Charles Durning, 2-time Academy Award nominee, has died

Charles Durning, who passed away at 89, starred at the villain in 'The Muppet Movie'
Charles Durning, who passed away at 89, starred at the villain in ‘The Muppet Movie’

Charles Durning, who was nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, has died, apparently of natural causes.  He passed away in New York City at the age of 89.

His career spanned 50 years, beginning with an uncredited appearance in The Password is Change in 1962.  He was reportedly working on a movie that is currently filming and had been working until last year on the television series Rescue Me.

Durning was nominated for Best Supporting Actor Oscars for his work in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, where he played a corrupt governor who danced and sang; and in the Mel Brooks remake of To Be Or Not To Be, where he played a Nazi officer.  He appeared in more than 100 feature films and was known as one of the best character actors in the industry.  Notable movies that he appeared in include The Sting, Dog Day Afternoon, Tootsie, Dick Tracy, O Brother Where Art Thou, and The Hudsucker Proxy.

Durning won a Golden Globe award for The Kennedys of Massachusetts, a mini-series.  He was nominated multiple times for Prime-Time Emmy awards, but never won.  Fans of the police procedural NCIS remember him as Corporal Ernie Yost, a Marine who had been awarded the Medal of Honor for his gallantry during the Battle of Iwo Jima.  In real life, Charles Durning was a war hero, awarded the Silver Star and three Purple Hearts for wounds suffered in battle.  In 2008, France presented him the Legion of Honor, an award for those who served with distinction in France.

Charles Durning in 'Sharky’s Machine'
Charles Durning in ‘Sharky’s Machine’

Burt Reynolds cast Durning twice in films that he was directing.  Sharky’s Machine and Stick.  Durning was also in the cast of Evening Shade, a Reynolds television series.  When Reynolds and Durning appeared together on the interview program Dinner for Five, Reynolds talked about Durning’s heroic service during World War II and mentioned that his own father had been fighting about 15 yards away from Durning.

Charles Durning was married twice and is survived by his wife, three children and three step-children.


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