Mostly Credited As: Christopher Plummer
Birth Name: Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer
Date Of Birth: December 13, 1927 (Age 86)
Country Of Birth: Canada
Birth Place: Toronto, Ontario
Height: 5' 10 ½" (1.79 m)
Christopher Plummer was born on December 13, 1929 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His full given name is Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer. He is the son of John Plummer, a secretary to the Dean of Science at McGill University, and to Isabella Mary (Abbott) Plummer. His maternal great grandfather was John Abbott, who served as the prime minister of Canada. Christopher attended Jennings Private School, and studied under Iris Warren and C. Herbertcasari. He was brought up and educated by his mother in Montreal, after his parents divorced when he was only one year old. Among his relatives were Guy Du Maurier, the playwright, and the actor Nigel Bruce who played Dr. Watson alongside Basil Rathbone who played Sherlock Holmes in many films. Christopher's mother, who was the head of the Canadian Handicrafts Guild, took him to plays, ballets, operas and other cultural events, and he learned to play the piano very well, and studied to be a concert pianist.. His grandmother used to read aloud to the family after dinner. After working as a lighting designer for his high school production of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream, he became interested in acting.
By his mid teens, he had played leading roles in student productions, his first important role was that of D'Arcy in Pride and Punishment. He trained for the theater with the Canadian Reporatory Company in Ottawa, and while there, in just two short years, he played 75 different roles. He acted in both French and English drama on Canadian radio, doing Shakespeare, Moliere, Shaw and Christopher Fry. He first appeared as a professional on stage at the age of 17 as Posthumus in Shakespeare's Cymbeline, and later in The Rivals, put on by the Canadian Repertory Theatre, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, in 1950. He first appearance on television was in the CBC production of Othello in 1951. His first acting experience outside of Canada was in a reperatory company in Bermuda, where he played both leading and featured roles, appearing in The Royal Family, The Playboy of the Western World, The Petrified Forest, Nina, The Little Foxes, and The Constant Wife. Because of his work in Nina, Edward Everett Horton asked him to join the American touring company, playing a part first played by David Niven, and as a result he came to the U.S. in 1953.
His first appearance on Broadway was in The Star Cross Story as a film director, in January, 1954, through the help of Eva La Gallienne, but that production closed after only one performance. Later that year he appeared in Christopher Fry's The Dark is Light Enough with Katherine Cornell, in which he played count Peter Zichy, and after that in the short-lived Home is the Hero. The production of The Dark... ran for two months in N.Y., with mixed reviews, and the opening had to be delayed because both Christopher and the star, Tyrone Power, came down with infectious hepatitis, but fortunately, both recovered in time for the Broadway premiere on Feb. 23, 1955. In late 1955 he joined the cast of The Lark, and gave a strong performance as Warwick, which was praised by the critics. While still in his early 20's, Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times hailed him as "a Shakespearean actor of the first rank". From 1956-1959, Christopher was a leading actor in the Shakespearean Festival company at Stratford, Ontario, playing Henry V, Twelth Night, Hamlet, Much Ado About Nothing, and The Winter's Tale. During the 1950's he appeared in several television plays, including The Light That Failed, and The Web on Kraft Theatre, and on General Electric Theatre, and played Christian in a production of Cyrano de Bergerac, which starred Jose Ferrer, in 1955. In 1964, the NBC production of Hamlet at Elsinore which played in honor of 400 years after the birth of Shakespeare, was widely hailed by critics and played in 30 countries. He played a gang leader in the short lived Arturo Ui. He has appeared as an outstanding Iago in 1981's production of Othello, which one well known critic called the best Shakespearean performance ever done on stage. Christopher won the 1997 Tony for his portrayal of John Barrymore in the 1 man show, Barrymore. One reviewer called him the finest classical actor still acting on the stage.
He married Tammy Lee Grimes in 1956, and their only child, Amanda, was born on March 23, 1957. They were divorced in 1960, and he married Patricia Audrey Lewis (a Journalist) on May 4, 1962. They were also divorced a few years later, and in 1970 he married his present wife, Elaine Regina Taylor (a dancer, actress and producer). He met Elaine on the set of "Lock Up Your Daughters" in which both appeared in 1969. Elaine appeared as Cloris, and Christopher played Lord Foppington. Christopher and Elaine live in a house they remodeled and redecorated in Weston, Connecticut. They do not have any children.
Christopher's first movie role was in Stage Struck in 1957 and he then had a part in Wind Across the Everglades. He played Commodus in 1964 in Fall of the Roman Empire, but his most famous role was as Baron Von Trapp in 1965's The Sound of Music. In 1969 he played the Aztec king in Royal Hunt of the Sun, appeared as Rudyard Kipling in the 1975 production of The Man Who Would be King. He has also played Herod Antipas, Sherlock Holmes, General Chang (Star Trek 6) and Dr. Goines in 12 Monkeys . He won an Emmy for his performance in the 1976 miniseries The Moneychangers. His most recent movie appearances are in The Arrow and Winchell (as Franklin D. Roosevelt), and as Mike Wallace in The Insider, for which he is being considered for an Oscar nomination.
His complete filmography includes at least 100 films from 1958 to 2001 in which he either acted, voiced a part, or narrated. His only sitcom television appearance was on The Cosby Show in 1984.
Among the many awards which Mr. Plummer has won are England's Evening Standard , The Antoinette Perry award, Drama Desk and Outer Critics' Circle Awards, Theatre World Award, Delia Austrian Medal, two Tony nominations and two Tony Awards, two Emmy Nominations and one Emmy Award, Canada's Gremie Award, and he was invested as Companion of the Order of Canada, approved by Queen Elizabeth II, Canada's highest civil honor. Although he has lived in Weston, Connecticut for many years with his wife Elaine, he still remains a Canadian citizen.
~Thanks to Glenn A. for helping out with the biography.