By Will Dunham
Christopher Plummer, a patrician Canadian who starred as widower Captain von Trapp opposite Julie Andrews in the blockbuster 1965 musical “The Sound of Music” and in 2012 became the oldest actor to win an Oscar, has died at 91, his longtime friend and manager said on Friday.
“The world has lost a consummate actor today and I have lost a cherished friend,” Andrews said in a statement. “I treasure the memories of our work together and all the humor and fun we shared through the years.”
Plummer passed away peacefully at his home in Connecticut with his wife Elaine Taylor at his side.
“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,” manager Lou Pitt said in a statement.
Plummer, an accomplished Shakespearean actor honored for his varied stage, television and film work in a career that spanned more than six decades, was best known for his role in “The Sound of Music,” which at the time eclipsed “Gone With the Wind” (1939) as the top-earning movie ever.
Plummer flourished in a succession of meaty roles after age 70 – a time in life when most actors merely fade away. At age 82, he became the oldest actor to get a competitive Oscar when he won for his supporting role in “Beginners” as an elderly man who comes out of the closet as gay.
“You’re only two years older than me, darling,” Plummer, who was born in 1929, purred to his golden statuette at the 2012 Oscars ceremony. “Where have you been all my life?”
One of his last major roles was as in the dark comedy “Knives Out” in 2019.
“This is truly heartbreaking,” “Knives Out” co-star Chris Evans said on Twitter. “What an unbelievable loss. Few careers have such longevity and impact. One of my favorite memories from Knives Out was playing piano together in the Thrombey house between set-ups. He was a lovely man and a legendary talent.”
Plummer appeared in more than 100 films and also was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Russian author Leo Tolstoy in 2009’s “The Last Station.” He won two Tony Awards for his Broadway work, two Emmy Awards for TV work and performed for some of the world’s top theater companies.
But for many fans, his career was defined by his performance as a stern widower in “The Sound of Music” – a role he called “a cardboard figure, humorless and one-dimensional.” In his 2008 autobiography “In Spite of Myself,” Plummer refers to the movie with the mischievous acronym “S&M.”
It took him four decades to change his view of the film and embrace it as a “terrific movie” that made him proud.
Plummer was born in Toronto on Dec. 13, 1929, into a privileged railroad family. He was the great-grandson of Sir John Abbott, the third prime minister of Canada.