Who was Charles Durning?
Charles Durning was much more than an actor. He played a variety of character roles that have become synonymous with the film industry. Durning had a life marked by highs and lows. He excelled both on and away from the screen.
What is the definition of his acting career?
Durning became a household name in the mid-1970s when his career took off. Durning’s versatility was unmatched, whether he played a corrupt cop in The Sting or a hilarious governor in Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. He demonstrated his ability to seamlessly switch roles when he played Jessica Lange’s father in Tootsie, and a humorous German officer in To Be Or Not To be. He was nominated for an Oscar for his outstanding performance in To Be Or Not To Be.
Did he only shine on the big screen?
Durning played a wide range of roles in his cinematic career, but his real-life roles are even more varied. He was a World War II veteran, a ballroom dancing instructor, radio singer and even a painter of bridges. Durning had a life filled with struggle and many jobs before he became famous, which showed his resilience and determination.
What sparked his interest in showbiz?
Durning started his career as a performer in Buffalo, New York. He worked as an usher for a burlesque club. It wasn’t until Durning replaced an inebriated comic and got the audience laughing that he discovered his true calling.
How did war impact his life?
Durning decided to serve his country in 1944, joining the Army and taking part in D-Day landings in Normandy. Durning suffered irreparable injuries during the Battle of the Bulge; only one patrol member survived to see the outcome. Durning, who recovered from physical and psychological traumas, once said, “Before war, I used to be quiet and cheerful.” The war left me with a lingering sense of resentment.
Who were his contemporaries and close friends?
Burt Reynolds (who often shared the screen Durning) once recalled a touching moment between Durning’s father and Durning. Both were present on Normandy Beach. Their shared wartime experiences and camaraderie created a strong bond. Durning was in the same company as Grace Kelly, Colleen dewhurst and Jason Robards at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
What marked his shift to stardom?
Durning’s entrance into Broadway opened the door to his rise in the film industry. It was his performance in Jason Miller’s That Championship Season that changed the game, and led to his important role in The Sting. Durning was never going to look back.
What were the pillars of his personal life?
Durning had his share of highs, and lows in his personal life. After a career-driven life, his first marriage to Carol – who was a dance teacher – ended. Mary Ann Amelio, a high school friend of his, reconnected with him and they embraced life together.
What did the world remember him as?
Charles Durning’s death, on 24 December, has left an irreparable void in the history of cinema and the cinema itself. His performances will forever be a testament to cinematic brilliance. But his life is a testament to resilience, versatility, and an indefatigable Spirit. Charles’ family decided to pay their respects by burying him privately at Arlington National Cemetery.
Charles Durning’s rich tapestry shows that perseverance can lead to success on and off screen.