Screen legend Christopher Plummer, who captured the imagination of millions across the world as he played Captain von Trapp opposite Julie Andrews in the blockbuster 1965 musical ‘The Sound Of Music’, died on Friday at the age of 91.
According to reports, Plummer passed away peacefully at his home in Connecticut with his wife Elaine Taylor at his side.
“The world has lost a consummate actor today and I have lost a cherished friend,” Andrews said in a statement. “I treasure the memories of our work together and all the humor and fun we shared through the years.”
“Chris was an extraordinary man who deeply loved and respected his profession with great old fashion manners, self deprecating humor and the music of words,” manager Lou Pitt said in a statement.
In 2012, Plummer became the oldest actor to win an Oscar for his role in ‘Beginners’. He won in the Best Supporting Actor category that year. In the film, he played as an elderly man who comes out of the closet as gay.
“You`re only two years older than me, darling,” Plummer, who was born in 1929, purred to his golden statuette at the 2012 Oscars ceremony. “Where have you been all my life?”
One of his last major roles was as in the dark comedy ‘Knives Out’ in 2019.
“This is truly heartbreaking,” ‘Knives Out’ co-star Chris Evans said on Twitter. “What an unbelievable loss. Few careers have such longevity and impact. One of my favorite memories from Knives Out was playing piano together in the Thrombey house between set-ups. He was a lovely man and a legendary talent.”
Plummer appeared in more than 100 films and also was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Russian author Leo Tolstoy in 2009`s ‘The Last Station.’ He won two Tony Awards for his Broadway work, two Emmy Awards for TV work and performed for some of the world`s top theater companies.
But for many fans, his career was defined by his performance as an stern widower in ‘The Sound Of Music’ – a role he called “a cardboard figure, humorless and one-dimensional.” In his 2008 autobiography ‘In Spite Of Myself,’ Plummer refers to the movie with the mischievous acronym “S&M.”
It took him four decades to change his view of the film and embrace it as a “terrific movie” that made him proud.
Director Robert Wise`s sentimental film follows the singing von Trapp family and their 1938 escape from the Nazis after Plummer`s “captain with seven children” falls in love with the aspiring nun played by Andrews. The movie won the Academy Award as best picture of 1965 and is considered a cult classic till date.
“Originally I had accepted Robert Wise`s offer simply because I wanted to find out what it was like to be in a musical comedy,” Plummer wrote in his book. “I had a secret plan to one day turn `Cyrano de Bergerac` into a Broadway musical. `S&M` would therefore be a perfect workout in preparation for such an event.”
He said he had never sung before – “not even in the shower” – before taking a role that included crooning the song ‘Edelweiss.’ He blamed his own “vulgar streak” for the desire to star in a big, splashy Hollywood extravaganza.
“And yes, all right, I`ll admit it, I was also a pampered, arrogant, young bastard, spoiled by too many great theater roles,” he wrote. “Ludicrous though it may seem, I still harbored the old-fashioned stage actor`s snobbism toward moviemaking.”
Plummer`s late-career renaissance began with director Michael Mann`s ‘The Insider’ (1999) in which he portrayed CBS News interviewer Mike Wallace, acting alongside Al Pacino and Russell Crowe.
That was followed by triumphs in director Ron Howard`s Academy Award best picture winner ‘A Beautiful Mind’ (2001), director Spike Lee`s ‘Inside Man’ (2006), ‘Up’ and ‘The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus’ (both 2009) and ‘Barrymore’ and ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ (both 2011).
In 2017, Plummer replaced Kevin Spacey as oil billionaire J Paul Getty in ‘All the Money in the World.’ The film had been completed when Spacey was accused of sexual misconduct. Plummer re-shot all of Spacey`s scenes and received an Oscar nomination for the role.
Plummer was born in Toronto on Dec. 13, 1929, into a privileged railroad family. He was the great-grandson of Sir John Abbott, the third prime minister of Canada.
Plummer confessed to a boozy lifestyle with plenty of affairs through the 1960s. He said his third wife, British actress Elaine Taylor, forced him after their 1970 marriage to stop the carousing that consumed some of his peers and friends, such as Richard Burton and Peter O`Toole.
Plummer`s early films included 1965`s ‘Inside Daisy Clover’ with Natalie Wood and Robert Redford, released the same year as ‘The Sound Of Music,’ ‘The Fall of the Roman Empire’ (1964) with Sophia Loren and Alec Guinness, and ‘Triple Cross’ (1966).
He also played an eye-patch-wearing Klingon in ‘Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country’ (1991) and as an urbane jewel thief in ‘The Return of the Pink Panther’ (1975).
His TV roles included the 1983 miniseries ‘The Thorn Birds.’
Plummer was the father of Tony Award-winning actress Amanda Plummer.
(With inputs from Reuters)
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