Just mere hours after the passing of film and TV star Jack Klugman, the world has now lost another beloved character-actor.
Charles Durning's life was a hard one. One of ten siblings, Durning grew up poor, and went on to see five of his brothers and sisters succumb to disease. When Charles reached adulthood, he followed in his father's footsteps, and joined the military. Durning was the only member of his unit to survive the attacks on Omaha Beach on D-Day during World War II. After sitting out several months to recover from his injuries, Durning returned to combat, taking part in the Battle Of The Bulge. Unfortunately, he was captured, and bore witness to a massacre of POWs. Durning went on to receive three Purple Hearts and the Silver Star for his military service, making him one of the more decorated veterans of the war. You'd have never known this by talking to him however, as he was famously unwilling to discuss his time spent on the battlefield.
In 1959, Durning married his first wife Carole, with whom he would have three children. They divorced in 1972, but Charles quickly remarried his high-school sweetheart Mary Ann Amelio in 1973. The latter couple parted ways in 2010.
Durning began acting on both the stage and screen in the early 1960's, but didn't really get noticed until the mid-1970's. Some of Durning's most well-known film roles include Lt. William Snyder in "The Sting", Det. Sgt. Eugene Moretti in "Dog Day Afternoon", the Governor in "The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas", and Col. Erhardt in "To Be Or Not To Be". Those last two performances garnered him Oscar nominations. My personal favorite role of Durning's would have to be as Dustin Hoffman's (as "Dorothy Michaels") unwanted but incredibly likeable suitor Leslie "Les" Nichols in the classic Sydney Pollack comedy "Tootsie".
In addition to the above, Durning also appeared in such films as The Front Page, The Fury, When A Stranger Calls, The Muppet Movie, The Final Countdown, Dark Night Of The Scarecrow, Dick Tracy, The Hudsucker Proxy, and O Brother Where Art Thou?. His final film was the family drama "Shannon's Rainbow", which comes out next year.
Durning also made his mark on the small screen, with his most well-known TV role being as Dr. Harlan Elldridge on the Burt Reynolds fronted sitcom "Evening Shade", for which he was nominated for an Emmy. A more recent role was in the recurring part of Tommy Gavin's father Michael on the FX drama "Rescue Me", which earned him another Emmy nod. In addition to those two, Durning made well-received guest appearances on shows such as Homicide: Life On The Street, Everybody Loves Raymond, NCIS, and Everwood.
Charles Durning passed away of natural causes at his New York City home. His family is planning to hold a private service and burial at Arlington National Cemetery.