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Christopher Plummer, Sound of Music Oscar-Winning Actor, Dies at 91
He took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 2012 for his role in Beginners
Christopher Plummer, whose career in film, on television, and in the theater spanned more than half a century and earned him an Academy Award, two Emmys, and two Tonys, has died at age 91.
Plummer died Friday morning at his home in Connecticut. "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," Lou Pitt, his longtime friend and manager of 46 years, said in a statement obtained by EW. "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."
For years, Plummer chafed against being typecast for his most famous role as Captain Von Trapp in the hit 1965 musical film The Sound of Music, which propelled him to worldwide stardom. But he continued to do varied work and late in his career scored Oscar nominations for the 2009 film The Last Station and the 2011 film Beginners, for which he became, at age 82, the oldest actor ever to win an Academy Award. Accepting the Oscar, Plummer quipped to the statuette, "You're only two years older than me, darling? Where have you been all my life?"
Born in Toronto on Dec. 13, 1929, Plummer was inspired to take up acting after seeing Laurence Olivier's 1944 film Henry V, which kindled a passion for Shakespeare that would remain with him for the rest of his life. He made his debut on Broadway in 1953 and earned his first Tony Award nomination in 1959 for the drama J.B., but his career truly exploded when he starred opposite Julie Andrews as an strict Austrian widower with a large brood of children in the phenomenal smash The Sound of Music. It became one of the highest-grossing movies of all time, but Plummer always harbored deeply mixed feelings about his signature role. "In pictures, I was being typed as a rather uptight romantic leading man, when I wanted to do so many more interesting things — and was capable of doing them," he told EW in 2005. "Instead I was getting these rather stiff-necked a--holes to play. But I was making money. And I was able to do theater."
Indeed, Plummer would go on to work in a wide variety of projects in every medium, including the films Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, The Insider, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. He was rewarded for his talent and perseverance when he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 2012 for portraying a father who comes out as gay to his son late in life in the romantic comedy-drama Beginners. For Plummer, there was no such thing as retirement. "I guess one day, when you run out of parts, there's always Methuselah," he joked to EW in 2005. "And maybe God. And then that's about it."
Plummer received his third Oscar nomination for 2017's All the Money in the World, in which he played J. Paul Getty. Director Ridley Scott brought him in as a replacement for Kevin Spacey after the actor was accused of multiple instances of sexual misconduct. "You have to know who you're going to go for [to recast the role] and if he's available," Scott told EW in his first interview on the matter. "Chris [Plummer] was always on the list. So you find that out, but quietly, because you don't want it going around. I flew into New York and met with [Plummer] and he said yes. So then we had to figure out if everyone else would be available to fit in these new days of shooting. Miraculously, they were."
Plummer also featured in the 2019 star-studded whodunnit Knives Out, and war film The Last Full Measure, which was released in January 2020.
Plummer is survived by wife Elaine Taylor and a daughter, actress Amanda Plummer.