The Humanity of Charles Durning

25 Dec

I’m grieved to hear that Charles Durning and Jack Klugman both died yesterday.  In reading Durning’s obituary in the New York Times you see the large scope of this actor’s work from the father who fell for Dustin Hoffman masquerading as a woman in “Tootsie” to the plantation owner in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”

Turns out Durning was a soldier in World War II and took part in the first wave at Omaha Beach on D-Day and won several medals.  The Times talked about a Parade magazine article where “he recalled the hand-to-hand combat. ‘I was crossing a field somewhere in Belgium,’ he said. ‘A German soldier ran toward me carrying a bayonet. He couldn’t have been more than 14 or 15. I didn’t see a soldier. I saw a boy. Even though he was coming at me, I couldn’t shoot.’

They grappled, he recounted later — he was stabbed seven or eight times — until finally he grasped a rock and made it a weapon. After killing the youth, he said, he held him in his arms and wept.’ ”

This was a man, not some blood dripping cartoon of a soldier by Tarantino.

Klugman made us laugh in “The Odd Couple”.  His version of a New York ’70’s “Christmas Carol” (with Tony Randall)  is a classic.  It’s up on you tube and you can see the first section here.


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