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Charles Durning, Oscar-nominated character actor and WWII vet, dead

Charles Durning, who died at 89 years old, had a 50-year career playing roles ranging from the pope to a Nazi colonel.
Charles durning deadEnlarge
US World War II Veteran veteran and actor Charles E. Durning poses after being awarded the National Order of the Legion of Honor by French Consul Philippe Larrieu on April 22, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California. The award is the highest honor that France bestows on its citizens and foreign nationals. In recognition of the 60th anniversary of the landing of the Allied forces at Normandy, France on June 6, 1944, approximately 100 Legion of Honor medals are awarded every year to US World War II veterans with very distinguished records in France. (Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images)

Charles Durning, a prolific character actor who earned two Oscar nods, has died at age 89.

He passed away of natural causes at his home in Manhattan. 

The actor was among the first American soldiers to land at Normandy during World War II's D-Day invasion, and was captured in the Battle of the Bulge, where he survived a prisoner massacre, the Los Angeles Times reported.

He was awarded the Silver Star and three Purple Hearts for his service. 

Durning's subsequent acting career spanned 50 years and a dizzying array of roles. His turn as the corrupt governor in “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” earned him his first Oscar nomination in 1982, followed swiftly by another nom for Mel Brooks' “To Be or Not to Be," in which he portrayed a Nazi officer, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

The character actor also played crooked cop in 1973's “The Sting”; an assistant football coach in “North Dallas Forty” (1979); and a hypocritical power broker in “True Confessions” alongside Robert de Niro, the New York Times reported

He also played Big Daddy in the 1990 Broadway revival of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," UPI reported.

The actor reportedly said in 2008 of his career that “they're going to carry me out, if I go," the L.A. Times reported. 

"Like most of us, the character actor seldom if ever gets the girl or saves the world," the Associated Press wrote in its tribute to Durning and his fellow character actor Jack Klugman, who died Monday at age 90 in Los Angeles. "They aren't flashy. But with their own special magnetism, they remind us, in role after role, that everyday people are special, too." 

Twice married, Durning leaves behind his three children, Michele, Douglas, and Jeanine, Hollywood.com reported

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