He is a World War II hero, a dancer, and an award-winning veteran actor. The life of Charles Durning has been one full of stories, and another one was added on Thursday, when the 85-year-old received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame — next to his own hero — James Cagney.
“Cagney was my favorite actor and favorite person” Durning said to the Associated Press while being inducted as the 2,366th star on the Walk of Fame. “I met him once and he was very kind to me. I never got a chance to tell him what I thought, that he was my hero.
“I never thought this would happen. This is one of the secret awards I wanted. I was hoping this would happen in my lifetime and it did.”
Durning’s film credits include Dog Day Afternoon, Tootsie, The Sting, and O Brother, Where Are Thou?
Born in Highland Falls, NY, Durning enlisted with his three brothers when he was 17. He was seriously hurt in battle as one of the first soldiers to land on Omama Beach during the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. During the Battle of the Bulge, Durning was taken prisoner, and was one of the few that lived the attack on American POWs in Malmedy, Belgium. He was honored with three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star.
Despite his legs hurt from German machine-gun fire, he went on to become a boxer, a ballroom dancer, and a respected character actor.
“I never turned down anything and never argued with any producer or director” Durning stated.
He earned nine Emmy nominations — including one for a 2004 guest star role on the hit CBS series NCIS as a retired naval officer, and recently another one for playing Denis Leary’s father on FX’s acclaimed Rescue Me. Durning also received two Oscar nominations for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982) and To Be or Not to Be (1983). He won a Golden Globe for the 1990 miniseries The Kennedys of Massachusetts, and a Tony the same year for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
The Screen Actors Guild honored the actor with a lifetime acheivement award in January, but Thursday’s ceremony was the highlight for both Durning and his family.
“He has a passion for acting” said stepdaughter Anita Gregory, who nominated Durning with Lee Purcell, one of several who’s who that was at the induction.
“To survive a war, that gives you enough determination that anything is possible. … He believes that life will go on forever.”
Source: Yahoo! News