89 (passed away Dec. 24th, 2012)
Feb. 28th, 1923
Highland Falls, New York, USA
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Ex-pro boxer, WWII veteran, dance instructor and diversely talented stage & screen actor are all inclusions on the resume of this perpetually busy US actor who didn't get in front of the cameras until around the time of his fortieth birthday ! The stockily built Charles Durning is one of Hollywood's most dependable and sought after supporting actors who first got his start in guest appearances in early 1960's TV shows. He scored minor roles over the next decade until he really got noticed by film fans as the sneering, corrupt cop "Lt. Snyder" hassling street grifter 'Robert Redford' in the multi award winning mega-hit The Sting (1973). Durning was equally entertaining in the Billy Wilder production of The Front Page (1974), he supported screen tough guy Charles Bronson in the suspenseful western Breakheart Pass (1975) and featured as "Spermwhale Whalen" in the story of unorthodox police behavior in The Choirboys (1977).
The versatile Durning is equally adept at comedic roles and demonstrated his skills as "Doc Hopper" in The Muppet Movie (1979), a feisty football coach in North Dallas Forty (1979), a highly strung police officer berating maverick cop Burt Reynolds (I) in Sharky's Machine (1981), and a light footed, dancing Governor (alongside Burt Reynolds once more) in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982). Durning continued a regular on screen association with Burt Reynolds (I) appearing in several more feature films together and as "Dr. Harlan Elldridge" in the highly popular TV series "Evening Shade" (1990). On par with his multitude of feature film roles, Durning has always been in high demand on television and has guest starred in "Everybody Loves Raymond" (1996), "Monk" (2002) and "Rescue Me" (2004). Plus, he has appeared in the role of "Santa Claus" in five different telemovies!
- His breakthrough role occurred on Broadway in 1972 starring in "That Championship Season" where he was noticed by director 'George Roy Hill' (qv) who cast him in his acclaimed Oscar-winning movie _The Sting (1973)_ (qv).
- Was considered for the role of General Worden in _The Dirty Dozen (1967)_ (qv).
- Former professional boxer.
- His idol is 'James Cagney' (qv), who also proved he could be tough and dance, too.
- Has played Santa Claus five times to date, in _It Nearly Wasn't Christmas (1989) (TV)_ (qv), _Mrs. Santa Claus (1996) (TV)_ (qv), _Elmo Saves Christmas (1996) (V)_ (qv), _Mr. St. Nick (2002) (TV)_ (qv), and _A Boyfriend for Christmas (2004) (TV)_ (qv).
- His first job in the entertainment field was as an usher at a burlesque house. His career officially started as a singer with a band at the age of 16, before going into acting. His first professional play was in Buffalo before he went off to war.
- Won Broadway's 1990 Tony Award as Best Actor (Featured Role - Play) for portraying Big Daddy in a revival of 'Tennessee Williams' (qv)' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
- Despite the wounds he received in WWII (he was shot in the legs and hip by machine-gun fire), he went on to become a professional dancer and dance teacher. He taught at the 'Fred Astaire' (qv) studios and relied upon it when he couldn't find acting work.