Actor Charles Durning Dies At 89

I interviewed Charles Durning once but have retained no copy of the article. In our conversation, we talked mostly about Durning’s service during World War II. I’d venture to say that this part of his life is what most surprised people reading his obits right now: the veteran character actor has just died at age 89. About that service, Durning — who I loved in “Tootsie” but also remember from such stage roles as Big Daddy (pictured) — talked to me about being in the first wave of troops to land on Omaha Beach on D-Day and being his unit’s lone survivor of a machine-gun ambush. It was harrowing stuff, and it is to Durning’s supreme credit that he overcame the trauma associated with battle to eventually become a revered performer. There is no Durning mold now broken: he was custom.

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