CHARLES DURNING Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Charles Durning                                                               
Born: 28 February 1923 Highland Falls, New York                                     
Charles Durning (born February 28, 1923) is a Golden Globe Award-winning             
American actor of stage and screen.                                                 
Durning was born in Highland Falls, New York, the son of Louise and James           
Durning. He was raised in an impoverished family, and left his home as soon as       
possible to ease the financial pressure on his mother.                               
Durning served as a soldier in World War II, during which he was awarded a           
Silver Star, three Purple Heart medals, and a Good Conduct Medal. He was drafted     
into the U.S. Army at the age of 21, and landed on D-Day in the Normandy             
Invasion on June 6, 1944. Some sources state he was in the 1st Infantry Division     
at the time, but it is unclear if he was a rifleman or in an artillery unit by       
On Omaha Beach itself, Pvt. Charles Durning was among the first troops to land.     
Drafted early in the war, he was first assigned as a rifleman with the 398th         
Infantry Regiment, but later served overseas with the 3rd Army Support troops       
and the 386th Anti-aircraft Artillery (AAA) Battalion.                               
Durning was wounded by an “S” Mine on June 15, 1944, at Les Mare des Mares. He   
was transported by the 499th Medical Collection Company to the 24th Evacuation       
Hospital. By June 17, he was back in England at the 217th General Hospital.         
Although severely wounded by shrapnel in the left and right thigh, right hand,       
the frontal region of the head and the interior left chest wall, Durning             
recovered quickly and was determined to be “fit for duty” on December 6, 1944.   
Durning was present for the Battle of the Bulge, the German counter-offensive in     
December 1944.                                                                       
He was taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge, and was one of the few         
survivors of the infamous Malmedy massacre of American POWs, perpetrated by a       
battlegroup under Joachim Peiper of the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf       
Hitler. "He escaped with two others, and returned to find the remainder murdered."   
After being wounded in the chest, Durning was repatriated to the United States       
where he remained in army hospitals, receiving treatment for both physical and       
psychological wounds, until discharged with the rank of Private First Class on       
January 30, 1946.                                                                   
Durning has said that he still suffers from nightmares about his war experiences     
(which is common among veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder,         
although Durning himself is not confirmed to have suffered PTSD).                   
He was nominated for an Emmy Award for his extraordinary portrayal of a Marine       
veteran in "Call of Silence", an unusual episode of the television series NCIS,     
first broadcast November 23, 2004. Clearly drawing on his first-hand knowledge       
of the lingering effects of battle-induced stress, Durning's character turns         
himself in to authorities, insisting that he must be prosecuted for having           
murdered his buddy during ferocious combat on Iwo Jima six decades earlier.         
The real truth of the incident only becomes known for certain when the guilt-stricken
veteran goes through a cathartic reliving of the battlefield events.                 
Durning is well-known for participating in various functions to honor American       
veterans. He was the chairman one year of the U.S. National Salute to               
Hospitalized Veterans.                                                               
Durning's breakthrough film performance was in the 1973 Best Picture, The Sting.     
In the film, Durning plays a corrupt policeman, Lieutenant Snyder, who polices       
and hustles professional con artists. He doggedly pursues the young grifter         
Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford), only to become the griftee in the end. Since         
then he has amassed over 100 film and TV credits, including Queen of the             
Stardust Ballroom, Dog Day Afternoon (with Al Pacino), the sci-fi classic The       
Final Countdown, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. In 1979, he played Doc     
Hopper, the main villain in The Muppet Movie. In Tootsie he plays a suitor to a     
cross-dressing Dustin Hoffman. The two actors worked together again in a 1985 TV     
production of Death of a Salesman. In 1993, Durning guest starred in the Sean       
Penn-directed music video for "Dance with the One That Brought You" by Shania       
More recently he has played a benevolent father to Holly Hunter in Home for the     
Holidays (1995), a savvy southern state governor ("Pappy" O'Daniel) in O Brother,   
Where Art Thou, and as Victor Rasdale in Dirty Deeds. In 1996 he played Lew in       
the romantic comedy One Fine Day and Santa Claus in the Sesame Street home video     
"Elmo Saves Christmas". He played town doctor Harlan Eldridge on the Burt           
Reynolds sitcom Evening Shade (1990-1994). He subsequently had a recurring role     
on Everybody Loves Raymond (1996 – 2005) as the Barone family's long-suffering     
parish priest, Father Hubley. He also played the voice of recurring character       
Francis Griffin in the animated series Family Guy until the episode Peter's Two     
Dads where the character died.                                                       
For his roles on television, Durning has earned eight Emmy Award nominations. He     
has also received Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor nominations for The       
Best Little Whorehouse in Texas in 1982 and for To Be or Not to Be in 1983. He       
won a Golden Globe in 1990 for his supporting role in the television miniseries     
The Kennedys of Massachusetts.                                                       
He can currently be seen on the FX television series Rescue Me, playing Mike         
Gavin, the retired firefighter father of Denis Leary's character. The character     
died in the Season 4 finale. His daughter Jeanine Durning is a well known New       
York-based modern dance performer and choreographer.                                 
Charles Durning was honored with the Life Achievement Award at the 14th Annual       
Screen Actors Guild Award Ceremony on January 27, 2008.