Charles Durning

Consummate character

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Charles Durning was always the bridesmaid. He played the crooked cop on the trail of leading men Paul Newman and Robert Redford in The Sting, the lonely widower who falls for cross-dressing star Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie, a police hostage negotiator up against Al Pacino's bank robber in Dog Day Afternoon and a comically corrupt governor opposite Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, a role that earned him the first of two Supporting Actor Oscar nominations. Although the instantly recognizable Durning, who was 89 when he died on Dec. 24, played supporting roles onscreen, in life he played the hero more than once, earning the Silver Star and three Purple Hearts in World War II.