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Charles Durning: SAG Life Achievement Award

Charles Durning: SAG Life Achievement Award 2008

The Screen Actors Guild has announced that Charles Durning, 84, will receive the guild's Life Achievement Award at the 14th SAG Awards, to be held on Sunday, January 27, 2008. (Image: Charles Durning.)

Hardly a household name, Charles Durning is a somewhat curious choice for the SAG Life Achievement Award, which, especially in the last few years, has almost invariably gone to major film and/or television stars. Among the award's previous recipients are Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Martha Raye, Katharine Hepburn, Julie Andrews, Barbara Stanwyck, Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Redford, Gene Kelly, Angela Lansbury, Sidney Poitier, James Garner, Edward Asner, Ricardo Montalban, Pearl Bailey, Clint Eastwood, Shirley Temple, and Charlton Heston.

Charles Durning movies

Charles Durning, whose acting career spans more than half a century, has appeared in nearly 100 films, almost invariably in supporting roles. Those range from Harvey Middleman, Fireman, in 1965 all the way to this year's Polycarp.

Durning has been nominated twice for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award: for his tap dancing Texas governor in Colin Higgin's The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982), starring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton, and for his Nazi colonel in Mel Brooks' To Be or Not To Be (1983), toplining Brooks and Anne Bancroft. The first time around, Durning lost the Oscar to Louis Gossett Jr. for An Officer and a Gentleman; the following year, he lost to Jack Nicholson for Terms of Endearment.

Among Charles Durning's other films are George Roy Hill's Best Picture Oscar winner The Sting, The Muppet Movie, Home for the Holidays, The Hudsucker Proxy, Dick Tracy, and O Brother, Where Art Thou?. In Sydney Pollack's blockbuster Tootsie, Durning memorably falls in love with Dustin Hoffman's television “actress.”

Besides his film work, Durning also appeared on Broadway (That Championship Season, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) and in numerous television productions, perhaps most notably in the 1975 TV movie Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, opposite Maureen Stapleton. For that role, Durning received his first of eight Emmy nominations.

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