Christopher Plummer dead at 91: Our appreciation for the Oscar winner, ‘The Sound of Music,’ ‘Knives Out’ legend

While Julie Andrews might have felt that the hills were alive in the “Sound of Music,” it was Christopher Plummer’s Captain von Trapp who swept her off her feet in the 1965 Best Picture Oscar winner. Sadly, the Canadian-born actor is dead Friday morning at his Connecticut home at the age of 91.

His matinee idol good looks and smooth vocal intonations served him well throughout his seven-decade career in various venues, starting with Broadway in the ‘50s. He won two Best Actor Tonys, the first for the musical “Cyrano” in 1974 and the second for 1997 drama in “Barrymore,” based on the life of actor of matinee idol John Barrymore. He also was honored with two Primetime Emmy wins. The first was for his work in the 1976 miniseries “Arthur Hailey’s The Moneychangers” as a powerful banker pitted against a rival played by Kirk Douglas. The second was for narrating the 1999 children’s special “Madeline: Lost in Paris.”

Although he would appear in more than 100 films, including such notable titles as 1992’s “Malcolm X,” 1999’s “The Insider” as newsman Mike Wallace, 2001’s “A Beautiful Mind,” 2005’s “Syriana” and 2011’s “The Girl with the Dragon.” Plummer received his first Oscar nomination at age 80 for his supporting role as Russian author Leo Tolstoy opposite Helen Mirren as his wife in the 2009 biopic “The Last Station.” He would finally win a supporting statuette for his role in “Beginners” as Ewan McGregor’s 75-year-old cancer-stricken widower father who comes out as gay in the final five years of his life while finding love with a much younger man. He made history by becoming the oldest acting winner ever at age 82.

But his last Oscar nomination for a supporting role was for 2017’s “All the Money in the World” also found him playing a hero off-screen as well. Initially, Kevin Spacey played the role of multi-billionaire oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, whose grandson was kidnapped in Rome by an organized crime ring. However, before the film came out, the actor was mired in allegations of sexual misconduct. Director Ridley Scott decided to recruit Plummer to do 22 re-shoots of scenes in eight days, just one month before the film’s Christmas release date. He would become the oldest acting nominee ever at age 88.

While “The Sound of Music” might have heightened his profile in the industry, the film wasn’t one of his favorite things. He described his role as “so awful and sentimental and gooey.” He found the experience of filming the classic unpleasant, save for working with Andrews. He would avoid saying the title in interviews, calling it “that movie,” “S&M” and “The Sound of Mucus.” Plummer did do commentary for a 2005 DVD release and participated for the 45th anniversary celebration with the full cast on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

A whole new generation got to see the genius of Plummer as cagey Harlan Thrombey, a wealthy mystery novelist, whose family gathers to celebrate his 85th birthday party at his expansive Massachusetts mansion in 2019’s whodunit “Knives Out.” During the gathering, his housekeeper finds him dead with his throat slit. The police believe he committed suicide, but someone recruits private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), who believes someone murdered him. The fiendishly plotted film written and directed by Rian Johnson would gross $311.4 million worldwide on a $40 million budget.

So long, farewell, aufwiedersehn, good-bye, Captain von Trapp – you will be missed.

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