|February 28, 1923 – December 24, 2012|
You may know Charles Durning from:
Movies: The Sting, Dog Day Afternoon, O Brother, Where Art Thou?
TV Movies: Captains and the Kings, Death of a Salesman
TV Series: Evening Shade, and a recurring role on Everybody Loves Raymond
Christmas Movies: Mrs. Santa Claus, A Boyfriend for Christmas
(and many more, here)
Charles Durning, who portrayed a wonderful Santa Claus, passed away on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2012.
Durning was born in Highland Falls, New York, the fourth of ten children. His four brothers James, Clifford, Frances, and Gerald Durning survived to adulthood, but his five sisters lost their lives to scarlet fever and smallpox as children. His mother, Louise was a laundress at West Point, and his father, James Durning was an Irish immigrant who gained U.S. citizenship by joining the army. Durning was raised Catholic, and was at one time considering becoming a priest. (excerpted from Wikipedia)
In his mid-teens, Durning left home to find work. He had a series of factory jobs before he discovered acting. As an usher, Durning got first-hand experience in vaudeville at a Buffalo, New York theater. (biography.com)
As well as having a great acting career, we honor Mr. Durning for being a WWII veteran and his service to our country. Drafted at age 21, he was first assigned as a rifleman with the 398th Infantry Regiment, and later served overseas with the 3rd Army Support troops and the 386th Anti-aircraft Artillery (AAA) Battalion. Durning participated in the Normandy Invasion of France on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and was among the first troops to land at Omaha Beach. (Wikipedia) Durning suffered machine gun wounds to his right leg and shrapnel injuries over his entire body. He also received eight stab wounds from a German soldier, whom he killed with a rock in hand-to-hand combat. As the lone survivor in his unit, Durning was immediately shipped to England to recover, and returned to the frontlines for the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944. (TCM biography) Captured during the Battle of the Bulge, Durning managed to survive a massacre of American soldiers being held in Belgium. (biography.com)
In recent years, Mr. Durning would honor our Veterans by being a honored guest speaker at the National Memorial Day Concerts in Washington, D.C. For his valor and the wounds he received during the war, Durning was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, three Purple Heart medals, and the World War II Victory Medal. (Wikipedia)
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Durnings three children, family, and friends.
On this day... we fondly remember this Legendary Actor and American Hero.