25 December 2012 4:30 AM, PST | PEOPLE.com | See recent PEOPLE.com news »

Charles Durning, the versatile character actor whose friendly face and full form was recognizable to movie audiences since the mid-'70s, died of natural causes at his Manhattan home Dec. 24, his agent confirmed. He was 89. Among his roles: The corrupt cop in The Sting, the show-stopping Governor in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (for which he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar), Jessica Lange's father and Dustin Hoffman's love-smitten suitor in Tootsie, a buffoon of a German officer in To Be Or Not to Be (another Oscar nod) and Warren Beatty's law-enforcement boss in Dick Tracy. His range of real-life roles was even broader. Durning, a genuine World War II hero with the Purple Hearts to prove it, worked in a button factory, taught ballroom dancing, sung on radio, trained as a stockbroker and painted bridges. According to a 1990 People profile, at the time he played Big Daddy to Kathleen Turner's Maggie the Cat in a Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, During had been on his own since age 16, when he left home because his widowed mother, Louise, was having trouble supporting five kids on the money she earned laundering cadets' uniforms at West Point. (His father, an Army sergeant, died when Durning was 12.) »


- Stephen M. Silverman

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