‘The Sound of Music’ star Christopher Plummer dead at 91

Actor Christopher Plummer has died aged 91, the Oscar winner is best known for his role as Captain von Trapp in the 1965 film The Sound of Music.

The actor has a career resurgence in his latter years winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a man who comes out a gay in seventies in the 2010 film Beginners. Plummer was 82 when he won the award in 2011, making him the oldest ever Oscar recipient.

Julie Andrews who starred along Plummer in The Sound of Music paid tribute to her co-star describing his as a life-long friend.

“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 humour and fun we shared through the years.”

Russell Crowe, who appeared with Plummer in A Beautiful Mind and The Insider paid tribute describing his as a “fine actor” and a “good man”. While Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praise him as one of the country’s most iconic and beloved actors.

Kathy Bates, who appeared with Plummer in Dolores Claiborne said he was; “A true craftsman. One of the greats. A lovely human being.

The actor  passed away peacefully at his Connecticut home with his wife actor Elaine Taylor at his side. The couple were married for over 50 years, Plummer had credited his third wife for bringing stability to his life and ending his days of drinking and affairs.

He is survived by his wife and daughter Amanda Plummer, who is also a respected and award winning actor. Plummer’s first marriage was to Amanda’s mother, actor and singer Tammy Grimes they couple wed in 1956 and divorced in 1960. His second marriage was to journalist Patricia Lewis from 1962 to 1967.

Born in Ontario, Canada, he took up acting in high school after being inspired by Laurence Olivier’s film Henry V. He caught the eye of a local theatre critic after performing in a school production of Pride and Prejudice  and was subsequently cast in the next production by a local repertory company.

Plummer got a big break when Edward Everett Horton, famed for his role in 1930’s musicals and comedies, hired him in 1953 for a touring production of of André Roussin’s Nina. The same year her made his Canadian and American television debuts, and landed his first role on Broadway.

His Broadway debut however was not a success, the play The Starcross Story, closed on opening night. HIs theatre career soon took off though and he starred in a wide range of productions. He received his first Tony nomination for his role in Elia Kazan’s production of Archibald MacLeish’s Pulitzer prize winning play J.B.. 

Making the leap to films Plummer was cast in Sydney Lumet’s 1958 production Star Struck. Soon he was appearing as a leading man in films and television, particularly in Shakespearean roles and serious dramas.

Plummer reflected on his decision to take the role of Captain Georg von Trapp in The Sound of Music saying he really wanted to know what it was it was like to be in a musical.  Despite never having sung previously, he took on the role which required his to croon the patriotic ballad Edelweiss. It would become the defining role of his career, and the film would break boss office records beating Gone With the Wind, as the highest grossing film of all time.

The actor for many decades was not fond of the role, describing the character as a boring cardboard cut-out. In his 2008 autobiography In Spite of Myself he refers to the film using the acronym S&M. In recent years though he praised the film as a great family movie, and participated in reunions with cast members.

Throughout the 70’s and 80’s Plummer worked continuously in film, television and theatre. He appeared in the mini-series The Thorn Birds, and donned prosthetics and makeup to morph into a Klingon warlord for 1991’s Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country.

In the 1990’s Plummer became an in-demand actor working with some of the biggest directors in the business. He appeared in in Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, Mike Nichols’ Wolf, Taylor Hackford’s Dolores Claiborne, and Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys. 

Plummer was offered the part of Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but turned down the part, not wanting to spend several years shooting the trilogy in New Zealand. He later said he regretted the decision.

Some of Plummer’s biggest roles came at in his final years. Alongside his Oscar winning performance in Beginners opposite Ewan McGregor, he appeared in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Insider, Syriana and the Pixar animation Up. 

In 2017 he appeared as Jean Paul Getty in All The Money in the World, replacing disgraced actor Kevin Spacey. Spacey had already ready filmed the role when he was engulfed in accusation of sexually inappropriate behaviour. Director Ridley Scott brought Plummer in and re-filmed all the scenes Spacey appeared in.

The actor worked continuously up until 2019 when he appeared in the ensemble comedy Knives Out. His final on-screen appearance was in the war drama The Last Full Measure.  Prior to his death he recorded a voice part for the upcoming feature animation Heroes of the Golden Masks.          

OIP Staff

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