After 75 Years of Acting, Hollywood Legend Christopher Plummer Dies at 91
By Movieguide® Staff
Actor Christopher Plummer, known for timeless roles such as THE SOUND OF MUSIC, died peacefully in his Connecticut home on Feb. 5, 2021, at 91.
Elaine Taylor, his wife of 53 years, was by his side. Plummer’s longtime friend and manager of 46 years, Lou Pitt, released a statement.
“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,” Pitt said.
Plummer’s career in acting spanned seven decades, but 1965’s THE SOUND OF MUSIC solidified his journey to stardom. Although Plummer is almost synonymous with the beloved classic, adapted from the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage musical about the real-life songful Von Trapp family, Plummer previously revealed his hesitancy in accepting the role after learning his songs would be dubbed.
“I’d worked on my singing for so long, but in those days, they’d have someone trained who would sing through dubbing. I said: ‘The only reason I did this thing was so I could do a musical on stage on film!’” Plummer told The Guardian in 2018.
However, Plummer shared that his distaste for the movie has dampened over time.
“I’ve made my peace with it,” Plummer added. “I thought: ‘Don’t these people ever see another movie? Is this the only one they’ve ever seen?’ … But I’m grateful to the film, and to Robert Wise, who’s a great director and a gentleman, and to Julie [Andrews], who’s remained a terrific friend.”
Plummer’s credits didn’t stop at the classic movie, though.
Raised in Montreal, Plummer began his professional career on stage and radio in both French and English. After Eva Le Gallienne gave him his New York debut (1954), he went on to star in many celebrated productions on Broadway and London’s West End, winning accolades on both sides of the Atlantic.
He won two Tony Awards for the musical Cyrano and for Barrymore plus seven Tony nominations, his latest for his King Lear (2004) and for his Clarence Darrow in Inherit the Wind (2007); also three Drama Desk Awards and the National Arts Club Medal. A former leading member of the Royal National Theatre under Sir Laurence Olivier and the Royal Shakespeare Company under Sir Peter Hall, where he won London’s Evening Standard Award for Best Actor in Becket; he has also led Canada’s Stratford Festival in its formative years under Sir Tyrone Guthrie and Michael Langham.
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 in the Canadian series, Departures.
Apart from honors in the UK, USA, Austria and Canada, he was the first performer to receive the Jason Robards Award in memory of his great friend, the Edwin Booth Award and the Sir John Gielgud Quill Award. In 1968, sanctioned by Elizabeth II, he was invested as a Companion of the Order of Canada — an honorary knighthood. An Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts at Juilliard, he also received the Governor General’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. In 1986, he was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame and in 2000 Canada’s Walk of Fame.
At the 1999 Movieguide® Awards Gala, THE INSIDER won the “Papa Bear” Award for one of the top ten moves for mature audiences that year.
Jim Muro, a camera operator on THE INSIDER, said of the honor: “That brings to light what Ted was saying in his opening comments that there are some films represented here this evening that don’t know what their role is in the Christian community, and I believe this to be one of the films that he was referring to because, frankly, it is a film that shares with people how serious the effect of a corporation is on a family as well as the rigors of tobacco use and nicotine addiction.”
Plummer also narrated THE VISUAL BIBLE: THE GOSPEL OF JOHN. THE GOSPEL OF JOHN is a word-for-word presentation of the New Testament book, and won the coveted $25,000 John Templeton Foundation Epiphany Prize® for Most Inspiring Movie of 2003.