Christopher Plummer, 'Music Heart' star and popular Oscar winner, dies at 91 (2023)

Despite all the roles he's played and all the accolades he's garnered throughout his long and distinguished career, Christopher Plummer found himself helpless in Capt. In Chains By Trapp, the imperious patriarchs of the Trapp family singers in "The Sound of Music."

The role made Plummer famous, opened doors for him in Hollywood and ensured that he would be fondly remembered by moviegoers around the world forever. But the classically trained actor found von Trapp a tired, one-dimensional and rigid character and the film cloying at best.

“I'm just sorry that after all these years of playing wonderful parts, I'm known for something so nice,” he told the Times in 1976. Still, he admitted: “It just made it easier for me to fill a theater. ”

Plummer, who was a highly respected and profitable stage and screen actor for half a century, died Friday at his Connecticut home, where he lived with his wife, Elaine Taylor. He was 91 years old.

"Chris was an extraordinary man who deeply loved and respected his profession with good old-fashioned manners, self-deprecating humor and the music of words," said Lou Pitt, Plummer's friend and manager of 46 years. “He was a national treasure who deeply appreciated his Canadian roots. Through his artistry and humanity he touched all of our hearts and his legendary life will live on for generations to come. He will be with us forever."


A regal star of an exquisite spectrum, Plummer has curated numerous stage roles and more than 200 film and television appearances during her eventful career. The actor honed his craft on the stage in New York in the 1950s, during the golden age of American theater, and in London in the 1960s, performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theater and "taking on many of the most important papers ever written". ". ."

Christopher Plummer, 'Music Heart' star and popular Oscar winner, dies at 91 (1)

Christopher Plummer accepts his Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Newcomers.

(Al Seib/Los Angeles Times)

He appeared in everything from Peter Shaffer's The Royal Hunt of the Sun to Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys and seemed to glide effortlessly from role to role. Although praised for his native skills on stage and film, he could be defiant and short-tempered.

However, over time, his demeanor and attitude seemed to improve and he praised his longevity, if not his legions of fans. Later in his career, he received a Tony Award for Barrymore and won his first Academy Award at the age of 82 for his role in 2010's Newcomers. He was also recognized in 2009 for the role of Russian writer Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station'Oscar. nominated And at the last moment heslipped into the role of billionaire J. Paul Gettyin All the Money in the World, when Kevin Spacey was removed from the completed 2018 film over allegations of sexual misconduct. At the time, at 88, he became the oldest actor to be nominated for an Academy Award.

One of his last film roles was in the blockbuster Knives Out, in which he played the patriarch whose murder the 2019 crime thriller deals with.

"How boring it would be to be just one thing, just a movie actor or just a stage actor, when you can go from one to the other. I think one helps the other," he told the Times in 1998 until he falls.

Christopher Plummer still has "a word or two" to say

Christopher Plummer still has "a word or two" to say

Plummer was born in Toronto on December 13, 1929, and grew up speaking French in the neighboring province of Quebec. He was the great-grandson of Canadian Prime Minister John Abbott and an only child. His parents divorced when he was young and he was raised by his mother and his grandparents.

"My parents were divorced and I was a bit shy," he told The Times in 1976.

He took refuge in literature and in the bottle. The long, cold Canadian winters were good for both of them, and with no siblings to play with, he said, he befriended the characters in the books he devoured.

“I come from a well-educated Anglo-American family who loved to read. And she inspired me. You made me read it, thank God," she said in a tone2014 Times-Interview.“You taught me how fun reading can be. We used to read aloud after dinner; it was a good habit that made me want to be an actor because I could act when it was my turn.”

Plummer trained as a concert pianist, but found greater satisfaction in the spoken word. He supported the theater and his shyness dissipated as he watched the actors and musicians capture the attention of his audience. He eventually got a place on Canadian radio, performing in both French and English, and at age 18 he made the transition to classical roles with Canadian repertory companies. His success took him to England, where he performed with the National Theater of Great Britain and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Christopher Plummer, 'Music Heart' star and popular Oscar winner, dies at 91 (3)

Jamie Lee Curtis, enlaces, Christopher Plummer, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon y Jaeden Martell em „Knives Out“.

(Claire Folger/Lionsgate)

He made his Broadway debut in 1954's The Starcross Story and is credited with starring in Elia Kazan's production of J.B. Plummer, who now works in New York and London, has gained admiration as a Shakespearean performer, appearing in everything from Hamlet to King Lear.

He also married stage actress Tammy Grimes. Later they had a daughter.Actress Amanda Plummer.

"We were two fans watching and admiring each other from 40 feet apart, just the thing to ensure a bond; we had a great time enjoying our separate climbs, too immature to take on the dual responsibilities of marriage and parenthood," he recalled. Plummer in your memories. Grimes eventually got fed up with Plummer's behavior and kicked him out of the house. He said that he rarely saw his daughter grow up.

Plummer made his film debut in 1958 in Sidney Lumet's Stage Struck. But his breakthrough role would be that of the austere Austrian baron in The Sound of Music.

"The world lost a talented actor today and I lost a dear friend," Julie Andrews, Plummer's "The Sound of Music" co-star, said in a statement Friday. "I cherish the memories of our work together and all the humor and fun we shared over the years."

Twentieth Century Fox's big-budget adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Salzburg musical propelled Plummer to the top despite having no singing experience.

Still a relatively unknown film actor, Plummer managed to outsell Sean Connery and Richard Burton for the role of the patriarch of the Trapp Family Singers. The role of Maria, who turned the captain's life upside down when she was hired to be the governess to her children, went to Andrews, not yet a bankable movie star, but she beat out Grace Kelly and Doris Day for the role. paper.

Christopher Plummer is comfortable with his writer's block

Christopher Plummer is comfortable with his writer's block

But the brightness of Plummer's screen belied her true feelings for the role.

"I arrogant, spoiled young bastard, spoiled by many great roles on the stage. Ridiculous as it sounds, I still harbored the old-fashioned stage actor's snobbery about film," Plummer wrote in his 2008 memoir, In Spite. of my self.

"When we arrived in Austria to shoot, I was determined to present myself as a victim of circumstance: that I was making the film under duress, that it was forced upon me, and that I certainly deserved better. My behavior was unscrupulous."

The film was nominated for 10 Oscars and won five: Best Picture, Director, Sound, Editing and Musical Adaptation. However, Andrews, who was nominated for Lead Actress, credited Plummer for dispelling the "slightly cloying quality" of the play with her portrayal of Von Trapp.

But Plummer was reluctant to talk about the film and generally disparaged it when he did.


He and Andrews have maintained close ties over the years. Plummer worked with Andrews' husband, director Blake Edwards, on The Pink Panther Returns, starring Peter Sellers, in 1975, then reunited and broke up with Andrews in 2001 for CBS's On Golden Pond, romantically pairing sweet performances of his petty past.

After The Sound of Music, Plummer starred in 1969's The Battle of Britain, played an Inca king in 1969's The Royal Hunt for the Sun, and had a brief but memorable role in 1975's The Man Who Would Be King. his performances have been compared to that of the great movie star Laurence Olivier.

At the end of the decade, his marriage to the British journalist Patricia Lewis broke down and he married Taylor, a dancer.

In 1976, he co-starred with Kirk Douglas and Timothy Bottoms in the Emmy-nominated NBC miniseries The Moneychangers. Her role earned her her first Emmy Award. (Years later, she won the 1994 Voiceover Emmy for storytelling on the animated series Madeline.) boring bank. assistant.

In the 1990s, Plummer took on a fantastically entertaining role as the Klingon General Chang on "Star Trek VI," starring as Dr. Leland Goines in Gilliam's cutting-edge thriller 12 Monkeys, and played terrorist industrialist Alexander Addington in three seasons of Counterstrike. He also played the sensitive Dr. Rosen in Ron Howard's Oscar-winning A Beautiful Mind, Aristotle in Oliver Stone's drama Alexander, and John Adams Gates in the comedy adventure National Treasure.

Christopher Plummer, 'Music Heart' star and popular Oscar winner, dies at 91 (5)

Christopher Plummer took the stage as King Lear in 2002.

(V. Tony Hauser / Festival de Shakespeare de Stratford)

Back on stage, Plummer continued his feat as actor John Barrymore in the 1998 William Luce biopic. Barrymore's widow came twice to see the play, saying she "closed her eyes and listened to it."

"That was the best thing that was said," Plummer recalled in an interview with the Times.

He won a Tony Award in 1997 and toured the country playing the troubled star before reprising the role in a 2012 film adaptation. His second Tony Award was for his performance in the 1973 musical Cyrano, opposite Glenda Jackson in Macbeth and with partner Jason Robards in a revival of Harold Pinter's No Man's Land.

"I've always had an aversion to acting, but Barrymore was such a rich character that he transcended acting," Plummer told The Times in 1998 when the production took place in Los Angeles. “He got to the top and his last big role was himself, he never maintained that level of discipline or strength and technique to move on to other roles. Then towards the end of his life he created his own Falstaff, a very wealthy and enigmatic character”.


Review: Brilliant and compelling, Knives Out is a good crime moment

Ana de Armas, Daniel Craig and Christopher Plummer lead an all-star cast in this hilarious detective story from Rian Johnson.

The grueling role required singing, dancing, playing, joking, and tormenting on stage.

"Chris understands enough of life's frustrations that he remembers both the drinking problems and the joys," said producer Robert Whitehead, who knew Plummer for more than 40 years before working with him on Barrymore. "He has a poetic quality deep in his heart and soul, and he has enough tenacity and nostalgia to fill the character of John Barrymore."

In 2007, Plummer received the Method Fest Independent Film Festival's Lifetime Achievement Award for his "outstanding contribution" to film over a half-century career. At the time, Plummer was co-starring with Brian Dennehy in the Broadway revival of "Inherit the Wind," Scopes's classic 1920s ape trial fiction.

He worked with Gilliam again on the fantastic The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus."

"He's absolutely wonderful," Gilliam said of the lead actor in a 2009 interview with The Times. “He brings such dignity and brilliance to everything he does. Watching him at work is just a treat. I sit in a seat on the set and then he comes out and does the scene."

Christopher Plummer, 'Music Heart' star and popular Oscar winner, dies at 91 (7)

James Mason, left, and Frank Finlay with Christopher Plummer, right, as Sherlock Holmes in Murder by Decree, 1979.

(Los Angeles Times)

2008 saw the release of Plummer's meager autobiography, In Spite of Myself. The following year, he was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Tolstoy in The Last Station. He later took on the voice of madcap explorer Charles Muntz in Up, starred in David Fincher's thriller The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and won an Academy Award for his work in Mike Mills' 2010 comedy-drama Beginners Home.


Christopher Plummer jumps on "All the Money," finding it "fun and risky," but not without a doubt

Three months ago, there was no talk of Christopher Plummer as a possible Oscar nominee.

Upon retiring, Plummer joked that he saw no point in quitting acting.

"I love it and I'm not good at anything else," he "Conan" me 2015. "I never want to retire. I feel sorry for people who really want to retire; it means they didn't love what they were doing in life.

Plummer is survived by his wife and daughter.

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