Actors Charles Durning and Jack Klugman Dead

Two well-known actors died over the holiday, Klugman of "The Odd Couple" TV series and Durning, star of many films including 'Tootsie.'

Hollywood lost two legendary actors over the Christmas holiday, Charles Durning, and Jack Klugman.

Charles Durning, a two-time Oscar nominee known for a wide-range of character roles on film, television and stage, died of natural causes on Christmas Eve. He was 89.

The Hollywood Historic trust will place memorial flowers at Durning's star Wednesday at 1 p.m. at 6504 Hollywood Blvd.

Durning died Christmas Eve in Manhattan at his home, his daughter, Michele, told reporters in New York, reports City News Service.

His family remembered him as a war hero, consummate professional and as
someone who loved the Christmas season.

"Not only was Charlie a war hero, but he was a hero to his family,''
his stepdaughter Anita Gregory said in a statement. "Charlie loved Christmas
and if he could have chosen a time to pass, he would have chosen this day. 

"Charlie lived the spirit of Christmas each and every day of his life. He brought joy and a smile to everyone's life. He lit up the world by his wonderful sense of humor and his amazing talent. He was truly a great and kind man, a hero in every sense of the word.''

His Oscar nominations came for his roles as the comically corrupt
governor in the 1982 film, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas' and as a
bumbling Nazi officer in Mel Brooks' 1983 film, To Be Or Not To Be.

He also had memorable roles in such films as The Sting, Tootsie, Dog Day Afternoon and O Brother Where Art Thou? and in dozens of television movies and guest appearances.

Durning, whose acting career began in the 1950s, won a Tony Award for
his role as Big Daddy in the 1990 revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

In 2008, Durning was honored with the Screen Actors Guild's Lifetime
Achievement Award, which was presented to him by longtime friend and
Whorehouse co-star Burt Reynolds. That same year, he also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame placed next to that of his idol, James Cagney.

"This has been a dream of mine ever since I got here,'' Durning told
the crowd during his Walk of Fame ceremony. "I never thought I'd get here.''

Born Feb. 28, 1923, in Highland Falls, N.Y., Durning worked as a singer with
a band at age 16. He was also a professional boxer in his youth.

While serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Durning was awarded
a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts, including one for a chest wound that
required treatment until January 1946, months after the war ended.

He was among the first troops to land on Omaha Beach during the Normandy Invasion, was taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge, and was one of the few survivors of the Malmedy massacre of American prisoners.

Durning and his first wife, Carol, had three children before divorcing in 1972. In 1974, he married his high school sweetheart, Mary Ann Amelio. He is also survived by his three children, Michele, Douglas, and Jeannine and two stepchildren. His family is planning a private funeral service with burial to follow at Arlington National Cemetery.

Veteran actor Klugman, best known as the messy half of TV's "The Odd Couple'' and the resourceful medical examiner on the long-running "Quincy, M.E.'' died Christmas Eve. He was 90.

Klugman's attorney, Larry Larson, said the actor died peacefully at his
Northridge home with his wife of nearly five years, Peggy, at his side. He is survived by two sons, David and Adam, and two grandchildren.

--City News Service


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