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Charles Durning (Highland Falls, NY, February 28, 1923 – Manhattan, New York, December 24, 2012) was an American actor.
He was born in Highland Falls, New York State, the son of an army officer. He was called up for the Second World War and participated in the landing of the Allied forces in Normandy; in one of the battles he was wounded. On his return to the United States he carried out various works. One of them was that of a ballroom dance instructor. He also made small papers in the theater, where he was seen by a producer, who hired him for the Shakespeare Theater Festival in New York. From then on, Durning appeared in more than 30 theatrical works, as well as in some films.
Durning had his first major success in the theater in the year 1970, in the play That Champion Season, which won a Tony, the most important theater award in America. A few years later, in 1973 he repeated this success when he took part in the film El golpe, with Paul Newman and Robert Redford, in which he portrayed a corrupt policeman. The movie won several Oscars. Durning was then 50 years old. He had worked continuously, but he had not attracted attention as an actor. From then on things changed. He worked tirelessly as one of the most requested supporting actors. His acting skills allowed him to perform a multitude of different roles, and his presence in the films contributed significantly to his success.
Some of Durning’s memorable performances were his police role trying to negotiate with Al Pacino in Tarde de perros, president in Twilight’s Last Gleaming, or Jessica Lange’s father who falls in love with a Dustin Hoffman disguised as a woman in Tootsie. He was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1982 for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and the following year for Being or Not Being, the new version of Ernst Lubitsch’s classic made by Mel Brooks. He also continued to perform in the theater, where he was also considered a great actor of character. In 1989, he won a Tony Award for best supporting actor for his role as father in The Cat on the Roof of Zinc, a work that was on the Broadway poster.
Durning’s ability to work led him to also participate in numerous films and mini-television series, in which he starred with famous actors, such as Dustin Hoffman and Burt Reynolds, and with whom he also achieved considerable success. In 1975 he had been nominated for an Emmy Award, and 15 years later, in 1990, he won it for his role in the mini-series The Kennedys of Massachusetts.
Durning was married twice. Of his first wife he divorced in 1972, and the following year he remarried. He had three children from his first wife.
The actor died in Manhattan on December 24, 2012 due to natural causes.
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