NEW YORK (AP) — Christopher Plummer, the dashing award-winning actor who played Captain von Trapp in the film “The Sound of Music” and at 82 became the oldest Academy Award acting winner in history, has died. He was 91.
Plummer died Friday morning at his home in Connecticut with his wife, Elaine Taylor, by his side, said Lou Pitt, his longtime friend and manager.
Over more than 50 years in the industry, Plummer enjoyed varied roles ranging from the film “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” to the voice of the villain in 2009′s “Up” and as a canny lawyer in Broadway’s “Inherit the Wind.”
In 2019 he starred as murdered mystery novelist in Rian Johnson’s whodunnit “Knives Out” and in the TV suspense drama series “Departure.”
But it was opposite Julie Andrews as von Trapp in 1965 that made him a star. He played an Austrian captain who must flee the country with his folk-singing family to escape service in the Nazi navy, a role he lamented was “humorless and one-dimensional.” Plummer spent the rest of his life referring to the film as “The Sound of Mucus” or “S&M.”
“We tried so hard to put humor into it,” he told The Associated Press in 2007. “It was almost impossible. It was just agony to try to make that guy not a cardboard figure.”
A GIF of the captain ripping a Nazi flag became a popular meme in recent years, and gave Plummer a new dose of fame.
“The world has lost a consummate actor today and I have lost a cherished friend. I treasure the memories of our work together and all the humor and fun we shared through the years,” Andrews said in a statement.
The role catapulted Plummer to stardom, but he never took to leading men parts, despite his silver hair, good looks and ever-so-slight English accent.
He preferred character parts, considering them more meaty. His memoir in 2012 was titled “In Spite of Myself.”
Plummer had a remarkable film renaissance late in life, which began with his acclaimed performance as Mike Wallace in Michael Mann’s 1999 film “The Insider,” continued in films such as 2001’s “A Beautiful Mind” and 2009′s “The Last Station,” in which he played a deteriorating Tolstoy and was nominated for an Oscar.
“He was a mighty force both as Man and Actor,” Helen Mirren, his co-star in “The Last Station,” said in a statement Friday. “He was fearless, energetic, courageous, knowledgeable, professional and a monument to what an actor can be.”
In 2012, Plummer won a supporting actor Oscar for his role in “Beginners” as Hal Fields, a museum director who becomes openly gay after his wife of 44 years dies. His loving, final relationship becomes an inspiration for his son, who struggles with his father’s death and how to find intimacy in a new relationship.
“Too many people in the world are unhappy with their lot. And then they retire and they become vegetables. I think retirement in any profession is death, so I’m determined to keep crackin’,” he told AP in 2011.