Birthday: February 28, 1923 Birth
Place: Highland Falls, New York, USA Height: 5' 8"
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Before he became an actor, Charles Durning, the son of an Army officer, continued in his father's footsteps with valor and distinction, earning a silver star and purple heart. Durning held down several "joe jobs" — iron worker, elevator operator, cabbie, waiter, and dance instructor — until turning to acting in the late 1950s. Fresh from the national tour of The Andersonville Trial, Durning began his long association with Joseph Papp in 1962, distinguishing himself in Shakespearean roles. He made his earliest film appearance in Ernest Pintoff's Harvey Middleman, Fireman (1965). Durning's film roles increased in size and importance after his interpretation of a crooked cop in the Oscar-winning The Sting (1973). He went on to appear in several Burt Reynolds films, most memorably as the singing governor in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982). That performance landed him an Oscar nomination, as did his spin on "Concentration Camp" Erhardt in the 1983 remake of To Be or Not to Be. In 1975, Durning was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his portrayal of ulcerated police lieutenant Moretti in the theatrical feature Dog Day Afternoon (1975); he finally won that award 15 years later for his work as "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald in the TV miniseries The Kennedys of Massachusetts. Other notable film roles to his credit include Peter Stockmann in the Steve McQueen-produced An Enemy of the People (1978), Dustin Hoffman's "suitor" in the cross-dressing classic Tootsie (1982) (he later co-starred with Hoffman in the 1984 stage revival of Death of a Salesman), and the foredoomed Waring Hudsucker in the Coen Brothers' Hudsucker Proxy (1994).On television, Durning played Lt. Gil McGowan on the daytime soap Another World, officer Frank Murphy in The Cop and the Kid (1975), Big Ed Healey in Captains and the Kings (1976), Studs' dad in Studs Lonigan (1979), private-eye Oscar Poole in Eye to Eye (1985), the title character in PBS' I Would Be Called John: Pope John XXIII (1987), crooked industrialist Dan Packard (the old Wallace Beery role) in Dinner at Eight (1989), and Dr. Harrlan Eldridge in the Burt Reynolds TV vehicle Evening Shade (1990-1994), an assignment which afforded the far-from-sylph-like Durning his first nude scene.While his television and film career have continued to be prolific, Durning has also continued to earn acclaim for his stage work. In 1990, he won a Tony Award for his performance as Big Daddy in the Broadway revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Was trained in classical dance and was for a time in his early career, a dance instructor.
His wife, Mary Ann, was his childhood sweetheart. He won a Tony in 1990 for "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof."
Has played Santa Claus five times to date, in It Nearly Wasn't Christmas (1989) (TV), Mrs. Santa Claus (1996) (TV), Elmo Saves Christmas (1996) (V), Mr. St. Nick (2002) (TV), and A Boyfriend for Christmas (2004) (TV). Ironically, none of these films was released in theaters and two of them begin with titles of a man or woman. His St. Nick is rarely the main character and is portrayed as somewhat grumpier than most depictions.
Was one of a few survivors to the infamous attack on American POWs at Malmedy, Belgium. The surrendering engineering battalion, caught behind enemy lines when the main American Forces retreated, were gathered together and brought to a large field when German machine guns which had been hidden in trucks, were brought to bear upon them. Only a few men survived this attack and were witnesses to the event. More than 100 US Servicemen died. The scene was re-created in the movie, Battle of the Bulge, starring Henry Fonda.
Fought on the same card as Jack Warden in Madison Square Garden.
Studied the Martial Arts earlier in his career
Won Broadway's 1990 Tony Award as Best Actor (Featured Role - Play) for portraying Big Daddy in a revival of Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
His wife, Mary Ann, was his childhood sweetheart.
Served with the 1st Infantry Division in World War II. He landed at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 during the Normandy invasion. He was awarded several decorations, including the Combat Infantryman's Badge, Silver Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal, and three Purple Hearts.
Former professional boxer.
Survived the bloody D-Day assault on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. Took him 50 years to talk about his experiences of that day.
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