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Charles Durning has died.
December 25, 2012 3:56 AM   Subscribe


 
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posted by gubo at 4:38 AM on December 25, 2012


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posted by key_of_z at 4:42 AM on December 25, 2012


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posted by marienbad at 5:00 AM on December 25, 2012


I'm sad to say I didn't really recognize his name. I knew I'd heard it before, it was a name I recognized, but when I clicked on the nyt link, and saw the photo, damn. I liked him in pretty much everything I saw him in. Damn.

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posted by Ghidorah at 5:02 AM on December 25, 2012


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posted by cvp at 5:04 AM on December 25, 2012


Aw, dammit.

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posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:10 AM on December 25, 2012


An excellent actor. RIP.
posted by h00py at 5:19 AM on December 25, 2012


Well, crap. .
posted by karlos at 5:24 AM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


He was one of those actors that I never thought of when discussing my favorite actors, but he's been great in everything I've seen him in. He was particularly great in the Sting and Dog Day Afternoon Afternoon, but my favorite role of his was as the father in Home For the Holidays.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 5:28 AM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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My favorite movie villain of all time
posted by ChuraChura at 5:36 AM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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But the "Pappy O'Daniel Flour Hour" shall live on in our hearts forever.

"We ain't one-at-a-timin' here. We're MASS communicatin'!"
posted by The Nutmeg of Consolation at 5:38 AM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


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posted by jquinby at 5:57 AM on December 25, 2012


She'll be comin' round the mountain,
I said comin' round the mountain,
Oh yeah, comin' round the mountain when she
coooOOOOOOMES!


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or rather...

O

...You know. For kids.
posted by unregistered_animagus at 5:59 AM on December 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


That's right. Newwwwwwww York.

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posted by middleclasstool at 6:42 AM on December 25, 2012


Damn, unregistered_animagus beat me to it. Mr. Hudsucker will be greatly missed.

And .
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:46 AM on December 25, 2012


I just watched the original Muppet movie in which he plays the villain, the fast food frog leg franchise king who wants Kermit as a mascot, dead or alive. What made the role just a bit more amusing than it already was, was the fact that he was dressed in almost the exact same outfit that he later wore as the governor in O' Brother, Where Art Thou?

I guess the Cohen Brothers can never make another movie....AGAIN. I suppose this is the appropriate image from The Hudsucker Proxy (another great performance of his).

Definitely will be missed.

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posted by Atreides at 6:58 AM on December 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


A documentary got made about the landing at Omaha beach for its fiftieth anniversary, and they wanted Durning to do the narration, because he was there. Initially he didn't want to do it, because he feared it would bring back memories and give him nightmares. But he gave in, and he did a beautiful job. If you ever get a chance, watch it.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:00 AM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


My wife and I just watched Home for the Holidays last night. He's definitely the best part of that movie.
posted by mokin at 7:30 AM on December 25, 2012


He was in the best episode of NCIS ever. Even if you can't stand the show, catch that one. It is wonderful.
posted by oflinkey at 7:38 AM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the 2002 National Memorial Day Concert:

"Actor and decorated war veteran Charles Durning shared the memories of Lester Tenney, a survivor of the Bataan Death March."

Immense. I wish I could find the film clip.
posted by dragonsi55 at 7:43 AM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


He was good in everything I ever saw him in. I loved him most recently on Rescue Me and the NCIS episode that oflinkey mentions is a good one.
posted by shoesietart at 7:50 AM on December 25, 2012


“I was crossing a field somewhere in Belgium,” he said. “A German soldier ran toward me carrying a bayonet. He couldn’t have been more than 14 or 15. I didn’t see a soldier. I saw a boy. Even though he was coming at me, I couldn’t shoot.”

They grappled, he recounted later — he was stabbed seven or eight times — until finally he grasped a rock and made it a weapon. After killing the youth, he said, he held him in his arms and wept.


Somewhere, I hope, this Christmas there's two glasses, a bottle of something good, and William Demarest is telling Durning to pull up a chair. God bless us, every one.

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posted by Kinbote at 8:09 AM on December 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


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I first loved him (and will always love him) as Mr. Hudsucker.
posted by Partario at 8:18 AM on December 25, 2012


He was a masterful character actor (and apparently) a highly decent human being.

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posted by emjaybee at 8:23 AM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by gudrun at 8:45 AM on December 25, 2012


He was also great at dancing a little sidestep...

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posted by 1367 at 8:50 AM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Actors like this are as rare as they come.

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posted by dbiedny at 9:27 AM on December 25, 2012


In a previous career when I taught high school English, I used to teach Death of a Salesman. We was a tape (yes, kids, "tape") of the 1985 revival that had Charles Durning as Charley, Dustin Hoffman as Willy, and John Malkovich as Biff. If you want to see good acting, get a copy of that performance. He more than held his own.

RIP, sir, and thanks for the memories.
posted by mosk at 9:34 AM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


His role as Jack Amsterdam in the fantastic film, "True Confessions, is unforgettable.

And he was light on his feet, too, doing a terrific Irish jig (1:35 or so)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACcB8uHkEIs
posted by Tullyogallaghan at 9:35 AM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


He was superb.
posted by pmurray63 at 9:36 AM on December 25, 2012


This is my favorite bit of dancing by Mr. Durning.

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posted by Mittenz at 9:39 AM on December 25, 2012


Well, we had a tape. We were many things back then, but not tape.
posted by mosk at 9:45 AM on December 25, 2012


I never knew the life he led before he began his acting career. It is the stuff of several novels, most of them heart wrenching.

So, for an actor who has been in several great pieces and a life lived at great depths and high heights

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posted by jadepearl at 10:37 AM on December 25, 2012


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Loved him in Home for the Holidays, Hudsucker Proxy and State and Main.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:42 AM on December 25, 2012


Mr. Larson (Charles Durning): Dear Lord, we realize that lately everything’s changing too fast. And all sorts of things are always the same — even things we hated, like shoveling the turkey and stuffing the snow and going through the same crap year in and year out ...

Mrs. Larson (Anne Bancroft), breaking in: The food is getting cold.

Mr. Larson: As I was saying, dear Lord, before my wife interrupted me. Give me those old-fashioned traditions like Thanksgiving, which really mean something to us, even though we couldn’t tell you what it is — are starting to stop. And thousand-year-old trees are falling over dead, and they shouldn’t. That’s all from this end.

Daughter (Holly Hunter): Amen

Granddaughter (Emily Ann Lloyd): A-woman

Son (Robert Downy Jr.): That was absurd. Let’s eat dead bird.

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posted by humboldt32 at 10:46 AM on December 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


He wasn't here to make a rekkid, ya dumb cracka.




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posted by Spatch at 11:29 AM on December 25, 2012


The clip for humboldt32's quote. One of my favorite Charles Durning moments in film. As a Coen brothers aficionado, the movies he was in just wouldn't have been the same without him. Even in the Hudsucker Proxy, where his role is nearly cameo, he's unforgettable. I guess that's the mark of a great character actor.

Godspeed, sir. You've made me laugh til I cry, and I'll celebrate your movies for the rest of my life.
posted by Brak at 11:35 AM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


His relationship in Tootsie with Dustin Hoffman's Dorothy Michaels is so funny and touching that it overshadows Michael Dorsey's relationship with Durning's screen daughter Jessica Lange as we wait for the realization that has to come.

aav, Mr. Durning.
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posted by the sobsister at 11:37 AM on December 25, 2012


A documentary got made about the landing at Omaha beach for its fiftieth anniversary, and they wanted Durning to do the narration, because he was there. Initially he didn't want to do it, because he feared it would bring back memories and give him nightmares. But he gave in, and he did a beautiful job. If you ever get a chance, watch it.

Normandy: The Great Crusade, Parts 1, 2, 3

He had three purple hearts and a silver star. Wow. And then what an incredible acting career.

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posted by zarq at 11:54 AM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, sad news. What a long and full life Charles Durning had, and his performances will live on. I had forgotten about the distinction of his military service as well.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:17 PM on December 25, 2012


He made everything he was in better.

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posted by tzikeh at 12:59 PM on December 25, 2012


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posted by bjgeiger at 1:16 PM on December 25, 2012


It's a bad week for character actors, between this and Jack Klugman yesterday.

Like many other people here, I have liked Charles Durning for years but had no idea that he'd led such a fascinating life before he got into acting. He was great in everything he was in but his role in The Muppet Movie will always hold a special place in my heart.
posted by rednikki at 1:34 PM on December 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


He will be missed - what an actor. Like many on here, I've loved almost everything he has done on film.

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posted by Nick Verstayne at 3:36 PM on December 25, 2012


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posted by rahnefan at 3:47 PM on December 25, 2012


He was in the best episode of NCIS ever.

I think it's a complete coincidence, but this is playing right now on British telly.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 4:24 PM on December 25, 2012


Oh no, I always really liked him....

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posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:26 PM on December 25, 2012


I remember some of his roles quite fondly, especially in Tootsie.

But I especially remember seeing Durning on television at the 50 year anniversary commemoration of D-Day in 1994. There was a lot of fluff. Clinton and lots of dignitaries were there. Durning was standing on Omaha beach (or near it) and providing commentary and some description of the American landing and German defenses.

At one point, the program switched to another part of the event for a minute or two, and then went back to Durning, but he did not realize that he was on the air. The audience saw him looking across the beach rather than at the camera. He was deep in thought and sad. He said nothing. The program showed him only for a few seconds. Then some realized it was awkward moment and switched to another scene. I can only imagine what and whom he saw at that moment, across those 50 years.

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posted by haiku warrior at 8:30 PM on December 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Both for a brave soldier and for Doc Hopper of the original "Muppet Movie,"

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posted by wenestvedt at 8:30 PM on December 25, 2012


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posted by annsunny at 8:49 PM on December 25, 2012


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posted by aryma at 10:51 PM on December 25, 2012


Charles Durning was the greatest actor I ever had the pleasure of seeing on live stage. RIP.
posted by postel's law at 11:05 PM on December 25, 2012


Ugh..this year is gonna kill me...

Charles During RIP. What an amazing life!


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posted by Skygazer at 11:12 PM on December 25, 2012


I loved him always, but it really was Home For The Holidays that cemented it.

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posted by lumpenprole at 11:18 PM on December 25, 2012


Absolutely loved him in O Brother Where Art Thou, where he played Governor Pappy O'Daniel, a character based loosely on a Depression Era Texas Governor by the same name:
W. Lee O'Daniel served as Texas governor and United States senator. Born in 1890 in Ohio, O'Daniel came to Texas at age 29 as a sales manager for Burrus Mills, a flour-milling company in Fort Worth.

In 1928, O'Daniel took over the company's radio advertising and started a country music program to promote the flour.

O'Daniel hosted the show and organized a band called the Light Crust Doughboys. Many of the musicians who made Western Swing famous, including Bob Wills, got their start in O'Daniel's band.

In 1935 he organized his own flour company to make "Hillbilly Flour" and began to call his band the Hillbilly Boys. The slogan, "Pass the biscuits, Pappy," made O'Daniel a household name throughout Texas.
Two clips from O Brother Where Art Thou:

"Well... it's a well run campaign: midget and broom and whatnot" and dancing with The Soggy Bottom Boys.

He will be missed very much.

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posted by Davenhill at 12:58 AM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a little bit misty on hearing this because I remember waiting for my mom in a store somewhere in midtown Manhattan in 1981 - we were on an Easter trip to the city. My mom came in after a couple of minutes and reported that a famous actor had been chatting her up outside. She couldn't place him at first, but sometime later we went to see "Tootsie" and then she connected the name with the face. (Yep, I believe her 100% here!) Durning's now gone and my mom is losing her memory, so now I'm the only one who remembers this story.

In memory of Durning, then, a tip for cinephiles. Durning plays the POTUS in Robert Aldrich's Twilight's Last Gleaming, which just came out on an excellent Blu-Ray from Olive Films. He's surrounded by some heavy-duty acting horsepower - Burt Lancaster, Paul Winfield, Joseph Cotten and Melvyn Douglas among them - but I think the film turns on the warmth and conviction of Durning's performance. The film died a quick death at the box office - the filmic '70's had recently ended with the premieres of Star Wars and Close Encounters - but it is still very much worth a look for the performances and for Aldrich's masterful direction.
posted by Currer Belfry at 2:48 PM on December 26, 2012


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This moment of silence has been noted on your time cards and will be subtracted from your pay

Long live the Hud!
posted by jpdoane at 7:14 AM on December 27, 2012


@chocolate pickle: Normandy: The Great Crusade was the first thing I though of when I read he'd passed, as his recitation of Louis Simpsons Carentan O Carentan has stayed with me ever since I first heard it.
posted by kjs3 at 8:52 AM on December 27, 2012


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