89 (passed away Dec. 24th, 2012)
Feb. 28th, 1923
Highland Falls, New York, USA
Guest TV Roles
Francis Griffin (Voiced)
Assistant to the Boss
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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Was kicked out of the American Academy of Dramatic Art drama school because they thought he had no talent. Another famous thespian to be booted from the school was 'Jason Robards' (qv).
- At age 21, he was the only member of his unit to survive the Omaha Beach "D-Day" invasion on June 6, 1944. He was wounded in the hip and legs three days after he got off the boat. He still carries the bullet in his hip.
- 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.
- 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.