Last updated: February 19. 2013 11:36PM - 200 Views

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Charles Durning, a Tony Award-winning actor whose prolific work in films and television included supporting roles in the classic comedy Tootsie and the TV sitcom Evening Shade, died Monday. He was 89.

Durning, a decorated veteran of World War II, died of natural causes at his home in Manhattan, said Judith Moss, his longtime agent..

A seasoned former member of Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival whom Papp once described as a stocky, tough Irishman, Durning had a breakthrough role in the 1972 Broadway play That Championship Season.

Durning's Drama Desk Award-winning performance as one of four former high school basketball players who reunite with their old coach led to his being cast as the corrupt police lieutenant in The Sting, the Oscar-winning 1973 movie starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

Durning went on to appear in movies such as The Hindenburg, The Choirboys, Dick Tracy and O Brother, Where Art Thou?

As a supporting actor, he was nominated for two Oscars: in 1983 as the governor in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and in 1984 as the Nazi colonel in To Be or Not to Be.

His TV credits include Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, the 1975 made-for-television musical in which he played the mailman who reaches out to Maureen Stapleton's lonely widow on the dance floor.

As the small-town doctor on Evening Shade, the 1990-94 series starring Burt Reynolds, Durning earned two Emmy nominations as a supporting actor.

More recently, Durning played the father of Denis Leary's New York firefighter in the TV series Rescue Me -- a recurring role that earned him the last of the nine Emmy nominations.

Born Feb. 28, 1923, in Highland Falls, N.Y., Durning was one of 10 children.

In the Army during World War II, Durning was in the first wave of soldiers to land on Omaha Beach during the D-Day Normandy invasion in 1944. He was taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge and reportedly was one of the few survivors of the massacre of American POWs at Malmedy, Belgium.

He was awarded three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star.

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