‘Sound of Music’ & Stage Legend Christopher Plummer Dies @ 91

Via ExtraTV: Christopher Plummer, the stage legend best known for his performance in the all-time movie classic The Sound of Music, died Friday at the age of 91.

A timeless image (GIF via GIPHY)

Deadline reports the beloved actor died at his Weston, Connecticut, home. He was with his wife of 53 years, Elaine Taylor, who later confirmed he had died as the result of a fall.

Plummer's longtime manager said in a statement:

“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. 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. He will forever be with us.”

Plummer's extraordinary 75-year career — like the careers of Cicely Tyson and Cloris Leachman, other stars who recently took their final bows — never seemed to peak. In 2012, he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance as a man coming out as gay (very) late in life in the film Beginners. At 82, Plummer was the oldest winner of an acting Oscar.

"You're only two years older than me, darling — where have you been all my life?" he said to his statuette upon receiving it.

When he was nominated again for his supporting performance in All the Money in the World, he — at 88 — became the oldest person ever nominated for an acting Oscar. Host Jimmy Kimmel jokingly asked Plummer, "How does Lin-Manuel Miranda compare to the real Alexander Hamilton?"

In 2019, he starred on the Canadian-British TV series Departure and in the features The Last Full Measure and Knives Out, the latter of which was a box-office smash. His final work appears to be voicing a character in the upcoming animated film Heroes of the Golden Masks.

In spite of his many other successes, Plummer will forever be associated with The Sound of Music, the 1965 movie adaptation of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical about the romance between a governess (Julie Andrews) and the man (Plummer) whose children she is looking after, set on the eve of World War II. At the time of its release, it was the highest-grossing film ever made.

Over the years, Plummer disdainfully referred to the movie as The Sound of Mucus, but by the time he was helping to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its release in 2015 had mellowed, saying, “This is sort of a fairy story brought to life. And in a world that is so horrific — we know what’s going on now, it's inconceivable — it’s the last bastion of innocence in a very cynical time.”

He had long been taken aback by the film's success, telling TCM, "We didn't even dream it was going to be — nobody did — it was going to be successful while we were making it. We had no clue."

Coming out — and winning the Oscar — late in Beginners (Image via Focus Features)

Plummer was born December 13 in Toronto. Inspired by Laurence Olivier in the 1944 film Henry V, he began acting in school, including studying at the Montréal Repertory Theatre. He had his first professional job in Jean Cocteau's "La Machine infernale" at 18.

In 1953, Plummer arrived — he made his CBC TV debut in a production of Othello, his American TV debut on an episode of Studio One, and his Broadway debut in the The Starcross Story. Though the later was a one-performance flop, he followed it with more successful shows, including the hit The Lark (1955), and was busy onstage throughout the following decades, establishing his credentials as a serious actor, and working in everything from Romeo and Juliet (1960) to Cyrano de Bergerac (1962) to Macbeth (1962) to Antony and Cleopatra (1967).

He won the Tony for 1973's Cyrano and again playing master thespian John Barrymore in 1997's Barrymore, and was nominated for J.B. (1959), Othello (1982), No Man's Land (1994), King Lear (2004), and Inherit the Wind (2007).

Plummer was Emmy-nominated in 1958 for Little Moon of Alban, and made his film debut that same year in the Henry Fonda movie Stage Struck.

Other films Plummer appeared in include Inside Daisy Clover (1965), The Return of the Pink Panther (1975), The Man Who Would Be King (1975), Somewhere in Time (1980), Eyewitness (1981), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), Malcolm X (1992), Dolores Claiborne (1995), 12 Monkeys (1995), The Insider (1999), A Beautiful Mind (2001), National Treasure (2004), Syriana (2005), Inside Man (2006), The Last Station (2009), and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011).

His voice work includes bringing to life Henri the pigeon in An American Tail (1986) and Charles Muntz in Up (2009).

Among his many TV performances, Plummer was awarded an Emmy for his work in the miniseries The Moneychangers (1976) and was especially acclaimed for his work with old friend Julie Andrews in a production of On Golden Pond (2001) and in Our Fathers (2005).

Plummer was married three times. His marriages to actress Tammy Grimes and journalist Patricia Lewis ended in divorce.

He is survived by his wife, and by his daughter with Grimes, actress Amanda Plummer.

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