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Christopher Plummer, CC (born December 13, 1929) is a Canadianmarker theater, film and television actor. In a career that spans over five decades and includes substantial roles in film, television, and theater, Plummer is perhaps best known for the role of Captain Georg von Trapp in The Sound of Music. His most recent film roles include the Disney-Pixar 2009 film Up as Charles Muntz, the Shane Acker production 9 as 1 and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus as Doctor Parnassus.

Early life

Plummer was born Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer in Torontomarker, Ontariomarker, Canada, the son of Isabella Mary (née Abbott, granddaughter of Prime Minister John Abbott) and John Plummer, who was secretary to the Dean of Sciences at McGill Universitymarker in Montreal, Quebecmarker.


Plummer has played most of the great roles in classic repertoire. He appeared in a lauded production of King Lear, directed by Jonathan Miller and performed at Lincoln Centermarker. Plummer's performance as Lear garnered him his sixth Tony nomination. He returned to Broadwaymarker in 2007 as Henry Drummond in a revival of Inherit the Wind, winning a Drama Desk Award nomination as well as his seventh Tony nomination.

Plummer returned to the stage at The Stratford Festival of Canada in August 2008 in a critically acclaimed performance as Julius Caesar in George Bernard Shaw's "Caesar and Cleopatra" directed by Tony winner Des McAnuff; this production was videotaped and shown in high-definition in Canadian cinemas on January 31, 2009 (with an encore presentation on February 23, 2009) and broadcast on April 4, 2009 on Bravo! in Canada.


Plummer's eclectic career on screen began in 1958 when Sidney Lumet cast him as a young writer in Stage Struck. Since then he has appeared in a vast number of notable films which include The Man Who Would Be King, The Fall of the Roman Empire, Jesus of Nazareth, The Return of the Pink Panther, Battle of Britain, Waterloo, The Silent Partner, Dragnet, Shadow Dancing, Inside Daisy Clover, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Malcolm X, Dolores Claiborne, Wolf, Twelve Monkeys, Murder by Decree, Somewhere in Time and Syriana.

One of Plummer's most critically acclaimed roles was that of television journalist Mike Wallace in Michael Mann's Oscar-nominated The Insider, for which he won Boston, Los Angeles, and National Society of Film Critics Awards for 'Best Supporting Actor'; he was also nominated for Chicago and Las Vegas Film Critics Awards, as well as a Satellite Award. Predicions of an Oscar nomination circulated, but such recogniton never came.

Other recent successes include his roles as Dr. Rosen in Ron Howard's Academy Award winning A Beautiful Mind, Arthur Case in Spike Lee's 2006 film Inside Man, and the philosopher Aristotle in Alexander, alongside Colin Farrell. In 2004, Plummer played John Adams Gates in National Treasure.

Owing to the box office success and continued popularity of The Sound of Music (1965), Plummer is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Captain Von Trapp, a role he reportedly disliked.

Plummer has also done some voice work, such as his role of the villainous Grand Duke of Owls in Rock-a-Doodle, the antagonistic Charles Muntz in Up and the elder leader 1 in the Tim Burton-produced action/sci-fi film 9.


Among his television appearances, which number almost a hundred, are the Emmy winning BBC production Hamlet at Elsinore, the five-time Emmy winning The Thorn Birds, the Emmy-winning Nuremberg, the Emmy-winning Little Moon of Alban and the Emmy-winning Moneychangers.

He co-starred in American Tragedy as F. Lee Bailey (for which he received a Golden Globe Nomination), and appeared in Four Minute Mile, Miracle Planet, and a documentary by Ric Burns' about Eugene O’Neill. He received an Emmy nomination for his performance in Our Fathers and reunited with Julie Andrews for a television production of On Golden Pond. He also played Herod Antipas in the miniseries, Jesus of Nazareth and was the narrator for The Gospel of John.

He narrated the animated television series Madeline as well as the animated television series David the Gnome

Plummer has also written for the stage, television and the concert-hall. Plummer and Sir Neville Marriner rearranged Shakespeare’s Henry V with Sir William Walton’s music as a concert piece. They recorded the work with Marriner's chamber orchestra the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.

He performed it and other works with the New York Philharmonic and symphony orchestras of Londonmarker, Washington, D.C.marker, Cleveland, Ohiomarker, Philadelphiamarker, Minneapolismarker, Torontomarker, Vancouvermarker and Halifaxmarker. With Marriner he made his Carnegie Hallmarker debut in his own arrangements of Mendelssohn’s incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Honours and Awards

Plummer has won many honours in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Austriamarker. He was the first winner of Canada's Genie Award, for Best Actor in Murder by Decree (1980) and has received three other Genie nominations. Plummer has won two Tony Awards (from seven nominations), and two Emmy Awards (six nominations) in the United States, and Great Britain's Evening Standard Award.

In 1968 he was invested as Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada's highest civilian honour. In 2001 he received the Canadian Governor General's Lifetime Achievement Award. He was made an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts at New York's Juilliard Schoolmarker and has received honorary doctorates from the University of Torontomarker, Ryerson Universitymarker, McGill Universitymarker, the University of Western Ontariomarker, the University of Ottawamarker, and most recently the University of Guelphmarker. Plummer was inducted into the American Theatre's Hall of Fame in 1986 and into Canada's Walk of Famemarker in Toronto in 1997.

His awards include the following:

Personal life

Plummer has been married three times. His first marriage, to Tony Award-winning actress Tammy Grimes, was in 1956 and lasted for four years. The couple's daughter, Amanda Plummer (born 1957), is an acclaimed actress in her own right. Plummer was married to journalist Patricia Lewis from May 4, 1962 until their divorce in 1967. He and his third wife, British dancer and actress Elaine Reginia Taylor, have been married since 1970 and live in a 100-year-old converted farm house in Connecticutmarker.

In a 2005 interview with Entertainment Weekly Plummer unpretentiously maintained that in their early days he and his fellow actors didn't drink "because we had problems. We drank 'cause we adored it! We adored getting drunk, you a--holes! Don't tell me that it isn't fun! I can't bear that. Oh, you must have had some awful childhood, that you drank like that. Nonsense! Actually, I was taught as a child to drink. I came from a family that loved wine. I was twelve, I think, when I was drinking wine with dinner. I'm glad I had fun and lived in a fun time."

Plummer's memoir, In Spite of Myself, was published by Knopf Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., in November 2008.




  1. New York Times, 12/19/08

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