Durning at the 2008 National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, D.C.
|Born||Charles Edward Durning
February 28, 1923
Highland Falls, New York, U.S.
|Died||December 24, 2012 (aged 89)
New York, New York, U.S.
|Resting place||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1944–1946|
|Rank||Private First Class|
Charles Edward Durning (February 28, 1923 – December 24, 2012) was an American actor, with appearances in over 200 movies, television shows and plays. Durning's memorable roles included the Oscar-winning The Sting (1973) and crime drama Dog Day Afternoon (1975), along with the comedies Tootsie, To Be or Not to Be and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the last two of which earned him Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor. He also won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1990.
Early life 
Durning was born in Highland Falls, New York, the fourth of ten children. His four brothers James (1915–2000), Clifford (1916–1994), Frances (born 1919) and Gerald Durning (born 1926) survived to adulthood, but his five sisters lost their lives to scarlet fever and smallpox as children. His mother, Louise (née Leonard; 1894–1982), was a laundress at West Point, and his father, James Durning (1883 – c. 1939), was an Irish immigrant.  His mother was also born in Ireland. Durning was raised Catholic, and was at one time considering becoming a priest.
He received his first taste of acting as an usher at a burlesque theater in Buffalo, New York, where he took the place of one of the comedians who showed up too drunk to perform. He recalled years later that he was hooked as soon as he heard the audience laughing.
Military service 
Durning served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Drafted at age 21, he was first assigned as a rifleman with the 398th Infantry Regiment, and later served overseas with the 3rd Army Support troops and the 386th Anti-aircraft Artillery (AAA) Battalion.
Durning claimed to have participated in the Normandy Invasion of France on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and to have been among the first troops to land at Omaha Beach. However, examination of his military records indicate that he came to Normandy as a replacement reserve some time after D-Day. In episode "S03E09" of the television program Dinner for Five, which also included Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise and Charles Nelson Reilly, Reynolds spoke about Durning's service career for him, as Durning did not like to talk about it much. Reynolds revealed that Durning was in a group of gliders who overshot their landing zone and that he had to fight alone all the way back to the beach. Reynolds also stated that his own father was there fighting about 15 yards away and that Durning was probably the most decorated veteran (then) still alive from World War II. Some sources state that he was with the 1st Infantry Division at the time, but it is unclear if he served as a rifleman or as a member of one of the division's artillery battalions.
Durning was wounded by a German “S” Mine on June 15, 1944 at La Mare des Mares, Normandy. He was transported to the 24th Evacuation Hospital and by June 17 he was in England at the 217th General Hospital. He was severely wounded by shrapnel in the left and right thighs, the right hand, the frontal head region, and the anterior left chest wall. Durning recovered quickly and was determined to be fit for duty on December 6, 1944. He arrived back at the front in time to take part in the Battle of the Bulge, the German counter-offensive through the Ardennes Forest of Belgium and Luxembourg in December 1944. Subsequently, Durning was at one point captured by the Germans and reportedly narrowly escaped a massacre of prisoners. (Whether this was the famed Malmedy massacre is a matter of dispute, since no official record of Durning's name associated with the massacre has been found, and Durning himself did not publicly claim to have been there.)
After being wounded again, this time in the chest, Durning was returned to the United States. He remained in Army hospitals until being discharged with the rank of Private First Class on January 30, 1946.
Durning was known for participating in various functions to honor American veterans. He was the chairman one year of the U.S. National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans. He was an honored guest speaker at the National Memorial Day Concert for many years, televised by PBS every year on the Sunday evening of Memorial Day weekend.
For his valor and the wounds he received during the war, Durning was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Heart medals. Additional awards include the World War II Victory Medal.
In April 2008, Durning received the National Order of the Legion of Honor from the French consul in Los Angeles, awarded to those who served with distinction in France. During the ceremony, Durning spoke about his wartime experiences.
Acting career 
Durning got his start on the New York stage and continued to return once or twice a decade. Among his most acclaimed performances were the role of Mayor George Sitkowski in the original production of Jason Miller's That Championship Season in 1973. His Tony Award winning performance as Big Daddy in the 1989 revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Matthew Harrison Brady to George C. Scott's Henry Drummond in the Tony Randall produced revival of Inherit the Wind in 1997, and Charley in the 1980 revival of Death of a Salesman also starring Dustin Hoffman and Kate Reid .
Durning's breakthrough film performance was in The Sting. In the film, Durning plays a corrupt policeman, Lieutenant Snyder, who polices and hustles professional con artists. He doggedly pursues the young grifter Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford), only to become the griftee in the end. By the end of his life, Durning had more than 100 film and television credits, including Hawaii Five-O, Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, When A Stranger Calls, Dog Day Afternoon (with Al Pacino), The Final Countdown, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and The Hindenburg. In 1976, he received both an Emmy and a Golden Globe nomination for his performance in the television mini-series Captains and the Kings. In 1979, he played Doc Hopper, a man who owns a frog leg restaurant and the main antagonist in 1979's The Muppet Movie. In Tootsie he plays a suitor to a cross-dressing Dustin Hoffman. The two actors worked together again in a 1985 TV production of Death of a Salesman. In 1993, Durning guest starred in the Sean Penn-directed music video for "Dance with the One That Brought You" by Shania Twain.
Other film roles include portrayals of the characters of Henry Larson, the benevolent father of Holly Hunter's character in Home for the Holidays (1995); "Pappy" O'Daniel, a cynical governor of Mississippi (a character loosely based on the Texas politician and showman W. Lee O'Daniel) in O Brother, Where Art Thou; and Victor Rasdale in Dirty Deeds. In 1996 he played Lew in the romantic comedy One Fine Day and Santa Claus in the Sesame Street home video "Elmo Saves Christmas".
On TV he played town doctor Harlan Eldridge on the Burt Reynolds sitcom Evening Shade (1990–1994). From 1998-2002, he had a recurring role on Everybody Loves Raymond as the Barone family's long-suffering parish priest, Father Hubley. He also played the voice of recurring character Francis Griffin in the animated series Family Guy until the episode Peter's Two Dads where the character died (although he later returned in the episode Family Goy to voice the ghost of Francis).
He was nominated for an Emmy Award for his portrayal of a Marine veteran in "Call of Silence," an episode of the television series NCIS, first broadcast November 23, 2004. Drawing on his first-hand knowledge of the lingering effects of battle-induced stress, Durning's character turns himself in to authorities, insisting that he must be prosecuted for having murdered his buddy during ferocious combat on Iwo Jima six decades earlier. The real truth of the incident only becomes known for certain when the guilt-stricken veteran goes through a cathartic reliving of the battlefield events.
For his numerous roles on television, Durning earned nine Emmy Award nominations. He also received Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor nominations for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas in 1982 and for To Be or Not to Be in 1983. He won a Golden Globe in 1990 for his supporting role in the television miniseries The Kennedys of Massachusetts. He appeared on the FX television series Rescue Me, playing Mike Gavin, the retired firefighter father of Denis Leary's character.
Durning was honored with the Life Achievement Award at the 14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Award Ceremony on January 27, 2008. On July 31, 2008 he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next to that of one of his idols, James Cagney.
Charles Durning died of natural causes at his home in Manhattan, New York on December 24, 2012, aged 89 and was subsequently buried in Arlington National Cemetery. In his obituary, the Los Angeles Times called Durning "the king of character actors". The New York Times, which commented on Durning's more than 200 credited roles, referred to him and actor Jack Klugman, who died the same day, as "extraordinary actors ennobling the ordinary". The Huffington Post compared the two men, calling them "character actor titans". His three children were with him when he died. All three live in New York. Michele Durning is an actress and Jeanine Durning, a modern dance performer and choreographer.
|1962||The Password Is Courage||American GI (uncredited)|
|1965||Harvey Middleman, Fireman||Dooley|
|1969||Stiletto||Bit Part (uncredited)|
|1970||I Walk the Line||Hunnicutt|
|1970||Hi, Mom!||Superintendent||as Charles Durnham|
|1971||The Pursuit of Happiness||2nd Guard|
|1972||Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues||Murphy|
|1972||Deadhead Miles||Red Ball Rider (Truck Driver in Cafe)|
|1972||Doomsday Voyage||Jason's First Mate|
|1972-?||Another World||Gil McGowan (#1)|
|1973||All in the Family||Detective (Episode: "Gloria the Victim")|
|1973||The Sting||Lt. Wm. Snyder|
|1974||The Front Page||Murphy|
|1975||Dog Day Afternoon||Det. Sgt. Eugene Moretti||NBR Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
|1975||The Hindenburg||Capt. Pruss|
|1975||Queen of the Stardust Ballroom||Alvin "Al" Green||Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie|
|1976||Harry and Walter Go to New York||Rufus T. Crisp|
|1976||Captains and the Kings||Ed Healey||Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
|1977||The Choirboys||Spermwhale Whalen|
|1977||Twilight's Last Gleaming||President David Stevens|
|1978||An Enemy of the People||Peter Stockmann|
|1978||The Fury||Dr. Jim McKeever|
|1978||The Greek Tycoon||Michael Russell|
|1979||Starting Over||Michael (Mickey) Potter|
|1979||North Dallas Forty||Coach Johnson|
|1979||When a Stranger Calls||John Clifford|
|1979||The Muppet Movie||Doc Hopper|
|1979||Tilt||Harold 'The Whale' Remmens|
|1980||The Final Countdown||Senator Samuel Chapman|
|1980||Attica||Commissioner Russell Oswald||Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie|
|1981||Dark Night of the Scarecrow||Otis P. Hazelrigg|
|1981||True Confessions||Jack Amsterdam|
|1982||Tootsie||Leslie 'Les' Nichols|
|1982||The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas||Governor||Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|1983||Two of a Kind||Charlie|
|1983||Scarface||Immigration Officer - voice (uncredited)|
|1983||To Be or Not to Be||Col. Erhardt||Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
|1984||Mass Appeal||Monsignor Thomas Burke|
|1984||Hadley's Rebellion||Sam Crawford|
|1984||Mister Roberts||The Captain|
|1985||The Man with One Red Shoe||Ross|
|1985||Stand Alone||Louis Thibadeau|
|1985||Death of a Salesman||Charley||Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie|
|1986||Where the River Runs Black||Father O'Reilly|
|1986||Meatballs III: Summer Job||Pete, Heaven Doorman (uncredited)|
|1986||Tough Guys||Deke Yablonski|
|1987||Happy New Year||Charl|
|1987||The Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains||Warden Hardy|
|1987||The Rosary Murders||Father Ted Nabors|
|1988||A Tiger's Tale||Charlie Drumm|
|1988||Case Closed||Detective Les|
|1989||Brenda Starr||Editor Francis I. Livright|
|1989||Cat Chaser||Jiggs Scully|
|1990||Fatal Sky||Colonel Clancy|
|1990||Dick Tracy||Chief Brandon|
|1990||The Kennedys of Massachusetts||John "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald||Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film|
|1990–1994||Evening Shade||Dr. Harlan Elldridge||Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (1991–1992)|
|1991||V.I. Warshawski||Det. Lt. Bobby Mallory|
|1993||The Music of Chance||Bill Flower|
|1994||The Hudsucker Proxy||Waring Hudsucker|
|1995||The Last Supper||Reverend Gerald Hutchens|
|1995||The Grass Harp||Reverend Buster|
|1995||Home for the Holidays||Henry Larson|
|1996||Spy Hard||The Director|
|1996||Mrs. Santa Claus||Santa Claus|
|1996||One Fine Day||Lew|
|1997||The Secret Life of Algernon||Norbie Hess|
|1998||Jerry and Tom||Vic|
|1998||Shelter||Capt. Robert Landis|
|1998||Homicide: Life on the Street||Thomas Finnegan (Episode: "Finnegan's Wake")||Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series|
|1998–2002||Everybody Loves Raymond||Father Hubley||6 episodes|
|2000||Never Look Back|
|2000||O Brother, Where Art Thou?||Pappy O'Daniel|
|2000||The Last Producer||Syd Wolf|
|2000||Very Mean Men||Paddy Mulroney|
|2000||State and Main||Mayor George Bailey|
|2001||Turn of Faith||Philly Russo|
|2001||L.A.P.D.: To Protect and to Serve||Stuart Steele|
|2002||The Last Man Club||John 'Eagle Eye' Pennell|
|2002||Pride & Loyalty||Dylan Frier|
|2002||First Monday||Justice Henry Hoskins|
|2002||Mr. St. Nick||King Nicholas XX (Santa Claus)|
|2003||Dead Canaries||Jimmy Kerrigan|
|2003||One Last Ride||Mr. Orlick|
|2004||Death and Texas||Marshall Ledger|
|2004||NCIS||Corporal Ernie Yost, "Medal of Honor Recipient"||Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series|
|2004||A Boyfriend for Christmas||Santa Claus|
|2005||Resurrection: The J.R. Richard Story||Frank McNally|
|2005||River's End||Murray Blythe|
|2005||Dirty Deeds||Victor Rasdale|
|2005||The L.A. Riot Spectacular||The Lawyer|
|2005||Miracle Dogs Too||Captain Pete|
|2006||Forget About It||Eddie O'Brien|
|2006||Jesus, Mary and Joey||Teddy the Bartender|
|2006||Unbeatable Harold||Harold's Father|
|2006||The Naked Run||Congressman Davenport|
|2007||Chronicle of Purgatory: The Waiter||Frank 'The Handler' Maro|
|2007||Polycarp (aka Kinky Killers)||Alexander Hathaway|
|2008||The Golden Boys||John Bartlett|
|2008||The Drum Beats Twice||Satan|
|2008||Break||The Wise Man|
|2008||iMurders||Dr. Seamus St. Martin|
|2009||A Bunch of Amateurs||Charlie Rosenberg|
|2004–2011||Rescue Me||Michael Gavin||Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series|
- Normandy: The Great Crusade Discovery Channel Director-Christopher Koch - English (1994)
- Thomas, Bob (December 24, 2012). "Charles Durning Obituary". Los Angeles: AP via Legacy.com. Retrieved 2012-12-26.
- Cf. a Ancestry.com family tree search. The New York Times obituary, published December 26, 2012, writes that Charles' father died when he was 16, placing his death between Feb 28, 1939 to Feb 27, 1940. A more exact reference is needed.
- Schudel, Matt (December 26, 2012) "In real life and on the screen, he played countless roles" The Washington Post, p. B4
- Biography for Charles Durning at the Internet Movie Database
- CHARLES DURNING; Healing the Wounds of Normandy
- "Sullivan County Democrat: Obituaries for November 7, 2000". Sc-democrat.com. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
- "The mother book: a compendium of trivia & grandeur concerning mothers ... - Liz Smith - Google Books". Books.google.ca. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
- "Los Angeles Times: Archives - NO BLEEPS FOR DURNING'S ROLE". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. March 2, 1981. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
- "Durning Takes On The 'Peasant Pope' For Pbs - Los Angeles Times". Articles.latimes.com. September 15, 1987. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
- Charles Durning, king of character actors, dies in NYC
- Karras, Steve. "Charles Durning's War: Heroism, Exaggeration, Fabrication?". Web2Carz.com. Web2Carz.com. Retrieved 5/24/2013.
- "Top Ten Celebrity Veterans : Charles Durning". Text "http://military.discovery.com" ignored (help)
- Baron, Scott (January 2007). "They Also Served: June 6, 1944: The Longest Day". G.I. Jobs website. G.I. Jobs Online. Retrieved 2007-01-08.
- War Hero on Walk of Fame by Solvej Schou (Associated Press)
- Berkvist, Robert (December 26, 2012). "Charles Durning, Character Actor in ‘Tootsie,’ Dies at 89". The New York Times. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
- VA Voluntary Service – National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans
- Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp, MND-B PAO, "Military urban legends versus true tales: real life stories prove more interesting", www.Army.mil, retrieved 16-Sep-2011
- "Speech by Consul General of France Philippe Larrieu". Los Angeles: French Diplomatic Mission to the United States. April 22, 2008. Archived from the original on May 6, 2008. Retrieved 2012-12-26.
- VFrance honors wartime service of Charles Durning
- O'Hare, Kate. 'NCIS' Has Durning Hearing Echoes of War. tv.zap2it.com.
- "Charles Durning, Oscar-nominated king of the character actors, dies at 89 in NYC". The Washington Post. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
- "Charles Durning, king of character actors, dies at 89 - latimes.com". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
- Genzlinger, Neil (December 26, 2012). "AN APPRAISAL; Remembering Jack Klugman and Charles Durning". The New York Times. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
- "Charles Durning, Jack Klugman Deaths Bring New Appreciation For Character Actor Titans". The Huffington Post. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Charles Durning|
- Charles Durning at the Internet Movie Database
- Charles Durning at the Internet Broadway Database
- Charles Durning at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Location of Charles Durning's grave at Find A Grave
- McCaslin, John, TownHall.com (cached) "Stars by example"
- Hayes, Richard L., Osprey Publishing. "Hollywood Stars at D-Day"
- Soldiers Online – Army.mil. "Concert on Memorial Day"