Charles Durning, US Army Ranger – D-day and WWII Veteran A True BAMF And ‘King Of Character Actors,’ Dies At 89

 

 

 

 

” Durning’s impressive 50-year acting career has been crowned by a Tony Award and nominations for two Oscars and four Emmy awards, yet he never lost sight of his wartime experiences. In 1990, when he was making his Tony-winning star turn as Big Daddy in the Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, he opened up in a People Magazine feature. “There’s only so much you can witness,” he said of his time overseas. Indeed, his war decorations were hard-earned. Durning was the only man to survive a machine gun ambush on Omaha Beach – and he had to rise above serious wounds and kill seven German gunners to do it.

In late June 1944, Charles was seriously wounded by a mine at Les Mare des Mares, France but refused to seek a military discharge and spent almost 6 months recovering .

Months later in Belgium, he was stabbed eight times by a German teenage soldier wielding a bayonet; Durning eventually bludgeoned him to death with a rock.  He was released from the hospital in time to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, where he was taken prisoner. After escaping a subsequent massacre of the other prisoners, he was obliged by American forces to return to the scene and help identify bodies. Finally, a bullet in the chest a few months later ended his relentless tour of duty – and began four years of repeated hospitalizations for his physical and psychological injuries. ”