The Broadway community mourns the loss of acclaimed actor Charles Durning, who passed away on Monday at age 89. The marquees of Broadway theatres in New York will be dimmed in his memory tonight, Thursday, December 27th, at exactly 8:00pm for one minute.
Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of The Broadway League, said, "Charles Durning was a memorable figure on Broadway who delighted audiences in thousands of performances. It made no difference if he was an ensemble player or leading man, his talent enabled him to show the truth and reveal the story of any role. He will be greatly missed."
Mr. Durning's portrayal of Big Daddy, the bullying, dying plantation owner in a 1990 Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, brought him a Tony Award for best featured actor in a play. In his breakout performance in 1972, he drew praise as a small-town mayor seeking re-election in That Championship Season, Jason Miller's Tony-winning drama about the reunion of a high school basketball team.
He went on to appear in a pair of 1973 Broadway productions - David Rabe's Boom Boom Room and Hugh Leonard's Au Pair Man, in which he co-starred with Julie Harris - and, three years later, in Jules Feiffer's comedy Knock Knock.
In 1996 he fought a courtroom duel with George C. Scott in a Broadway revival of Inherit the Wind. The next year Mr. Durning starred with Julie Harris in a Broadway revival of The Gin Game, D. L. Coburn's Pulitzer-winning play about two nursing home residents whose game of cards becomes a clash of wills. In 2000, in a retitled revival called Gore Vidal's 'The Best Man,' he played an ailing former president who tries to mediate a power struggle between two candidates.
With appearances in over 100 films, Mr. Durning's memorable roles include police officers in 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.