post, please recommend it to your friends. See share buttons above and on the left.
And consider following Alt Film Guide on Facebook and/or joining the FB group All About Movies.
Charles Durning Dies: Oscar-Nominated, Emmy-Nominated, Tony-Winning Actor © 2004-2015 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s). Text NOT to be reproduced without prior written consent.

Continue Reading: Charles Durning: From Nazi Officer to Falling in Love with Dustin Hoffman

Previous Post: Jack Klugman Dead at 90: THE ODD COUPLE Golden Globe, Emmy Winner

Leave your comment about Charles Durning Dies: Oscar-Nominated, Emmy-Nominated, Tony-Winning Actor in the space below. Important: Different views and opinions are perfectly fine, but courtesy and respect are imperative. Abusive, bigoted, baseless, and/or inflammatory comments will be blocked and offenders may be banned.

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


"A Century Ago: The Films of 1906" in New York City
Roger Ebert Laments the 'Death' of Film Critics
Christoph Waltz Joins Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon: WATER FOR ELEPHANTS
Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner at TWILIGHT: ECLIPSE Convention
Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart: Edward and Bella in Forks - ECLIPSE Photo
SPEED-DATING: Easy Sex / True Love Comedy Now Playing
Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton: 1950s Audiences Didn't Understand Movie Editing
Actress-Filmmaker Kellie Madison's Grassroots Campaign to Fund Narrative Feature
ECLIPSE Wins Three People's Choice Awards; Katy Perry Affirms People Aren't Computers
Annette Bening, Al Pacino, Claire Danes, Jane Lynch, Trent Reznor (!): Golden Globe Winners
AVATAR Is Most Pirated Movie Ever (Also Biggest Modern Blockbuster, Biggest DVD Seller of 2010)
BEL AMI Trailer US: Robert Pattinson
Comic Con 2012: TWILIGHT Fan Dies
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES Screening: Man with Gun, Ammunition Arrested
BREAKING DAWN PART 2 Mass Shooting Planned, Discarded
Charles Durning: From Nazi Officer to Falling in Love with Dustin Hoffman
Bryce Dallas Howard: JURASSIC WORLD Star?
STAR WARS: EPISODE VII Cast Announced: Max von Sydow??