Christopher Plummer, who graced the stage, movie theaters and television screens for six decades, died at 91.
Plummer died at his home in Connecticut, with wife Elaine Taylor by his side, ICM Partners talent agency spokesperson Kate Cafaro told USA TODAY.
Lou Pitt, Plummer’s longtime friend and manager of 46 years said, “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 will perhaps be best remembered by audiences for his role of Capt. Von Trapp in the 1965 musical “The Sound of Music.” The film was maligned by critics upon its release, but reception changed over the years. It is now considered a classic. For his part, Plummer regretted the role and its staying power in pop culture, but in later years, softened on his brush with being a leading man.
Plummer made headlines in 2017 for replacing Kevin Spacey as J. Paul Getty in Ridley Scott’s already shot “All the Money In the World” after Spacey was accused of sexual assault. Scenes from the film were reshot with Plummer in the role only a month before it was released. The film would net Plummer his third Academy Award nomination.
On playing the film’s antagonist, Plummer told USA TODAY, “If you’re going to play a villain, it’s much more interesting to find all the nice qualities of the person. Or even give him some, as a gift.”
With a long and storied career, Plummer once had the distinction of being the oldest recipient of an Academy Award (James Ivory became the oldest recipient in 2018), for which he won in 2012 at the age of 82 for his portrayal of an elderly man who comes out as gay after his wife dies in “Beginners.” Upon winning, he joked, “You’re only two years older than me darling, where have you been all of my life? (At birth) I was already rehearsing my academy acceptance speech, but it was so long ago mercifully for you I’ve forgotten it.”
In addition to his film work, Plummer felt most at home when he was onstage. A celebrated Shakespearean thespian, Plummer gained recognition for his roles of Hamlet, Iago and Lear. Out of six nominations, Plummer took home two Tony Awards, the first in 1974 as best actor in a musical for the title role in “Cyrano” and the second in 1997 as best actor in a play for “Barrymore.”
In film and television, Plummer focused more on being a character actor than a star. He portrayed the famed detective Sherlock Holmes in “Murder by Decree,” a psychotic thief in “The Silent Partner,” Russian writer Leo Tolstoy in “The Last Station” and empathetic Dr. Rosen in “A Beautiful Mind.” Plummer also lent his voice to explorer Charles F. Muntz in Pixar’s “Up.”
He will also be remembered for his generosity, aiding an up-and-coming Donald Sutherland in starting his career. After starring in “The Dirty Dozen,” Sutherland wanted to move to Hollywood to land more roles but didn’t have the money, so he called Plummer.
“I said I couldn’t call,” Sutherland told USA TODAY in 2018, but eventually he did. “I think I woke him up. I said, ‘Chris, it’s Donald Sutherland. I have a chance of having a career if I can get to California, but I don’t have any money.’ He said, ‘Do you have a pencil? Write down this name and phone number. Call him in the morning and there will be $1,500 for you.’ ”
Born Dec. 13, 1929, in Toronto, Plummer was the only child of John Orme Plummer and Isabella Mary Abbott. His great grandfather was John Abbott, the third prime minister of Canada.
Married three times, Plummer is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, Elaine, and his only daughter, actress Amanda Plummer, whom he had in a previous marriage to actress Tammy Grimes.
Contributing: Bill Keveney and Andrea Mandell