Christopher Plummer, who was among the greatest Canadian actors ever to grace stage and screen, has died.
Plummer died Friday morning at his home in Connecticut — two and a half weeks after suffering a fall — with his wife, Elaine Taylor, by his side, said Lou Pitt, his longtime friend and manager.
“Chris was an extraordinary man who deeply loved and respected his profession with great old fashion manners, self-deprecating humour and the music of words,” Pitt said in a statement to CBC News. “He was a national treasure who deeply relished his Canadian roots.
“Through his art and humanity, he touched all of our hearts and his legendary life will endure for all generations to come. He will forever be with us.”
In a career that spanned over six decades, Plummer was nominated for best supporting actor at the Academy Awards three times and won once at 82 for Beginners, a film about a widower who begins to live life as a gay man while dying of cancer.
He also captured two Tony Awards among seven nominations, and took home two Emmys. He earned a reputation as one of the great classical actors of modern times — without attending a prestigious theatre school.
He performed on Broadway, London’s West End and at Canada’s Stratford and Shaw festivals. There were few marquee Shakespearean roles he didn’t take on, a list that included Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Iago, Henry V, Antony, Mercutio and Prospero.
“The man is extraordinary, he’s got so many sides to him, he’s quite remarkable. When you share a stage with him it’s magic, it really is,” fellow actor Gordon Pinsent told CBC in 2011 when Plummer received Stratford’s lifetime achievement award.
On screen, Plummer appeared in 1965 as Captain von Trapp, alongside British stage and screen star Julie Andrews, in what was, for several years, the highest grossing film of all time, The Sound of Music, a role he was famously ambivalent about.
“What have I done playing with all these children? Children and dogs steal scenes,” Plummer recounted to CBC in a documentary two years after the release of the movie he often jokingly called The Sound of Mucus, or S and M.
Plummer, however, also said that he had “terrific memories” of making the movie, and forged a lifelong friendship with Andrews; he once said that working with her was like “getting hit over the head with a valentine.”
“The world has lost a consummate actor today and I have lost a cherished friend,” Andrews said Friday in a statement obtained by Reuters. “I treasure the memories of our work together and all the humour and fun we shared through the years.”
The movie brought him almost more work than he could handle on the stages of London’s West End and Broadway, as well as in TV movies and miniseries during the 1970s and ’80s.
But he then went on to enjoy a late-life renaissance in film, with lauded performances in The Insider, A Beautiful Mind, Beginners and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. In 2019 he starred as a murdered mystery novelist in Rian Johnson’s whodunnit Knives Out — one of his final film roles.
Born Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer on Dec. 13, 1929 in Toronto, he was a descendant of John Abbott, Canada’s third prime minister.
Plummer’s parents split up not long after his birth, and he was raised in relative privilege in Montreal by his mother and her extended family. He saw his father on only one other occasion years later.
A love for acting onstage was cemented by playing Mr. Darcy in a Montreal High School production of Pride and Prejudice. He would further develop his stagecraft at the Ottawa Repertory Theatre, and learned how to harness his baritone voice in CBC Radio plays. (CBC)