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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - CONNECTICUT — Christopher Plummer, the elegantly voiced, Oscar-winning actor perhaps most fondly remembered for "The Sound of Music," died Friday at his home in Connecticut, his manager said in a statement. He was 91.
"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," his longtime friend and manager Lou Pitt said in his statement to CNN.
"He was a National Treasure who deeply relished his Canadian roots. Through his art and humanity, he touched all of our hearts and his legendary life will endure for all generations to come."
Plummer, the dashing award-winning actor who played Captain von Trapp in the film “The Sound of Music” and at 82 became the oldest Academy Award acting winner in history, died Friday morning at his home with his wife, Elaine Taylor, by his side, said Pitt, his longtime friend and manager.
Over more than 50 years in the industry, Plummer enjoyed varied roles ranging from the film, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” to the voice of the villain in 2009’s “Up” and as a canny lawyer in Broadway’s “Inherit the Wind”. In 2019 he starred as murdered mystery novelist in Rian Johnson’s whodunnit “Knives Out.”
But it was opposite Julie Andrews as von Trapp that made him a star. He played an Austrian captain who must flee the country with his folk-singing family to escape service in the Nazi navy, a role he lamented was “humourless and one-dimensional.” Plummer spent the rest of his life referring to the film as “The Sound of Mucus” or “S&M.”
“We tried so hard to put humour into it,” he told The Associated Press in 2007. “It was almost impossible. It was just agony to try to make that guy not a cardboard figure.”
The role catapulted Plummer to stardom, but he never took to leading men parts, despite his silver hair, good looks and ever-so-slight English accent. He preferred character parts, considering them more meaty.
In addition to co-starring as Captain Von Trapp in the 1965 musical opposite Julie Andrews, Plummer won a supporting actor Academy Award for his role in the 2010 film "Beginners," and was nominated again as recently as 2018 for "All the Money in the World," in which he replaced Kevin Spacey as billionaire J. Paul Getty, after the younger actor was engulfed by scandal.
Plummer also played Rudyard Kipling in the Michael Caine-Sean Connery classic "The Man Who Would Be King" and Sherlock Holmes — on the trail of Jack the Ripper — in the 1979 movie "Murder by Decree."
Born in Toronto, Plummer also had an accomplished stage career, winning Tony Awards for his work in "Cyrano" and "Barrymore" almost a quarter-century apart. Plummer's accolades included an Emmy for the 1976 miniseries "The Moneychangers." He also co-starred for several seasons in the series "Counterstrike."
A trained Shakespearean actor, Plummer began his Broadway career in the 1950s, appearing in a number of theatrical and screen productions before "The Sound of Music," in a later memoir admitting to mixed feelings about the film's success. Plummer and Andrews reunited in a 2001 CBS movie version of the film "On Golden Pond."
Tributes quickly came from Hollywood and Broadway. Joseph Gordon-Levitt called him “one of the greats” and George Takei posted “Rest in eternal music, Captain von Trapp.” Dave Foley, a fellow Canadian, wrote: “If I live to be 91 maybe I’ll have time to fully appreciate all the great work of Christopher Plummer.”
Plummer had a remarkable film renaissance late in life, which began with his acclaimed performance as Mike Wallace in Michael Mann’s 1999 film “The Insider,” continued in films such as 2001’s “A Beautiful Mind” and 2009’s “The Last Station,” in which he played a deteriorating Tolstoy and was nominated for an Oscar.
In 2012, Plummer won a supporting actor Oscar for his role in “Beginners” as Hal Fields, a museum director who becomes openly gay after his wife of 44 years dies. His loving, final relationship becomes an inspiration for his son, who struggles with his father’s death and how to find intimacy in a new relationship.
There were fallow periods in his career — a “Pink Panther” movie here, a “Dracula 2000” there and even a “Star Trek” — as a Klingon, no less. But Plummer had other reasons than the scripts in mind.
“For a long time, I accepted parts that took me to attractive places in the world. Rather than shooting in the Bronx, I would rather go to the south of France, crazed creature than I am,” he told AP in 2007. “And so I sacrificed a lot of my career for nicer hotels and more attractive beaches.”
Plummer was born Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer in Toronto. His maternal great-grandfather was former Canadian Prime Minister Sir John Abbott. His parents divorced shortly after his birth and he was raised by his mother and aunts.
He was given Canada’s highest civilian honor when he was invested as Companion of the Order of Canada by Queen Elizabeth II in 1968, and was inducted into the American Theatre’s Hall of Fame in 1986.
After two relatively short marriages, Plummer wed actor-dancer Elaine Taylor in 1970. He is also survived by his daughter from his first marriage, actor Amanda Plummer. — Agencies
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