Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Never worked with either of these guys and don't think I ever met them (though I have the vague memory of meeting Durning once). But they seemed like fixtures in my life because of all the work they did on the big and small screen.

Klugman first impressed me in his role in the original TWELVE ANGRY MEN, and that performance still holds up and always will. Durning I first noticed in DOG DAY AFTERNOON and THE STING, and later TOOTSIE I(he courts Dustin Hoffman's drag character). And those performances continue to hold up. He did other great work in less well known films, as did Klugman, who later became best know for his TV work.

They had good long lives and careers, and were the type of guys who always expressed their gratitude just to be working and have careers as character actors. They were as close as Hollywood got to the old studio system character actors who audiences knew and loved from years of seeing them in different films supporting the story and the stars. They will be missed.


Jamie Rose said...

Thought you'd be interested in this Facebook post by my friend Steve Tom.

"'d like to write just a few words about Charles Durning, who passed away on Christmas morning. Many of us are familiar with his great body of work as an actor, including a life achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild.

However, long before he began an acting career, Charles Durning was a highly-decorated soldier in World War II.

His is a remarkable story of survival. As a 21-year-old infantryman, Private Charles Durning was in the first wave of soldiers to land on Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion of Normandy. He was the only man to survive a machine-gun ambush. Despite suffering serious machine gun and shrapnel wounds, Durning killed seven German gunners to survive D-Day.

Several months later, in Belgium, Durning was stabbed eight times by a bayonet-wielding teenage German soldier. That day, he survived by killing the German with a rock in hand-to-hand combat. Durning recovered from those wounds and was released from the hospital just in time to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, where he was taken prisoner.

Charles Durning was one of only three men to survive the infamous massacre of American POWs at Malmedy, Belgium. He and two others escaped, and the rest were murdered. Durning was obliged to return with American troops to identify the bodies of his fellow prisoners.

Several months later, a chest wound caused his return to the US, where he recovered from both physical and psychological wounds in Army hospitals until being discharged as a Private First Class in January 1946, a month shy of his 23rd birthday.

For his service during World War II, Charles Durning was awarded the Silver Star Medal and three Purple Hearts.

In a People magazine interview in 1990, Durning said, "There's only so much you can witness." He spent four years in and out of Army hospitals, being treated for the physical and psychological scars of war.

In a Parade magazine interview, Durning is quoted as saying, "The physical injuries heal first. It's your mind that's hard to heal." Like many other soldiers, Durning continued to suffer from nightmares about his war experiences.

After being invited by his fellow soldier and fellow actor Ossie Davis to participate in the National Memorial Day Concert to commemorate the 60th anniversary of D-Day, Durning made it an annual event. He was well-known for participating in various events to honor American veterans.

That's an American hero, right there. Thought you might like to know that, if you didn't already."

Lally said...

Thanks Jamie, I did know all that and was always impressed even more with that part of his story than the acting, which sometimes made me uncomfortable even when impressive and I think it was because underlying some of his roles was a kind of anger I could identify but not necessarily identify with despite my own version of it. If that makes any sense.