Charles Durning, one of the most famous character actors to have ever lived, died in his home on Monday. He was 89.
Durning was born on Feb. 28, 1923 in a military family of four brothers and five sisters. His four brother survived until adulthood, but all of his sisters died of scarlet fever or smallpox in childhood. Once he reached the age of 21, he was drafted into the military and sent to Europe. He was at the initial invasion at D-Day and would later participate in the Battle of the Bulge. For his efforts during the war, he was awarded with the Silver Star and three Purple Hearts.
After the war, Durning turned to acting. He got his start on the New York stage, but quickly progressed to film and television. One of his most famous roles was that of Lieutenant Snyder in The Sting. He also starred in such films as Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, When A Stranger Calls, Dog Day Afternoon and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. He would be nominated for two Best Supporting Actor Oscars in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and To Be Or Not To Be. He was also nominated for numerous Emmy awards. He won a Tony for his portrayal of Big Daddy on Broadway’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1989.
He died of natural causes on December 24, 2012 at his home in Manhattan, New York. He is survived by three children.