At exactly 8 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, Dec. 27, Broadway will dim its lights to honor Charles Durning, who died Monday at 89.
Though well known for TV's "Rescue Me" where he played Michael, Tommy's dad for seven years, and as the voice of Francis Griffin on "Family Guy" for a decade, Durning was a steady presence on Broadway since 1964 when he began as an understudy.
By 1972, however, he had a breakout role in "That Championship Season" as the self-promoting mayor.
Durning won a Tony Award in 1990 for his portrayal of Big Daddy in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
The varied roles continued. And in 1996, Durning had a courtroom duel with George C. Scott -- consider the show of machismo on that stage -- in "Inherit the Wind." The next year he starred with Julie Harris in a Broadway revival of "The Gin Game."
His final Broadway appearance was at the kingmaker, former president, in "Gore Vidal's The Best Man."
"Charles Durning was a memorable figure on Broadway, who delighted audiences in thousands of performances," Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of The Broadway League, says. "It made no difference if he was an ensemble player or leading man, his talent enabled him to show the truth and reveal the story of any role. He will be greatly missed."
The lights will be dimmed for a full minute just as the curtains rise tonight.
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