Skip to comments.Charles Durning, king of character actors, dies in NYC
Posted on 12/25/2012 2:15:22 AM PST by Lancey Howard
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- 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.
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He was great in Rescue Me. Klugman now him. Who’s next?
Great actor. He starred in the best episode of NCIS they ever made. It was the one where Durning played a Medal of Honor recipient who had served in WWII with the Marines. He was depressed by the recent loss of his wife and he walked into NCIS and confessed to murdering his buddy on Iwo Jima. He really thought he had. Gibbs, of course, figured everything out.
RIP, Mr. Durning.
Always loved watching this actor since I was small. Seems like he was in everything & around forever. RIP.
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."
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.Got three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star.
Not much on musicals but the mentioned “Sidestep” is an exception. One of the funniest, and true, things I’ve ever seen.
There is a rumor that Mr. Durning, like Harvey Keitel, has been in every movie since the 1950s. I will miss him.
RIP, Casey. Give my regards to Mickey Mantle.
Looks like the ghosts stayed with him, and he dealt with it the best he could.
When I saw the thread, that episode was the first thing I thought of...it always chokes me up.
Well done, Mr. Durning...R.I.P.
He was captured in the Battle of the Bulge and survived a massacre of prisoners....
That deserves more information. Mr. During was one tough GI. Not surprising he wouldn’t discuss the matter.
Read more on the murders of US soldiers captured during the Battle of the Bulge.
The Malmedy and Bagnuez Massacres
My two favourite movies with him are ‘Sharky’s Machine’ and ‘Stand Alone’.
Loved him in The Sting and O Brother Where Art Thou!
RIP solder, thanks for serving.
..another icon of hollywood’s past passes...today’s so called stars can’t hold a candle to the greats of days gone bye. The ever present “remakes”, shows there is a void where talent use to be. From directors to leading roles, it’s just not there.
RIP Mr. Durning.
The obits mention his WWII service, and one says he was the only member of his unit to survive. D-Day and the Bulge are specifically mentioned. Does anyone know his unit?
Durning served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Drafted at age 21, he was first assigned as a rifleman with the 398th Infantry Regiment, and later served overseas with the 3rd Army Support troops and the 386th Anti-aircraft Artillery (AAA) Battalion. For his valor and the wounds he received during the war, Durning was awarded the Silver Star and three Purple Heart medals.
Durning participated in the Normandy Invasion of France on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and was among the first troops to land at Omaha Beach. In Episode S03E09 of the program Dinner for Five, which also included Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise and Charles Nelson Reilly), Reynolds spoke about Durning’s service career for him, as Durning did not like to talk about it much. Reynolds revealed that Durning was in a group of gliders who overshot their landing zone and that he had to fight alone all the way back to the beach. Reynolds also stated that his own father was there fighting about 15 yards away and that Durning was probably the most decorated veteran (then) still alive from World War II. Some sources state that he was with the 1st Infantry Division at the time, but it is unclear if he served as a rifleman or as a member of one of the division’s artillery battalions.
Durning was wounded by a German S Mine on June 15, 1944 at Les Mare des Mares, France. He was transported to the 24th Evacuation Hospital. By June 17 he was back in England at the 217th General Hospital. Although severely wounded by shrapnel in the left and right thighs, the right hand, the frontal region of the head, and the anterior left chest wall, Durning recovered quickly and was determined to be fit for duty on December 6, 1944. He arrived back at the front in time to take part in the Battle of the Bulge, the German counter-offensive through the Ardennes Forest of Belgium and Luxembourg in December 1944.
After being wounded again, this time in the chest, Durning was repatriated to the United States. He remained in Army hospitals to receive treatment for wounds until being discharged with the rank of Private First Class on January 30, 1946.
RIP. He played our Gov Dolph Brisco. You never saw this guy as he was very busy making himself rich. Went on many land buying trips.
He and Klugman on the same day. Sad..
I'll stack his PHs against Kerry's.
I don't pretend to know the politics of this heroic American. However, if Mr.During was a man of the left, like most in his profession, he might not agree with you about Senator Kerry but I do.
I’m not sure if it was on this thread or another, but there was a statement that he killed a German soldier with a rock during the Battle of the Bulge.
The dectective with the squeaky shoes in “The Sting”.
He was great on NCIS as a MARINE who killed his best friend to keep him quiet.
He was a great actor. I liked him in True Confessions. The movie did not do real well but he shined in a cast including DeNiro, Duval, Meredith and other great actors.
It was my favorite episode too. It always makes me tear up.
Condolences to family and friends of Charles Durning. America’s finest. R.I.P., sir.
RIP in peace Pvt Durning. Your sacrifices for your country will never be forgotten. It is because of you and those other men with brass balls that we speak American and not German.
Thanks for that “sidestep” link. Fabulous. I never saw the movie.
...his purple heart awards does list bayonet at the Bulge
Oh, his “Sidestep” was hilarious. He and Klugman will be sorely missed.
Prayer up... RIP
Great actor and a great man, too. RIP.