Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Christopher Plummer, who starred in The Sound of Music, died peacefully today at his home in Connecticut, at age 91, his family confirmed. Elaine Taylor, his wife and true best friend for 53 years, was by his side.
Along with becoming the oldest person to win an Oscar, Plummer also won a pair of Emmys and two Tonys during a nearly 70-year career.
Plummer’s first film appearance was in 1958’s Stage Struck, however his biggest hit, and arguably best-known role, was as singing anti-Nazi Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music in 1965. More recently, in 2017, he stepped in to replace Kevin Spacey in All the Money in the World.
Born Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer on December 13, 1929 in Toronto, Canada, the great-grandson of John Abbott, Canada’s third prime minister. After leaving school he joined the Montreal Repertory Theatre, and after a short spell on Broadway achieved his first leading role as Hal in Henry V at the 1956 Stratford festival in Ontario.
More stage roles followed, in both Stratford and on Broadway, including his first Tony nomination in 1959 for best actor in Archibald MacLeish’s JB, which was directed by Elia Kazan. He also secured roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the UK, playing Benedick in the 1961 production of Much Ado About Nothing.
After 5 years on television, Plummer began his successful film career with Stage Struck. His range of notable films include The Man Who Would Be King, Battle of Britain, Waterloo, Fall of The Roman Empire, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country as Klingon general Chang, virologist Leland Goines in 12 Monkeys, and of course, the 1965 Oscar-winning The Sound of Music. More recent films include the acclaimed A Beautiful Mind, Man in the Chair, Must Love Dogs, National Treasure, Syriana, Inside Man, Spike Lee’s Malcolm X as a racist prison chaplain and the director’s The Inside Man, and The Insider as Mike Wallace, for which he won a National Film Critics Award.
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His stage work, as before, appeared to remain his first love, with another Tony award in 1997 for the title role in Barrymore, about the Shakespearean actor John Barrymore, and King Lear in 2002, directed by Jonathan Miller, which led to another Tony nomination after its transfer to Broadway in 2004.
He played the great novelist Tolstoy opposite Helen Mirren in The Last Station for Sony Classics, where he received his first Academy Award nomination in 2010. He followed that up the next year with another nomination and a win for Best Supporting Actor in Beginners from writer-director Mike Mills and appeared in David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo that same year.
All in all, at least a dozen of his roles came after his 75th birthday including the Rian Johnson whodunit Knives Out, and the fact-based drama, The Last Full Measure, starring William Hurt.
In 2017 he starred as J. Paul Getty, the billionaire who refuses to pay a ransom for his kidnapped grandson, in the Ridley Scott movie All the Money in the World, a role he stepped into at the last minute to replace Kevin Spacey, who had been accused of sexual misconduct. His formidable performance earned him an Oscar nomination.
His TV appearances, which number close to 100, include the Emmy-winning BBC Hamlet at Elsinore playing the title role, the Emmy-winning productions The Thornbirds, Nuremberg, Little Moon of Alban and HBO’s Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight earning him seven Emmy nominations and taking home two Emmys. He was last seen on television in the Canadian series, Departures.
He is survived by his daughter Amanda Plummer and wife Elaine Taylor.