R.I.P. Christopher Plummer, legendary screen star in the The Thorn Birds and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

By: H&I Staff     Posted: February 5, 2021, 4:23PM Tags: Obituaries

Christopher Plummer, Oscar, Emmy and Tony winner, has died at the age of 91. Best known as the surly Captain Von Trapp who warms to the unorthodox ways of Julie Andrews' Maria in The Sound of Music, Plummer also appeared in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and, at 82, became the oldest actor to win an Oscar for his performance in the film Beginners. Six years later he became the oldest person ever nominated for playing J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World.

Born in Toronto but raised in Montreal, Plummer began his career performing on stage in both English and French. His theatre experience helped in his television debut, a rendition of Shakespeare’s Othello in 1953 on the Canadian anthology series General Motors Presents, known as Encounter in the U.S. The episode was also the first television appearance of fellow Canadian Lorne Greene, who played the title character. 

Plummer continued in teleplays, many performed live, on shows like Studio One in Hollywood, Suspense, Producers' Showcase and General Electric Theatre. These early roles would prove prophetic as he later won acclaim in Broadway versions of the same stories, like Othello, opposite James Earl Jones, and Cyrano, the musical based on Cyrano de Bergerac.

After playing supporting roles in only a few theatrical films, Plummer won the part he is still known for to this day — Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. After that he was a bona fide movie star, appearing in multiple projects a year through the 1970s. He also joined several limited series in the 70s and 80s, reuniting with Lorne Green in Arthur Hailey's The Moneychangers, and starring alongside Barbara Stanwyck and Richard Chamberlain in The Thorn Birds.

Though he already had a decades-long career by the end of the 20th century, Plummer's time in show business was far from over. He appeared in the movies Malcolm X, 12 Monkeys, The Insider, A Beautiful Mind, National Treasure, and Inside Man, among many others. One of his most memorable recent roles was in the whodunnit Knives Out. Plummer plays a wealthy patriarch, somewhat of a theme in his later roles, whose murder throws his adult children into a frenzy.

With a career that spanned nearly 70 years, Christopher Plummer fully cemented his status as an acting legend of both stage and screen.