Christopher Plummer, the legendary actor known for “The Sound of Music” and countless other iconic roles including “Knives Out,” “A Beautiful Mind” and his Oscar-winning “Beginners,” has died. He was 91.
Plummer died early Friday at his home in Connecticut. His wife of 53 years, Elaine Taylor, said the cause was a blow to the head after a fall, according to The New York Times.
“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,” longtime friend and manager Lou Pitt said. “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 was a three-time Oscar nominee, first for 2009’s “The Last Station,” then again for Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World” in 2017, and he won his Oscar for Mike Mills’ “Beginners” from 2010. By winning the Oscar, he became the oldest actor to ever win a competitive Oscar in the category at age 82, surpassing Jessica Tandy for the record. In the film he played a man who reveals to his son played by Ewan McGregor that he both has terminal cancer and that he has taken a male lover in his old age.
Plummer would log over 200 credits in a career that dates to the 1950s. He made his Broadway debut in 1954 and started his career on television, with some of his early roles including a TV movie version of “The Philadelphia Story” and “Cyrano de Bergerac,” a role he would revive on stage in the ’70s.
But his most famous role remains in “The Sound of Music” from 1965 as Captain von Trapp. The film became a massive box office success and a Best Picture winner, though he had for years referred to his role as “awful and sentimental and gooey,” though he did promote the film in an anniversary special for Oprah Winfrey in 2010.
A thespian through and through, Plummer portrayed numerous Shakespearean title characters on stage and on screen, including memorable turns as King Lear, Macbeth and as Iago in “Othello.” He won two Tonys in his career, including for “Cyrano” in 1974 and “Barrymore” in 1997.
Plummer had also won two Emmys, but he fell short of the EGOT, though he was nominated for a Grammy in 1986 for a Best Recording for Children. Kids especially will know him as the narrator of the animated series “Madeline,” which aired in the early ’90s.
Christopher Plummer flashed equal parts menace and charm across memorable on-screen roles, many of which came back loaded in his already enormous career. Some of his more notable credits include “Malcolm X,” “12 Monkeys,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “National Treasure,” “The New World,” “Inside Man,” as a voice in Pixar’s “Up” and in many more. He was widely critically acclaimed for playing journalist Mike Wallace in Michael Mann’s “The Insider,” but he failed to get nominated for an Oscar after earning other critics’ prizes.
Plummer’s last Oscar nomination came for “All the Money In the World,” in which he famously replaced Kevin Spacey in the part as the wealthy J. Paul Getty after Spacey was accused of sexual misconduct at the height of the #MeToo movement. Plummer stepped in at the last minute after a trailer with Spacey had already been cut and the film completed, and the filmmakers moved quickly to recast, reshoot and digitally sub-in Plummer throughout all of Spacey’s scenes.
Plummer’s most recent film role was in the Vietnam War drama “The Last Full Measure,” in which he shared the screen with another iconic actor in his final role, Peter Fonda.
Christopher Plummer also published a memoir titled “In Spite of Myself” in 2008.