‘King of character actors’ dies at 89LOS ANGELES - Charles Durning, the two-time Oscar nominee who was dubbed the “king of the character actors” for his skill in playing everything from a Nazi colonel to the pope, died Monday at his home in New York City. He was 89.
Durning’s longtime agent and friend Judith Moss told The Associated Press that he died Monday of natural causes in his home in the borough of Manhattan.
Although he portrayed everyone from blustery public officials to comic foils to put-upon everymen, Durning may be best remembered by movie audiences for his Oscar-nominated, over-the-top role as a comically corrupt governor in 1982’s “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”
Many critics marveled that such a heavyset man could be so nimble in the film’s show-stopping song-and-dance number, not realizing Durning had been a dance instructor early in his career. Indeed, he had met his first wife, Carol, when both worked at a dance studio.
The year after “Best Little Whorehouse,” Durning received another Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a bumbling Nazi officer in “To Be or Not to Be.”