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Charles Durning, legendary character actor, dies at 89

By Daniel S Levine,

With a list of credits that go from Dog Day Afternoon to Tootsie to Family Guy, chances are that you’ve heard of Charles Durning, the legendary character actor who died Monday at the age of 89 in New York.

His friend and agent Judith Moss confirmed his death to The Associated Press. He died of natural causes at his Manhattan home.

Durning’s long list of credits on TV and film stretch from the dawn of television in the early 1950s to providing the voice of Francis Griffin on Family Guy and starring in Dennis Leary’s Rescue Me.

In films, he played every type of character possible, notes The New York Times. Whether it was chasing Paul Newman in The Sting or a Nazi captain in Mel Brooks’ To Be Or Not To Be remake, Durning made a memorable impact in supporting roles. He earned two best supporting actor Oscar nominations for To Be Or Not To Be and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

Other film appearances include O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Spy Hard, Tough Guys and North Dallas Forty.

However, his breakthrough role was on the stage, with 1972’s That Championship Season, which lead to his role in The Sting. He had another Broadway success in 1990, playing Big Daddy in a revival of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

“I never turned down anything and never argued with any producer or director,” he told the AP in 2008.

Durning was also a war hero, as one of the first U.S. soldiers to land at Normandy on D-Day. He was the only one of his unit to survive and was also captured during the Battle of the Bulge. He was awarded the Silver Star and three Purple Hearts, but refused to talk about his service.

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

 
 

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