The latest news hit older movie buffs the hardest. Actor Charles Durning had died.
Charles Durning was 89 years of age and whether people remember his name or not, his looks are distinguishable to anyone. Durning made a presence in the world of American films. From Broadway to comedy flicks, Durning’s acting skills made an impression.
He went from being a cop gone astray in the 1973 film, “The Sting,” playing alongside names such as Paul Newman and Robert Redford. In 1979, he made his appearance in “North Dallas Forty,” with Nick Nolte. Durning portrayed a strong, hypocritical character in “True Confessions,” in 1981.
Durning encapsulated all that is meaningful in the acting field. He was never a typecast character. His talents took him from gruff to gentle characters, from funny to serious. He brought the character to life in his soul and it showed on stage.
The award-winning comedy, “Tootsie,” from 1982 was an amazing portrayal of Durning’s abilities as an actor. He took viewers on an emotional ride as Les, Jessica Lange’s father. He caught the Tootsie fever when he laid eyes on the cross-dressing Dustin Hoffman character.
Mr. Durning has two Oscar nominations under his belt. They were for the supporting roles in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” and “To Be or Not to Be,” with Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft.
Despite the amazing film, Broadway and television roles Mr. Durning perfected, he lacked confidence in himself as an actor.
Although Durning released so much of himself in the characters he played, he tells Parade that he could lose himself in acting. His past is filled with the remnants of war. He tells the magazine,
I was crossing a field somewhere in Belgium. A German soldier ran toward me, carrying a bayonet. He couldn’t have been more than 14 or 15. I didn’t see a soldier. I saw a boy. Even though he was coming at me, I couldn’t shoot.
Mr. Durning continued to say that he was stabbed seven or eight times in the fight that ensued. He grabbed a rock and killed the youth. Picking up the boy’s corpse, he held him in his arms and wept. Durning stated the memories of war were a constant with him. They never disappeared from his life. The remnants of WWII made him what he was. He tells Parade:
There are many secrets in us, in the depths of our souls that we don’t want anyone to know about. There’s terror and repulsion in us, the terrible spot that we don’t talk about. That place that no one knows about – horrifying things we keep secret. A lot of that is released through acting.