NEW YORK — Christopher Plummer, the dashing award-winning actor who played Captain von Trapp in the film “The Sound of Music” and at 82 became the oldest Academy Award acting winner in history, has died. He was 91.
Plummer died Friday morning at his home in Connecticut with his wife, Elaine Taylor, by his side, said Lou Pitt, his longtime friend and manager.
Over more than 50 years in the industry, Plummer enjoyed varied roles ranging from the film “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” to the voice of the villain in 2009′s “Up” and as a canny lawyer in Broadway’s “Inherit the Wind.” In 2019 he starred as murdered mystery novelist in Rian Johnson’s whodunnit “Knives Out” and in the TV suspense drama series “Departure.”
But it was opposite Julie Andrews as von Trapp in 1965 that made him a star. He played an Austrian captain who must flee the country with his folk-singing family to escape service in the Nazi navy, a role he lamented was “humorless and one-dimensional.” Plummer spent the rest of his life referring to the film as “The Sound of Mucus” or “S&M.”
The role catapulted Plummer to stardom, but he never took to leading men parts, despite his silver hair, good looks and ever-so-slight English accent. He preferred character parts, considering them more meaty. His memoir in 2012 was titled “In Spite of Myself.”
Tributes quickly came from Hollywood and Broadway. Joseph Gordon-Levitt called him “one of the greats” and George Takei posted “Rest in eternal music, Captain von Trapp.” Dave Foley, a fellow Canadian, wrote: “If I live to be 91 maybe I’ll have time to fully appreciate all the great work of Christopher Plummer.”
Plummer was born Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer in Toronto. His maternal great-grandfather was former Canadian Prime Minister Sir John Abbott. His parents divorced shortly after his birth and he was raised by his mother and aunts.
Plummer married Tony-winning actress Tammy Grimes in 1956, and fathered his only child, actress Amanda Plummer, in 1957. Like both her parents, she also won a Tony, in 1982 for “Agnes of God.”
Plummer and Grimes divorced in 1960. A five-year marriage to Patricia Lewis ended in 1967. Plummer married his third wife, dancer Taylor, in 1970.
He was given Canada’s highest civilian honor when he was invested as Companion of the Order of Canada by Queen Elizabeth II in 1968, and was inducted into the American Theatre’s Hall of Fame in 1986.