Christopher Plummer Poster


Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trade Mark (3)  | Trivia (51)  | Personal Quotes (31)  | Salary (1)

Overview (5)

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Died in Weston, Connecticut, USA  (complications from a fall)
Birth NameArthur Christopher Orme Plummer
Nickname Chris
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Legendary actor Christopher Plummer, perhaps Canada's greatest thespian, delivered outstanding performances as Sherlock Holmes in Murder by Decree (1979), the chilling villain in The Silent Partner (1978), the iconoclastic Mike Wallace in The Insider (1999), the empathetic psychiatrist in A Beautiful Mind (2001), the kindly and clever mystery writer in Knives Out (2019), and as Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station (2009). It was this last role that finally brought him recognition from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, when he was nominated as Best Actor in a Supporting Role, one of three Academy Award nominations he received in the 2010s, along with All the Money in the World (2017) (as J. Paul Getty) and Beginners (2010); he won for the latter role. He will also likely always be remembered as Captain Von Trapp in the atomic bomb-strength blockbuster The Sound of Music (1965), a film he publicly despised until softening his stance in his autobiography "In Spite of Me" (2008).

Christopher Plummer was born Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer on December 13, 1929 in Toronto, Ontario. He was the only child of Isabella Mary (Abbott), a secretary to the Dean of Sciences at McGill University, and John Orme Plummer, who sold securities and stocks. Christopher was a great-grandson of John Abbott, who was Canada's third Prime Minister (from 1891 to 1892), and a great-great-great-grandson of Presbyterian clergyman John Bethune. He had Scottish, English, Anglo-Irish, and Cornish ancestry. Plummer was raised in Senneville, Quebec, near Montreal, at his maternal grandparents' home.

Aside from the youngest member of the Barrymore siblings (which counted Oscar-winners Ethel Barrymore and Lionel Barrymore in their number), Plummer was the premier Shakespearean actor to come out of North America in the 20th century. He was particularly memorable as Hamlet, Iago and Lear, though his Macbeth opposite Glenda Jackson was -- and this was no surprise to him due to the famous curse attached to the "Scottish Play" -- a failure.

Like another great stage actor, Richard Burton, early in his career Plummer failed to connect with the screen in a way that would make him a star. Dynamic on stage, he didn't succeed as a younger leading man in films. Perhaps if he had been born earlier, and acted in the studio system of Hollywood's golden age, he could have been carefully groomed for stardom. As it was, he shared the English stage actors' disdain -- and he was equally at home in London as he was on the boards of Broadway or on-stage in his native Canada -- for the movies, which did not help him in that medium, as he has confessed. As he aged, Plummer excelled at character roles. He was always a good villain, this man who garnered kudos playing Lucifer on Broadway in Archibald Macleish's Pulitzer Prize-winning "J.B.".

Plummer won two Emmy Awards out of seven nominations stretching 46 years from 1959 and 2011, and one Genie Award in six nominations from 1980 to 2009. For his stage work, Plummer has racked up two Tony Awards on six nominations, the first in 1974 as Best Actor (Musical) for the title role in "Cyrano" and the second in 1997, as Best Actor (Play), in "Barrymore". Surprisingly, he did not win (though he was nominated) for his masterful 2004 performance of "King Lear", which he originated at the Stratford Festival in Ontario and brought down to Broadway for a sold-out run. His other Tony nominations show the wide range of his talent, from a 1959 nod for the Elia Kazan-directed production of Macleish's "J.B." to recognition in 1994 for Harold Pinter's "No Man's Land", with a 1982 Best Actor (Play) nomination for his "Iago" in William Shakespeare's "Othello".

Until the 2009 Academy Awards were announced, it could be said about Plummer that he was the finest actor of the post-World War II period to fail to get an Academy Award. In that, he was following in the footsteps of the late great John Barrymore, whom Plummer so memorably portrayed on Broadway in a one-man show that brought him his second Tony Award. In 2010, Plummer finally got an Oscar nod for his portrayal of another legend, Lev Tolstoy in The Last Station (2009). Two years later, the first paragraph of his obituary was written when the 82-year-old Plummer became the oldest person in Academy history to win an Oscar. He won for playing a senior citizen who comes out as gay after the death of his wife in the movie Beginners (2010). As he clutched his statuette, the debonaire thespian addressed it thus: "You're only two years older than me darling, where have you been all of my life?"

Plummer then told the audience that at birth, "I was already rehearsing my Academy acceptance speech, but it was so long ago mercifully for you I've forgotten it." The Academy Award was a long time in coming and richly deserved.

Plummer gave many other fine portrayals on film, particularly as he grew older and settled down into a comfortable marriage with his third wife Elaine. He continued to be an in-demand character actor in prestigious motion pictures. If he were English rather than Canadian, he would have been knighted. (In 1968, he was appointed Companion of the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honor and one which required the approval of the sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II.) If he lived in the company town of Los Angeles rather than in Connecticut, he likely would have several more Oscar nominations before winning his first for "The Last Station".

As it is, as attested to in his witty and well-written autobiography, Plummer was amply rewarded in life. In 1970, Plummer - then a self-confessed 43-year-old "bottle baby" - married his third wife Elaine Taylor, a dancer, who helped wean him off his dependency on alcohol. They lived happily with their dogs on a 30-acre estate in Weston, Connecticut. He thanked her from the stage during the 2012 Oscar telecast, quipping that she "deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for coming to my rescue every day of my life." Although he spent the majority of his time in the United States, he remained a Canadian citizen. He died in his Weston, Connecticut home on February 5, 2021 at age 91.

His daughter, with actress Tammy Grimes, is actress Amanda Plummer.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Family (3)

Spouse Elaine Taylor (2 October 1970 - 5 February 2021)  (his death)
Patricia Lewis (4 May 1962 - 10 January 1967)  (divorced)
Tammy Grimes (19 August 1956 - 2 September 1960)  (divorced)  (1 child)
Children Amanda Plummer
Parents Plummer, John Orme
Abbott, Isabella Mary

Trade Mark (3)

Rich smooth voice
Often played aristocratic characters
Charming yet amoral characters

Trivia (51)

Became a father for the first time at age 27 when his first wife, Tammy Grimes, gave birth to their daughter, Amanda Plummer (Amanda Michael Plummer), on March 23, 1957.
Attended and graduated from the High School of Montreal in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Grew up partly in the village of Senneville, Québec, Canada, where he spent the summers in his great-grandfather's palatial estate.
Was the great-grandson of former Canadian Prime Minister Sir John Abbott.
On 5/22/02, he was awarded the first Jason Robards Award for Excellence in Theatre by the Roundabout Theatre. His The Sound of Music (1965) co-star Dame Julie Andrews was among those in attendance.
His first paying role was in "Machina Infernale" (The Infernal Machine) by Jean Cocteau, in which he worked with another young Montreal actor, William Shatner. The two were reunited years later when they both appeared in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991).
Received an honorary degree (Doctor of Laws) from the University of Western Ontario on 6/8/04.
Schoolmates with jazz piano master Oscar Peterson.
He and daughter Amanda Plummer both received Emmy Award nominations (2005). She won, he did not.
Trained to become a concert pianist before turning his attention to acting.
Was actually born on 12/13/29, although most publications usually state his birthday as 12/13/27.
Was only 13 years older than Charmian Carr, who played his daughter in The Sound of Music (1965).
Was one of 115 people invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) in 2007.
Had turned down the role of Gandalf in Sir Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and admits to regretting that decision. The role went to Sir Ian McKellen.
Had worked with both Obi-Wan Kenobis on film. Sir Alec Guinness played his father in The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), while Plummer later played father to Ewan McGregor in Beginners (2010).
Had worked with two Spider-Mans. First he worked with Nicholas Hammond in The Sound of Music (1965), and later with Andrew Garfield in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009).
He and daughter Amanda Plummer have both appeared in adaptation of Stephen King novels. Amanda appeared in Needful Things (1993), while Christopher appeared in Dolores Claiborne (1995).
Had played Christian in a television production of "Cyrano de Bergerac", opposite José Ferrer, and later played Cyrano himself. In the former role, he performed the translation by Brian Hooker. In the latter, he performed the translation by Anthony Burgess, which he personally selected Burgess to write.
Was the only actor from The Sound of Music (1965) to meet the real Maria von Trapp in Vermont as a child.
He was awarded a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto, Ontario, in 1998 (charter member).
Had played the title role in Hamlet at Elsinore (1964), appearing with Michael Caine, who played Hamlet's closest friend Horatio. Caine later said he had never truly understood Hamlet until he saw Plummer performing the role.
At age 82, he was the oldest person to receive an Academy Award. At age 88, he became the oldest person ever to be nominated for an acting Academy Award for All the Money in the World (2017).
Was one of four consecutive Oscar winners in the Best Supporting Actor category whose name begins with Chris, the other actors being Christian Bale and Christoph Waltz (who won twice).
Both he and his daughter, Amanda Plummer, have played in Jean Anouilh's "The Lark", he appeared on Broadway (1955) and she appeared in Stratford (2005).
Was one of nine actors to have won the Triple Crown of Acting (an Oscar, Emmy and Tony); the others in chronological order are Thomas Mitchell, Melvyn Douglas, Paul Scofield, Jack Albertson, Jason Robards, Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino and Geoffrey Rush.
In 2012, he became the 21st performer to have received the Triple Crown of Acting: the 1974 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical ("Cyrano") and the 1997 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play ("Barrymore"), the 1977 Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series (Arthur Hailey's the Moneychangers (1976)) and the 1994 Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance (Madeline (1989)), and the 2012 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (Beginners (2010)).
Had appeared with Donald Sutherland in four films: Oedipus the King (1968), The Disappearance (1977), Murder by Decree (1979) and Ordeal by Innocence (1984).
Had appeared with Susannah York in four films: The Battle of Britain (1969), Lock Up Your Daughters! (1969), Conduct Unbecoming (1975) and The Silent Partner (1978).
Had appeared in two films which have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant": The Sound of Music (1965) and Malcolm X (1992).
As of 2018, had appeared in four films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar: The Sound of Music (1965), The Insider (1999), A Beautiful Mind (2001) and Up (2009). The Sound of Music (1965) and A Beautiful Mind (2001) are winners in the category.
Had played the role of King Herod in two adaptations made forty years apart: the epic miniseries Jesus of Nazareth (1977) and the animated comedy The Star (2017).
He had two roles in common with Peter Cushing: (1) Cushing played Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), Sherlock Holmes (1964) and Sherlock Holmes and the Masks of Death (1984) while Plummer played him in The Sunday Drama: Silver Blaze (1977) and Murder by Decree (1979) and (2) Cushing played Professor Van Helsing in Horror of Dracula (1958), The Brides of Dracula (1960), Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972), The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) while Plummer played him in Dracula 2000 (2000).
Was one of 14 actors to have won the Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Critics' Choice Award, Golden Globe Award and SAG Award for the same performance. The others in chronological order are Geoffrey Rush for Shine (1996), Jamie Foxx for Ray (2004), Philip Seymour Hoffman for Capote (2005), Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland (2006), Javier Bardem for No Country for Old Men (2007), Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood (2007) and Lincoln (2012), Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight (2008), Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds (2009), Colin Firth for The King's Speech (2010), J.K. Simmons for Whiplash (2014), Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant (2015), Sam Rockwell for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017), and Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour (2017).
His mother Isabella was a secretary to the Dean of Sciences at McGill University after her divorce from John Orme Plummer who sold stocks in Toronto and never lived in Montreal. In his memoir "In Spite of Myself" (2008), he writes where his mother was doubly disgraced for an upper-class woman in the 1930s, being both divorced and having to go out to work. This explains why he was born in Toronto, and grew up in Montreal. He and his father did not meet until Christopher was 17.
Was a distant cousin of Nigel Bruce. Bruce was best known for playing Dr. John Watson, and Plummer went on to play Sherlock Holmes.
Although he played Sir Alec Guinness' son in the epic drama The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), he was only 15 years his junior in real life.
His great-uncle (paternal grandmother's brother) was F.B. Fetherstonhaugh (Frederick Barnard Fetherstonhaugh), a patent lawyer and agent who founded the patent agency Fetherstonhaugh and Company.
Pictured on a Canadian permanent-rate commemorative postage stamp issued 10/13/21. He was consulted on every phase of production, including approval of the stamp's design. The stamp was issued in booklets of ten and panes of six. The price on the day of issue for a single stamp was CAN 95¢.
The longest he has gone without an Academy Award nomination is the six years between Beginners (2010) and All the Money in the World (2017).
He cited Jean Renoir's war drama The Grand Illusion (1937) as the film that moved him into tears more often than any other during his lifetime.
He admitted in an interview that he took the role of the Emperor of the Galaxy in the space opera Starcrash (1978) so he could visit Rome for free.
He was considered for the lead role of Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File (1965), which he turned down for The Sound of Music (1965). The role went to Sir Michael Caine.
He was considered for the role of Old Deuteronomy in the musical fantasy Cats (2019) before the character was made a female. The role went to Dame Judi Dench.
He was awarded the CC (Companion of the Order of Canada) in the 1968 Queen's Honours List for his services to the performing arts; Canada's highest civilian honor.
Spoke English and French fluently, from his bilingual upbringing in Senneville, Quebec where he passed his summers, and in downtown Montreal where he lived the rest of the year.
Had English, Cornish, Scottish, Northern Irish, and distant French-Canadian and Swiss-French, ancestry.
He counted fellow actor Jason Robards as one of his greatest drinking buddies.
Upon his death, Plummer was cremated and his ashes were given to his widow.
He joined the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1960.
He never retired from acting until his death.
He quit smoking cigarettes in 1970.

Personal Quotes (31)

[why he prefers playing evil characters] The devil is more interesting than God.
Unless you can surround yourself with as many beautiful things as you can afford, I don't think life has very much meaning.
I'm bored with questions about acting.
[on working with Dame Julie Andrews] Working with her is like being hit over the head with a Valentine's card.
[on Franchot Tone, who starred onstage with him in "The Petrified Forest"] His sense of humor, as one might guess, was seemingly self-deprecating, drawn always from this inexplicable inner torment. These vulnerable qualities were to make his Chekovian performances ("Uncle Vanya" and "A Moon for the Misbegotten"), both of whom I later saw, so memorable - a rare combination of lightness and poignancy... I saw in him someone I could perhaps one day aspire to; not the hidden sad, pained man that was part of Franchot but the part he couldn't conceal, no matter how hard he tried, the part that was refined, noble and infinitely kind.
[on working with Michael Langham] Hamlet can sound self-pitying. He's always whining, something being rotten in Denmark and the world so awful. To get over that, Michael suggested that because Hamlet himself had a large intellect, that he turned those complaining moments into a kind of wonderment and would analyze everything as a fresh discovery. It was a superb way of getting rid of the danger of self-pity, and an astounding piece of direction because it was valuable throughout the play.
[on working with Michael Langham] When I did "Henry V", he changed my life. Really owe my career to Michael.
[on being asked whether he had made his peace with his most famous film The Sound of Music (1965)] Oh, God no.
[on the enduring appeal of The Sound of Music (1965)] Yeah, it drives me nuts. It has nothing to do with the movie, it's just a relentless pursuing of this film that goes on and on and I've gone on and on, far above and beyond it and then to be reminded of it, God almighty what is the matter with people?
Too many people in the world are unhappy with their lot. And then they retire and they become vegetables. I think retirement in any profession is death, so I'm determined to keep crackin'.
[2011, a revised opinion on The Sound of Music (1965)] People were unnaturally sentimental about the film. So I always gave it a tough time. But a few years ago, I went to an Easter party and had to watch the damn thing with these kids. I was a prisoner! And then I thought, it's got everything - the lovely songs, the Nazis and the nuns and the kids. It's timeless and I'm grateful for it.
[on receiving a Screen Actors Guild award for Beginners (2010)] I just can't tell you what fun I've had being a member of the world's second oldest profession. When they honor you, it's like being lit by the holy grail.
[on the ability to convey a sense of pathos] Very few people have it naturally - Chaplin, Brando. It's a gift. But you can learn how to fake it.
Ewan (McGregor) doesn't act, he inhabits a role. And, of course, he makes you not act and inhabit the role, like it's a competition. I owe that to him.
As T.S. Eliot measures his life with coffee spoons, so I measure mine by the plays I've been in. I'm too vague to measure any other way.
The theatre is not for sissies. It separates the men from the boys.
[a portion of his Oscar acceptance speech for Beginners (2010)] I would happily share this award with [Ewan McGregor] if I had any decency but I don't.
[to his Oscar statuette at the 2012 Academy Awards] You're only two years older than me, darling. Where have you been all my life?
[on cell-phones ringing during a live performance] The only thing to do is to say something like "I'll get it." The audience gives you applause because they hate it too.
I think many of today's politicians take a typical CEO mentality when it comes to the arts. It's anathema to them. It's the last thing they think of when it comes to funding; it's way down at the bottom of the list. That is unconscionable. It's so stupid and narrow-minded. They don't realize. It's all about political manoeuvring.
Television is certainly more skilfully handled [now] than it was then. There are certain things, like Sherlock (2010), which is enchanting and perfectly right for a younger audience. And the truly wonderful thing about it is that it is not disloyal to the original. There's a Conan Doyle feeling about it - something that Doyle would have written for this age. Benedict [Cumberbatch] is a superb actor. I love his beats. Those are rare things that happen marvelously in this medium.
[on Mike Wallace and his impact on public affairs programming] He had a lot to do with making it dangerous. He understood media. He understood how you could break down a person in front of a camera. It's a cruel medium. You have to deal with it skillfully. He was not a horrid man. I met him. He was very likable and very bright. But he knew it was a cruel medium and that it was an instant medium. It's now; it's in the moment. You can't rehearse it; you can't be glib. That's really what television is about. It's about what's happening in the streets, all the awful wars, all the awful things that are happening.
The writing was superior [in the '50s]. But then we had all the best writers, Horton Foote and others, writing for this brash new medium. It was as exciting as hell. It was an adventure. Television has become a little glossy. A little too comfortable.
I was much a part of live television in the '50s. There was something terribly honest about live television and terribly dangerous and terribly risky. You were bound to learn your lines without bumping into each other, which we did a lot of.
[observation, 2014] I'm thrilled to be around still, and I don't want to blow my horn, but I've done so many more parts than Barrymore ever got a chance to do. That Barrymore wasn't able - or willing to show his true range is one of the great missed opportunities of the theatrical stage. A terrible waste.
[on turning down the role of Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy] I don't know why I turned it down. I think it had to do with spending four years in New Zealand. There's other countries I want to visit before I croak. But Ian McKellen got the role and he was fantastic in it. He played the role really warm and kind and I hate the son-of-a-bitch!
[on undertaking the rushed refilling of a major character in All the Money in the World (2017)] I was just hopeful that at my age my memory would serve me. Because I had to learn my lines very quickly and I thought, "Oh, Christ, am I going to be able to hang on to this?" But that's because of years in the theatre. You're trained to be in an emergency like that. The whole theatrical experience is an emergency.
Somebody said, "Are you going to the Tonys?" I said no because the Tonys are a funny thing now. It's all musicals, and not particularly terrific musicals. Some are, some not. But that's it. What's happened to the legitimate theatre, the writing? Where's all that now? I'm not interested anymore. It's because English is not the first language. We're now playing to a huge foreign audience.
[on the effect of digital effects-heavy film blockbusters on acting] This whole new wave of young studs who look great against the green screen, they're at the mercy of all of that. It's at the mercy of phoney crocodiles and dragons. Technically it's simply wonderful, what goes on now.
My type of roles [early on were] sort of uptight, urbane, sophisticated young men ... sort of boring and dull. People don't have any imagination in this business, do they? I can do comedy. I can do all sorts of things. Why are they giving me this uptight crap? So I was so happy when I arrived at a certain age and I could become a character actor and be free of all that nonsense.
[on losing the leading role of King Henry II in Becket (1964) to Peter O'Toole] I wished I'd done that film. I adored Peter; he was a friend. But I could have killed him, the son-of-a-bitch, for taking the part.

Salary (1)

Starcrash (1978) $30,000

See also

Other Works |  Publicity Listings |  Official Sites

View agent, publicist, legal and company contact details on IMDbPro Pro Name Page Link

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed