R.I.P. CHARLES DURNING
APPEARED IN DE PALMA'S 'HI, MOM!', 'SISTERS', & 'THE FURY'; VOICE DUB IN 'SCARFACE'Charles During
, who appeared in three Brian De Palma
films, passed away on Christmas Eve of natural causes, according to The Hollywood Reporter
. He was 89. Durning was a World War II veteran who was part of the D-Day invasion, and received a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts, the Hollywood Reporter article states.
One of his earliest film roles was as the snarly superintendent who shows Robert De Niro
's character a New York apartment at the beginning of De Palma's Hi, Mom!
in 1970. De Palma cast Durning in 1973's Sisters
as the private detective who helps Grace track down the body of the man she sees murdered from her apartment window.
In De Palma's The Fury
(1978), Durning took a serious turn as the director of the Paragon Institute, who studies psychic abilities, and who tries in vain to protect Gillian from the sinister grasp of Childress, played by John Cassavetes
. Following an intense episode with Gillian on the stairs of the institute, Durning is chilling as, shot from above, he orders his staff to take precautions around the powerful psychic. Durning also provided an uncredited voice overdub as an immigration officer in the opening interrogation scene of De Palma's Scarface
Prior to Scarface
, Durning had worked with Al Pacino
on Sidney Lumet
's Dog Day Afternoon
. He would work with Pacino again in Warren Beatty
's Dick Tracy
. Durning also worked with De Niro again in 1981, for Ulu Grosbard
's True Confessions
, which was based on the unsolved murder of Elizabeth Short
, later the subject of De Palma's The Black Dahlia
Rutanya Alda appeared in both Hi, Mom! and The Fury. A year after the latter, Durning and Alda both appeared in the cult movie When A Stranger Calls (and Durning later reprised his role in the 1993 made-for-TV sequel). In 1986, Durning appeared in Cassavetes' Big Trouble (Cassavetes would take acting jobs in films such as De Palma's The Fury in order to help finance his own independent features). That same year, Durning appeared in Tough Guys, which starred Kirk Douglas, the big name star of The Fury.
Just prior to the incident on the stairs in The Fury, Durning's character tells Gillian that at her age, his one great ambition was to be Fred Astaire. In fact, Durning was once a dance instructor at the Fred Astaire Dance Studios, where he met his first wife, Carol, a fellow dance instructor. Their daughter Jeanine Durning is a New York-based choreographer and modern dancer.
Durning is perhaps best known for his roles in George Roy Hill's The Sting and in Sydney Pollack's Tootsie, but he was nominated for supporting actor Oscars two years in a row: in 1983, for his role in The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas (for which Durning sang and danced), and, in 1984, for his role in To Be Or Not To Be. Durning also appeared in two Coen Brothers films, The Hudsucker Proxy and O Brother, Where Art Thou?, as well as a film by Billy Wilder, The Front Page. Durning was also a friend of Burt Reynolds, and collaborated with him on several projects.