Charles Durning: War Hero

cinematically insane

DurningCharles Durning was unforgettable as Jessica Lange’s rough-hewn father in Sydney Pollack’s TOOTSIE (1982), falling for Dustin Hoffman’s faux female leading lady in a performance both hilarious and heartfelt. He received Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nominations as the governor in Colin Higgins’ THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS (1982) and Col. Ehrhardt in Mel Brooks’ TO BE OR NOT TO BE (1983). And he was recognized with nine Emmy Award nominations for his work on television.

But Durning’s first role was his greatest: war hero.

Drafted in 1943 at the age of 20, the New York native survived the assault on Omaha Beach on D-Day, but was wounded in the thighs, hand, head and chest by a German S-mine on June 15, 1944, at Les Mare des Mares, France. He convalesced at a military hospital in England and recovered, only to be attacked a few months later by a bayonet-wielding German…

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