Name:
Christopher Plummer
Birth Date:
December 13, 1927
Birth Place:
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Height:
5' 10½"
Nationality:
Canadian
Famous for:
His role as Captain von Trapp in 'The Sound of Music' (1965)
Profession:
actor, producer
Education:
Jennings Private School
BIOGRAPHY
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The Insider

Background:

Talented stage/screen actor Christopher Plummer is a two-time Tony Award winner and the recipient of four other Tony nominations. He is widely appreciated for his stage performance in productions like “J.B.” (1959), “Beckett” (1961, won a London Evening Standard Award), “Cyrano” (1974), a revival of “Othello” (1982), “No Man’s Land” (1994), the one-man show “Barrymore” (1997) and a sold-out revival of “King Lear” (2004).

Previously famous for his screen role as Captain Georg Von Trapp in the musical movie The Sound of Music (1965), Plummer gained critical recognition thanks to the turn of journalist Mike Wallace in the fact-based drama thriller The Insider (1999). He won a Genie Award after portraying Sherlock Holmes in Murder by Decree (1979) and collected four Genie nominations after taking part in The Amateur (1981), Impolite (1992), Ararat (2002) and Blizzard (2003). In appreciation for his continuous achievements, Plummer was given The Players’ Edwin Booth Lifetime Achievement Award (1997) and the Roundabout Theater’s Jason Robards Award for Excellence in Theatre (2002).

In 1968, the actor was named Companion of the Order of Canada and earned honorary Knighthood. The recipient of the 2001 Governor General’s Lifetime Achievement Award has been granted honorary doctorate titles from New York’s Julliard School, the University of Toronto, Ryerson, McGill University and the University of Western Ontario. He was inducted into the American Theatre’s Hall of Fame in 1986 and into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 1997.

Plummer has been married three times. He was formerly married to Tammy Grimes (1956-1960, had daughter Amanda Plummer) and Patricia Lewis (1962-1967), before tying the wedding knot with Elaine Taylor (1970-now).


Prime Minister’s Progeny

Childhood and Family:

Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer (later known simply as Christopher Plummer) was born on December 13, 1929, in Toronto, Canada, to Isabella Mary Abbott (head of the Canadian Handicrafts Guild) and John Plummer (secretary to the Dean of Science at McGill University). He is the great grandson of a prime minister of Canada, John Abbott, and a relative of playwright Guy Du Maurier and actor Nigel Bruce.

After his parents divorced, Christopher was raised in Montreal by his mother, who took him to many cultural events and piano class. While attending Jennings Private School, his passion for acting grew while serving as the lighting designer for a school production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

On August 19, 1956, Christopher married Tammy Grimes and has a daughter, actress Amanda Plummer, from the marriage. The couple broke up four years later and Christopher married Patricia Lewis on May 4, 1962. He was divorced for the second time in 1967. Presently, he is married to Elaine Taylor, whom he wed in 1970.


Iago of Othello

Career:

Christopher Plummer, who had his first important role in the student production of “Pride and Punishment,” sharpened his artistic skills with the Canadian Repertory Theatre in Ottawa. He made his first professional performance in the revival of Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline” (1948, played Posthumus) and the Ottawa production of “The Rivals” (1950). During his years with the repertory group, Plummer played 75 different roles in just two years.

Having his TV debut in the CBC production of Othello (1951), Plummer then worked extensively during the 1950s in anthology shows like “Studio One” (1953), “Kraft Television Theatre” (1954), “Producers’ Showcase” (1955) and "The Alcoa Hour” (1956). On stage, the actor made his Broadway debut in the Katherine Cornell- starring “The Starcross Story” (1954) and followed it up with a compelling performance as the Earl of Warwick in Anouilh’s “The Lark” (1955), opposite Julie Harris. He also went to Paris to star opposite Judith Anderson in “Medea” (1955) and returned home to portray the title role in “Henry V” (1956) at the Ontario’s Stratford Festival.

1958 saw the actor on the silver screen with the role of Joe Sheridan in Sidney Lumet’s Stage Struck, as well as a recurring appearance in the anthology series “Hallmark Hall of Fame” (1958-1962), which eventually brought an Emmy nomination for Best Single Performance by an Actor. A year later, he was nominated for a Tony after presenting a fine performance in the Elia Kazan-directed staging of “J.B.” (1959).

In 1961, Plummer made a successful London stage debut as King Henry II in “Beckett” and won a London Evening Standard award. The host of “Playdate” (1961-1962) earned his second Emmy nomination after carrying out the title role in the TV version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1964).

Plummer made one of his most memorable appearances when director Robert Wise cast him to costar as Captain Georg Von Trapp, alongside Julie Andrews, in the musical movie The Sound of Music (1965). It led to his next screen involvement in Triple Cross (1966), Oedipus the King (1967, had the title role), the TV historical program The Secret of Michelangelo (1968), Battle of Britain (1969), Waterloo (1970), an episode of “Play of the Month” (1971) and the horror thriller The Pyx (1973).

After penning and directing the play “Lovers and Madmen” (1973), Plummer delivered a Tony-winning portrayal of the title role in the musical “Cyrano” (1974). Following his turn as Sir Charles Litton in the comedy feature The Return of the Pink Panther (1975), the actor was praised for the Emmy-winning performance as Roscoe Heyward in the mini drama series “Arthur Hailey’s The Moneychangers” (1976).

Plummer then played Sherlock Holmes in the TV film Silver Blaze (1977), acted with Elliott Gould in The Silent Partner (1978) and reprised his Sherlock Holmes role in the movie Murder by Decree (1979, won a Genie award). Working with actor/director Paul Newman, the performer was seen in the ABC movie The Shadow Box (1980).

In 1982, Plummer earned a Genie nomination for his portrayal of Professor Lakos in The Amateur (1981), based on the novel by Robert Littell. The same year, he offered a notable turn as Archbishop Vittorio Contini-Verchese in the mini drama series “The Thorn Birds” (received an Emmy nomination) and played Iago in James Earl Jones’ stage revival of “Othello.” On Plummer’s Tony-nominated performance in the latter, Walter Kerr remarked that it was “. . . quite possibly the best Shakespearean performance to have originated on this continent in our time.”

The actor took double roles in the comedy Lily in Love (1984), narrated the TV cartoon film The Velveteen Rabbit (1985), voiced Henri in the animated feature An American Tail (1986) and guest starred in the sitcom “The Cosby Show” (1987). Plummer also toured throughout the nation to carry out the title role in the stage production of “Macbeth” (1988). Subsequent to the Italian horror Nosferatu a Venezia (1989), the actor starred as millionaire Alexander Addington in the action adventure series “Counterstrike” (1990-1993) and appeared in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), before gaining another Genie nomination for his role of Naples O’Rorke in thriller Impolite (1992).

Plummer then nabbed an Emmy after providing his vocals for the narration part of the animation series “Madeline” (1993). Accompanying the screen success, he accepted a Tony nomination for his Broadway performance in the revival of Harold Pinter’s “No Man’s Land” (1994). Subsequent to the TV movies Harrison Bergeron (1995) and We the Jury (1996), an Annie award nomination arrived for Plummer’s voiceover in Babes in Toyland (1997, voiced Barnaby Crookedman).

Finally, the actor won his second Tony thanks to his superb acting in the one-man show “Barrymore” (1997). However, Plummer, who in 1997 was also handed the Edwin Booth Lifetime Achievement award from The Players, did not fare well with the little-seen spy movie Hidden Agenda (1998), where he was cast as Ulrich Steiner.

Plummer’s breakthrough screen work came when acclaimed director Michael Mann chose him to play journalist Mike Wallace in the fact-based drama thriller The Insider (1999), alongside Russell Crowe and Al Pacino. Before long, Plummer collected Best Supporting Actor awards from the National Society of Film Critics, the Boston Society of Film Critics and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. In addition, he received a Golden Satellite nomination, as well as nominations from the Online Film Critics Society, the Las Vegas Film Critics Society, the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Satellite awards ceremony.

After picking up his first Golden Globe nomination for the role of F. Lee Bailey in the O.J. Simpson-based movie American Tragedy (2000), Plummer had a pivotal role as psychiatrist Dr. Rosen in Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind (2001, earned a Screen Actors Guild nomination) and took the part of David in the historical drama Ararat (2002, received a Genie nomination). Later, his brilliant portrayal of Ralph Nickleby in the movie version of Nicholas Nickleby (2002) was handed a National Board of Review, whereas his previous stage accomplishments was granted the 2002 Jason Robards award for Excellence in Theatre from the Roundabout Theater.

Plummer next gained a Genie nomination for the role of Santa Claus in the holiday movie Blizzard (2003), had his fourth Tony nomination for carrying out the title role in the sold-out play “King Lear” (2004) and gathered an Emmy and a Screen Actors Guild nomination for his near-to-flawless performance as Cardinal Bernard Law in the TV adaptation of the book by David France, Our Fathers (2005). Recently, he shared the screen with Denzel Washington, Clive Owen and Jodie Foster in the hostage drama Inside Man (2006), as well as played Simon Wyler, the father of Keanu Reeves’ character, in The Lake House (2006), based on the Korean drama film Siworae.

Still in 2006, Plummer will appear as Flash Madden in the comedy drama Man in the Chair. The actor, who will also work with actress Shirley MacLaine in the romantic drama Closing the Ring (2007), is now negotiating for the role of Frank Olliver in The Koi Keeper (2007). In 2008, Plummer will take part in the animated adaptation of J.R. Ackerley’s novel, My Dog Tulip (2008).


Awards:

  • Roundabout Theater: Jason Robards Award for Excellence in Theatre, 2002
  • National Board of Review: Best Acting by an Ensemble, Nicholas Nickleby, 2002
  • National Society of Film Critics: Best Supporting Actor, The Insider, 2000
  • Boston Society of Film Critics: Best Supporting Actor, The Insider, 1999
  • Los Angeles Film Critics Association: Best Supporting Actor, The Insider, 1999
  • The Players: Edwin Booth Lifetime Achievement Award, 1997
  • Tony: Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play, “Barrymore,” 1997
  • Emmy: Outstanding Voice-Over Performance, “Madeline,” 1994
  • Genie: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Murder by Decree, 1980
  • Emmy: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series, “Arthur Hailey’s the Moneychangers,” 1977
  • Tony: Best Leading Actor in a Musical, “Cyrano,” 1974
  • London Evening Standard: Best Actor, “Becket,” 1961
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