Obituary: Christopher Plummer, Canadian actor best known for The Sound of Music

Christopher Plummer, Canadian actor. Born: December 13 1929 in Toronto, Canada.Died: February 5 2021 in Weston, Connecticut, United States, aged 91

Christopher Plummer collecting the Best Supporting Actor Award for Beginners in 2012
Christopher Plummer collecting the Best Supporting Actor Award for Beginners in 2012

Christopher Plummer was one of the most distinguished post-war Shakespearean actors, but was best known for his portrayal of Captain von Trapp in The Sound Of Music.

His career spanned more than seven decades, during which he played many substantial roles in film, television and theatre, including most of the major Shakespearean parts, picking up many awards along the way.

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Despite his huge success in The Sound Of Music it was a musical he did not like – he had been known to describe it as The Sound Of Mucus.

More recently he was nominated for an Oscar for his turn in Sir Ridley Scott’s All The Money In The World as J Paul Getty. In his career Plummer won an Academy Award, two Primetime Emmys, two Tony Awards, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Bafta.

Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer was born in Toronto on December 13 1929. He studied to become a concert pianist but soon developed a love for the theatre. It was in Montreal that he began his professional career on stage and on the radio, both in French and English. He went on to star in many prize-winning productions on Broadway and in London’s West End, including the title role in the musical Cyrano for which he was won his first Tony.

Plummer was also a leading member of Britain’s National Theatre under Sir Laurence Olivier, and the RSC under Sir Peter Hall, where he won the London Evening Standard Best Actor award. His screen career began in 1958, and his film credits included The Man Who Would Be King, Battle of Britain, Waterloo, Malcolm X, Star Trek VI and Murder By Decree.

Plummer made more than 100 TV appearances, including the Emmy-winning BBC production Hamlet at Elsinore. He didn't limit himself to acting, writing for the stage, screen and concert hall. He was also the co-arranger of Shakespeare’s Henry V as a concert piece. He performed it and other works with the New York Philharmonic and Symphony orchestras in The UK, US and Canada.

Plummer was inducted into the American Theatre’s Hall of Fame in 1986 and into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 1997.

He won the Oscar for best supporting actor at the age of 82 for Beginners in 2010, becoming the oldest person to win an acting award. However, it was his performance as frugal billionaire J Paul Getty in Sir Ridley Scott’s All The Money In The World that earned him the greatest plaudits in his final years. He was signed up to replace Kevin Spacey, who had become embroiled in Hollywood’s sexual harassment and abuse scandal, in hastily organised re-shoots costing millions less than two months before the film’s world premiere. He received an Oscar nod at 88, making him the oldest person to be nominated in an acting category.

At 89, he appeared in a leading role in Departure, a 2019 Canadian-British TV series about the disappearance of a transatlantic flight.

Among his final big screen roles was hit murder mystery Knives Out, in which he played Harlan Thrombey.

He is survived by third wife, Elaine Taylor, whom he wed in 1970, and his actress daughter Amanda Plummer, from his first marriage to actress Tammy Grimes.