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Charles Durning, R.I.P.

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The actor Charles Durning is dead at 89. He could do just about anything, including song and dance.

Charles Edward Durning was born into poverty on Feb. 28, 1923, in Highland Falls, N.Y., a Hudson River village. His father, James, an Irish immigrant, had been sickened by mustard gas and lost a leg in World War I and died when Charles was 16. Charles was the ninth of 10 children, and five of his sisters died of smallpox or scarlet fever in childhood, three of them within two weeks.....

....Fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, he and the rest of his company were captured and forced to march through a pine forest at Malmedy, the scene of an infamous massacre in which the Germans opened fire on almost 90 prisoners. Mr. Durning was among the few to escape.

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I saw a clip of his work in Tootsie recently, and was reminded of how good he was -- between him and Jack Klugman, it's not been a good month for character actors.

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