Biography

Christopher Plummer: 8 Decades Of Acting

Veteran Canadian actor Christopher Plummer died on February 5, 2021 after a fall, at the age of 91. His legacy of work in an acting career that spanned 8 decades and garnered 2 Tony Awards, 2 Emmy Awards, and 3 Academy Awards nominations in the past 11 years during his 80’s. He won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Beginners (2012) at 82, becoming the oldest actor to win an acting Academy Award.

Below, Christopher Plummer gave an interview to The National‘s Peter Mainsbridge in 2015 and reflected on his career and recognition.

Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer was born on December 13, 1929 in Toronto, Ontario. His childhood was one of wealth, as the great grandson of former Canada’s 3rd Prime Minister, Sir John Abbott. Like fellow Canadian actor and occasional costar William Shatner, he grew up in Quebec, and attended McGill University. 

Plummer began his professional career on stage with the Montreal Repertory Theatre (where he and Shatner first met). His internship at the Canadian Repertory Company in Ottawa, Ontario (1948-1950) coincided with William Shatner’s time there as well. It was Shatner that understudied Christoper Plummer at the Shakespearean Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario in a production of Henry V during the mid-1950s.

Christopher Plummer and William Shatner’s paths would cross again several times during their careers on stage, TV, and films: 

  • an episode of Omnibus “Oedipus, the King” in 1957.
  • the Canadian TV movie Riel (1979); co-starring with fellow Canadian Donald Sutherland.
  • they were on opposing sides in the feature film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). Shatner and Plummer’s co-stars in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country included original Star Trek cast members Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, and George Takei; as well as Kim Cattrall, Kurtwood Smith, John Schuck, and Christian Slater. Plummer is virtually unrecognizable as a Klingon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

Throughout his career, Christopher Plummer returned to perform at Ontario’s Shakespearean Stratford Festival and said many times that the stage and Shakespeare are his greatest theatrical loves. During the 1950’s, he alternated between stage roles in Canada, the United Kingdom, and on-and-off Broadway in New York.

Plummer made his television debut in “Othello“, a 1953 episode of the Canadian television series Encounter, that starred Lorne Greene. Over 20 years later, Lorne Greene and Christopher Plummer would be among the all-star cast of the television mini-series Arthur Hailey’s the Moneychangers (1976), along with Kirk Douglas, Timothy Bottoms, Susan Flannery, Joan Collins, Helen Hayes (The Snoop Sisters), Ralph Bellamy (The Waltons), and Hayden Rorke.  

During the 1950s Christopher Plummer hit his stride as a powerful, magnetic actor on stage; and an excessive drinker, partier and sexual adventurer off-stage. He was good friends with fellow actor and heavy drinker Jason Robards; the two recalled for The New York Times how they first met during the 1950’s era of live television. Both Jason Robards and Christopher Plummer appeared on an episode of Appointment with Adventure in 1956 and on an a fast, life-long friendship was born.

38 years later, friends Jason Robards and Christopher Plummer were appearing on stage together in No Man’s Land on Broadway in 1994, and living within 10 miles of each other in Connecticut with their respective spouses. By then both actors had long given up their hard-drinking ways; Robards after a 1972 life-changing automobile crash, and Plummer around the same time, thanks to feedback from his wife. Robards said “We didn’t do anything in the 60’s other than run into each other. In bars…We’d be out with Albie Finney and Jack Cassidy. O’Toole, Burton. It was the social life!”

In 1956, Christopher Plummer and friend Jason Robards were guest-stars on an episode of The Alcoa Hour, along with Lee Grant and Boris Karloff. Plummer has said of Boris Karloff that he was a “truly good human.” Boris Karloff and Christopher Plummer had appeared together onstage in the Lillian Hellman play The Lark the previous year (1955), along with Julie Harris.

Christopher Plummer would work together onstage 5 more times with Julie Harris (her most frequent co-star), and they co-starred in several movies, including the TV movie Johnny Belinda (1958) with Rip Torn; and A Doll’s House (1959), a TV drama co-starring Jason Robards and Richard Thomas. 

Julie Harris and Christopher Plummer co-starred with George Peppard (Banacek) in Little Moon of Alban (1958). Little Moon of Alban was Christopher Plummer’s first TV movie, and he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie, for his performance. 

Early Marriages and Friendships

In August 1956, Christopher Plummer married Tammy Grimes, whom he’d first met when she came backstage to congratulate him on his performance on Broadway in early 1955.They had daughter Amanda Plummer in March 1957; Plummer said he lost track of time while drinking with friends in a bar while his wife was in labour, and missed his daughter Amanda’s birth. He  acknowledged in his memoir that

I was a lousy husband and an even worse father.

Tammy moved out of their home, taking Amanda with her. They were divorced in 1960. Plummer rarely saw his daughter Amanda Plummer until she was an adult and had become an actress herself. Tammy Grimes would remarry a couple of times; she died in October 2016 at the age of 82. 

christopher plummer, canadian actor, arlene francis, american journalist, lauren bacall, actress, hollywood, party, 1960sArlene Francis, Lauren Bacall & Christopher Plummer at an industry party for the launch of Spartacus (1960).

Christopher Plummer’s first feature film was the romantic drama Stage Struck (1958) with Henry Fonda and Susan Strasberg. That same year, he co-starred in Wind Across the Everglades (1958) in a cast that included Burl Ives, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Peter Falk. 

Robert Redford and Roddy McDowall both crossed paths professionally with Christopher Plummer a couple of times. The TV movie Captain Brassbound’s Conversion (1960) stars Greer Garson and Plummer, with Redford in a minor role at the beginning of his career. Five years later, Redford had graduated to co-starring status with Plummer, Natalie Wood, and Roddy McDowall in the feature film Inside Daisy Clover (1965). In his 2008 memoir In Spite of Myself, Plummer recounted having first worked with McDowall when they co-starred on Broadway in The Tempest in 1955 with Raymond Massey and Jack Palance; a friendship grew outside the theatre. 

christopher plummer, canadian actor, stage, plays, hamlet at elsinore, movies, 1964, 1960s, film star(Christopher Plummer 1964 Hamlet at Elsinore)

Christopher Plummer starred in the made-for-TV movie Cyrano De Bergerac (1962) opposite Hope Lange (The Ghost and Mrs. Muir). Also in the cast of Cyrano De Bergerac were fellow Canadian actors Don Harron and Gordon Pinsent. More than 20 years later, in the TV musical comedy movie Parade of Stars (1983), Plummer resurrected the character of Cyrano De Bergerac

Plummer told People magazine that when he moved to England in the early 1960’s after his divorce, he was interviewed by a beautiful British Fleet Street journalist called Patricia Lewis, and a romance began. Patricia Lewis suffered disfiguring injuries after crashing her convertible into a pillar near Buckingham Palace while driving home late night with Plummer (he wasn’t seriously hurt). Christopher Plummer and Patricia Lewis were married in May 1962. He was already a heavy drinker and partier, and after her accident she also began to drink heavily. Their relationship disintegrated and Patricia and Christopher Plummer divorced in 1967 after 5 years of marriage.

The Sound of Music

The blockbuster movie musical The Sound of Music (1965) co-starred Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews, and is the movie that Plummer is most often associated with by his baby boomer and senior fans.

julie andrews, christopher plummer, 1964, the sound of music, 1960s movies, movie musicals, captain von trapp, maria von trapp (Christopher Plummer & Julie Andrews 1964 Photo: 20th Century Fox)

Plummer has said he was mis-cast in the sentimental musical The Sound of Music, as he was a non-singing, non-dancing serious stage actor. Plummer was ensconced at an Austrian hotel while The Sound of Music was being shot; he was frequently drunk, had an affair, and at one point gained too much weight to fit into his costume.

Below, Christopher Plummer sings Edelweiss to fellow The Sound of Music actors Eleanor Parker, Max Detweiler, Julie Andrews, and his onscreen children, in this Rodgers and Hammerstein’s videoclip.

In the years after The Sound of Music, Christopher Plummer would frequently refer to it as “The Sound of Mucus,” while acknowledging that the movie worked on many levels (especially financially). 36 years after The Sound of Music, now both in their senior citizen years, Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews were reunited onscreen in the TV movie On Golden Pond (2001) with Glenne Headly and Sam Robards (the son of Plummer’s good friend Jason Robards and Lauren Bacall). 

Other movies and co-stars of note for Christopher Plummer during the 1960’s included starring or co-starring roles in:

  • 2 movies with Omar SharifThe Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), with co-stars Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, Alec Guinness, and James Mason; and The Night of the Generals (1967) starring Peter O’Toole. Below, Christopher Plummer and Sophia Loren are among the featured cast members in the Paramount Pictures movie trailer for The Fall of the Roman Empire, below.

3 movies with Robert Shaw, 2 of which also co-starred Michael Caine:

    • Hamlet at Elsinore (1964), a  TV movie with Donald Sutherland in the cast. Christopher Plummer was nominated again for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie, for his performance in Hamlet at Elsinore
    • Battle of Britain (1969) starred Michael Caine, with Trevor Howard, Curd Jürgens (Kurt Jurgens), Ian McShane, Laurence Olivier, and Susannah York. Christopher Plummer and Laurence Olivier had also acted on stage together when Plummer was in England. 
    • The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1969).

  • The movie Triple Cross (1966), starred Plummer with Trevor Howard and Claudine Auger. Above, the Warner Archive preview clip for Triple Cross features Yul Brynner, Christopher Plummer, Romy Schneider, and Gert Fröbe. In addition to Battle of Britain and Triple Cross, Trevor Howard and Christopher Plummer would appear in 2 more movies together in the 1970’s:
    • Conduct Unbecoming (1975), with Richard Attenborough, Stacy Keach, Susannah York.
    • Aces High (1976), with Malcolm McDowell, Peter Firth, John Gielgud, and Ray Milland.
  • Nobody Runs Forever (1968) also known as The High Commissioner, co-starring Rod Taylor.  

Classically-trained Shakespearean actors Donald Sutherland and Christopher Plummer had first worked together in the 1964 TV movie. They were paired again in Oedipus the King (1968), with Orson Welles. These prolific Canadian leading men and actors would co-star several more times together during their careers:

  • The Disappearance (1977), a British-Canadian thriller with John Hurt, and Sutherland’s live-in love Francine Racette.
  • James Mason and Christopher Plummer were also part of the all-star cast in the TV mini-series Jesus of Nazareth (1977). Their co-stars in Jesus of Nazareth included Ian McShane, Olivia Hussey, Michael York, Claudia Cardinale, Laurence Oliver, Rod Steiger, and Stacy Keach.
  • Ordeal by Innocence (1984), an Agatha Christie novel adapation with Faye Dunaway. Sarah Miles, and Ian McShane.
  • Murder by Decree (1979), another British-Canadian thriller with James Mason, Susan Clark, John Gielgud, and Geneviève Bujold. Plummer won Canada’s newly-created Canadian Genie Award for his performance in Murder by Decree. Right, James Mason and Christopher Plummer in Murder by Decree.

christopher plummer, james mason, canadian actor, british actor, movies, 1970s, feature films, murder by decree, sherlock holmes, watson(Christopher Plummer & James Mason 1979 Murder By Decree)

In an interview with The Globe and Mail in 2012, Christopher Plummer reflected back on his era of heavy drinking and carousing in the 1950s and 1960’s. He said he drank because he enjoyed it, it hid his lack of confidence and shyness, and it was “the fashion” of the time, especially in the world of the theatre and with hard-drinking buddies like Jason Robards, Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison and Albert Finney. Fuelled by booze (but never drugs), Plummer also indulged in affairs and reckless sexual encounters at parties. 

Happy Marriage, Tonys and Emmys

While filming the movie Lock Up Your Daughters! (1969) co-starring Susannah York, Glynis Johns, and Elaine Taylor in Ireland in 1968, Christopher Plummer and Elaine Taylor fell in love.

christopher plummer 2007, canadian actor, senior citizen, octogenarian(Christopher Plummer 2007 Photo: gdcgraphics)

When Plummer asked Taylor for his memoir what her first thoughts were on meeting him, she was candidly honest: 

Oh, yes, we tumbled into bed and all that, but I didn’t like you very much. I thought you were the most conceited prig–the way you ponced about in that big convertible of yours. And you drank far too much–but there was something, I suppose...”  

In his 2008 memoir, In Spite of Myself, Christopher Plummer calls Elaine Taylor “my partner and my life … my light in the wilderness.”  

They married in October of 1970 in Montreal, and soon after Plummer gave up drinking hard liquor. The clincher may have been his wife Elaine telling him: 

Just look at yourself in the mirror. You think you’re so attractive when you drink. You’re not. You are not a charming drunk.”

During the 1970’s, Plummer continued to enjoy leading-man roles on stage, television and in the movies. He won his first Tony Award in 1974 for his performance as Cyrano de Bergerac in the Broadway musical Cyrano (from May-June 1973).

christopher plummer, canadian actor, movies, 1970s, feature films, the pyx, 1973, thrillers(Christopher Plummer 1973 The Pyx)

On television, he won his first Emmy Award as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series in 1977, for The Moneychangers.

Baby boomers and seniors may also remember seeing Christopher Plummer in starring or co-starring parts in these films:

  • After the Fall (1974), a TV drama with Faye Dunaway and Bibi Andersson. Faye Dunaway and Christopher Plummer would also co-star in Ordeal by Innocence (1984). 
  • The Day That Shook the World (1975) with Maximilian Schell. In 1991, Christopher Plummer and Maximilian Schell worked together again in the historical TV movie Young Catherine (1991); their co-stars in Young Catherine included Franco Nero, Julia Ormond, and Marthe Keller (his co-star from The Amateur, 1981).
  • The Man Who Would Be King (1975); Plummer played poet-author Rudyard Kipling, with co-stars Sean Connery and Michael Caine. The Man Who Would Be King was the 3rd movie for Michael Caine and Christopher Plummer, after co-starring in Hamlet at Elsinore (1964) and Battle of Britain (1969). 
  • The Silent Partner (1978) with Elliott Gould was the 4th movie for Susannah York and Christopher Plummer. Their first 3 movies were Battle of Britain (1969), Lock Up Your Daughters! (1969) and Conduct Unbecoming (1975).  
  • Waterloo (1979) with Rod Steiger and Orson Welles. Plummer had co-starred with both men before; with Orson Welles in Oedipus the King (1968), and Rod Steiger in the mini-series Jesus of Nazareth (1977). 

By the early 1980’s Elaine and Christopher Plummer had moved to the U.S., in part to escape British taxes. The Plummer’s bought an old farmhouse in Connecticut and were busy renovating it when interviewed by People magazine in March 1982; in 2015 it sold for over $11 million.  

Plummer began appearing more frequently on Broadway and in the movies. His performance as Iago in Othello on Broadway prompted this review by New York Times critic Walter Kerr: “Plummer’s demonic exertions constitute quite possibly the best single Shakespearean performance to have originated on this continent in our time.”

The list of movies starring Christopher Plummer during the early 1980’s includes films with these actors: 

  • Joanne Woodward, Valerie Harper, and John Considine in the TV movie The Shadow Box (1980), directed by Woodward’s husband Paul Newman.  
  • Jane Seymour, Christopher Reeve, and William H. Macy in the historical romance Somewhere in Time (1980). In the TV mini-series Crossings (1986), Christopher Plummer and Jane Seymour’s co-stars included Cheryl Ladd, Lee Horsley, and Kelsey Grammer. 
  • William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, James Woods, Pamela Reed, and Morgan Freeman, in the mystery Eyewitness (1981).
  • Beverly D’Angelo, Saul Rubinek, and Maury Chaykin in the comedy thriller Highpoint (1982). In the 1990 comedy Where the Heart Is, Plummer and Maury Chaykin co-starred again, along with Dabney Coleman, Uma Thurman, Joanna Cassidy, and Crispin Glover.
  • Angie Dickinson, Michael Parks, Clement von Franckenstein and Anthony Quayle (in his 3rd movie with Christopher Plummer), all appeared in Dial M for Murder (1981). 
  • Angela Lansbury, Rosalyn Landor, J. T. Walsh and Glynis Johns, in the TV drama Little Gloria…Happy at Last (1982). Glynis Johns and Christopher Plummer had co-starred previously, in the 1969 movie Lock Up Your Daughters!.

The Thorn Birds (1983) TV miniseries was based on author Colleen McCullough’s epic best-selling novel. Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward, Bryan Brown, Barry Cobin, Piper Laurie, Earl Holliman, and Mare Winningham co-starred with Christopher Plummer in the equally popular mini-series. Plummer was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie, for his performance as an archbishop in The Thorn Birds.

By the mid 1980’s, Christopher Plummer had begun to appear in more supporting roles vs as a leading man. He also began to take on voice-acting roles, and could be heard in animated movies such as The Velveteen Rabbit (1985). Plummer was the narrator in several animated “Madeline” movies, winning his second Emmy Award for his narration in the animated Madeline TV series (1993-1994). He voiced the Grand Duke in the feature film Rock-A-Doodle (1991), and can be heard as Charles Muntz in Up (2009) as Charles Muntz.  

Christopher Plummer films from the latter half of the 1980’s and the early 1990’s include:

  • Dragnet (1987), a comedy co-starring Dan Aykroyd, Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Ashley, and Dabney Coleman. Dan Aykroyd and Christopher Plummer would co-star again in the Canadian TV movie The Arrow (1997), along with Michael Moriarty and Michael Ironside (Michael Ironside and Plummer had co-starred in the 1989 thriller Mindfield). 
  • Money (1991) co-starring with Eric Stoltz, Maryam d’Abo, F. Murray Abraham, and Danny DeVito. The next year, Plummer had a small role in the TV thriller The First Circle (1992), with Victor Garber and F. Murray Abraham.
  • Wolf (1994), a horror movie starring Jack Nicholson, with Michelle Pfeiffer, Jamea Spader, Kate Nelligan, Richard Jenkins, David Hyde Pierce, Ron Rifkin, and David Schwimmer. 
  • Dolores Claiborne (1994), a mystery with Kathy Bates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Eric Bogosian, and John C. Reilly. 
  • Twelve Monkeys (1995), a sci-fi thriller in which he played a doctor; the movie starred Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt, and Christopher Meloni. 

Plummer was a regular on the TV series Counterstrike (1990-1993), co-starring with Simon MacCorkindale. He won his second Tony Award in 1997 for his Leading Actor performance on Broadway in Barrymore. 14 years later, Plummer would star again as Barrymore (2011) in what was essentially a one-man movie.

During the latter half of the 1990’s Christopher Plummer co-starred in several TV films and series, including: 

  • Winchell (1998), a historical drama with Stanley Tucci, Glenne Headly, Kevin Tighe, and Paul Giamatti; Plummer played President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • Nuremberg (2000), a miniseries co-starring Alec Baldwin, Jill Hennessy, and Max von Sydow. This marked the second time Max Von Sydow and Plummer worked together, after first co-starring (along with Dennis Quaid) in Dreamscape (1984). Von Sydow and Plummer were co-stars a third time in the 2007 drama Emotional Arithmetic (2007), and Quaid and Plummer worked together again in the thriller Cold Creek Manor (2003). 

The Insider (1999) saw Christopher Plummer co-starring as Mike Wallace, in a movie with Russell Crowe, Al Pacino, Philip Baker Hall, Debi Mazar, Colm Feore, Gina Gershon, Michael Gambon, and Rip Torn. Plummer said that his portrayal of Mike Wallace, and the experience of working with Russell Crowe in The Insider, was a highlight of his career. He had worked with veteran actor Rip Torn before – 40 years earlier, in the TV movie Johnny Belinda (1958). Plummer worked with Russell Crowe again in the hit movie A Beautiful Mind (2001); Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany, Adam Goldberg, Josh Lucas, Judd Hirsch, and Roy Thinnes are in supporting roles in the film.

Other movies and television projects featuring Plummer – now in his 70s – were:

  • Possessed (2000), a TV horror movie co-starring Timothy Dalton, Piper Laurie, and Kathy Bates. Plummer and Piper Laurie had both appeared in the 1983 miniseries The Thorn Birds, 27 years earlier; and he had co-starred with Kathy Bates in the 1994 movie Dolores Claiborne.
  • Ararat (2002), a Canadian drama co-starring with Charles Aznavour, Brent Carver, Eric Bogosian (another co-star from Dolores Claiborne), and Bruce Greenwood. Plummer was nominated for Canada’s Genie Award for his performance in Ararat

National Treasure (2004) had Christopher Plummer co-starring as John Adams Gates, father of star Nicolas Cage‘s character. Fellow cast members in National Treasure included Sean Bean, Jon Voight, and Harvey Keitel. As with so many of his co-stars at this point in his career, Plummer had worked with Nicolas Cage previously – almost 20 years earlier, in the Canadian movie The Boy in Blue (1985) with Cynthia Dale, Jeff Wincott, and Kim Coates.

Christopher Plummer was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor – Miniseries or a Movie, for his performance as Cardinal Bernard Law in Our Fathers (2005), a TV drama which explored the subject of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. 

He appeared in 3 very commercially successful feature films in 2005-2006:

  • Syriana (2005), a political thriller co-starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Amanda Peet, Chris Cooper, Robert Foxworth, and Jamey Sheridan. 
  • Must Love Dogs (2005), a romantic comedy-drama co-starring Diane Lane, John Cusack, Elizabeth Perkins, Dermot Mulroney, and Stockard Channing. Plummer plays a widowed father of grown daughters (Diane Lane), who is happily playing the field as a single senior in Must Love Dogs.
  • The Lake House (2006), a romantic fantasy co-starring Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, and Dylan Walsh. 

Irish actor Colin Farrell and Christopher Plummer co-starred in 3 movies beginning with the historical biography Alexander (2004). Their Alexander co-stars included veteran actors Anthony Hopkins (whom Plummer had co-starred with in the 1978 movie International Velvet, and Val Kilmer. They were co-stars again in The New World (2005), and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009), in which Plummer played the title character.

Not content with providing Emmy-nominated performances during his 70’s, Plummer also continued to appear on stage. He garnered two more Tony Award nominations, for his performances on Broadway as King Lear in King Lear (2004), and as Henry Drummond in Inherit the Wind (2007).

The Oldest Actor To Win an Academy Award

Always a prolific and compelling actor, as an octogenarian Plummer’s performances continued to captivate audiences, in such movies as: 

  •  The Last Station (2009) with co-stars Helen Mirren and Paul Giamatti. Paul Giamatti and Plummer had co-starred in the 1998 TV movie Winchell 20 years earlier. Both Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer were nominated for Academy Awards for their performances as author Leo Tolstoy and his wife Sofya, in The Last Station
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), co-starring Daniel Craig, with veteran actors Stellan Skarsgård, Robin Wright, Joely Richardson, and Goran Visnjic. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a critical and commercial hit. 
  • Muhammad Ali‘s Greatest Fight (2013), a drama with Frank Langella, Ed Begley Jr., and Danny Glover. 

Christopher Plummer won his first and only Academy Award for his Supporting Actor performance as dying father and widower Hal Fields, in the romantic comedy Beginners (2010). He plays a senior who finally comes out of the closet; Ewan McGregor is his on-screen son Oliver Fields, Goran Visnjic is Hal’s younger lover, and Mary Page Keller is Oliver‘s mom. At age 82, Christopher Plummer became the oldest actor or actress to win an Actor Academy Award.

Plummer told The Globe and Mail in 2012 that to keep physically and mentally fit as an octogenarian senior, he still worked out regularly at a gym and watched what he ate. To spare his knees, he’d just given up playing tennis. 

In the movie Elsa & Fred (2014), actress Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer portray a pair of heart-tugging seniors near the end of their lives, who discover achieving their dreams and true love are both still within their grasp. Co-starring with them in Elsa & Fred are George Segal, Marcia Gay Harden, Chris Noth, James Brolin, and Scott Bakula. Below, Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer at the 2014 Miami Film Festival opening night, to promote Elsa and Fred.  

shirley maclaine 2014, christopher plummer, senior citizens, octogenarians, older couple, american actress, canadian actor, movies, elsa and fred(2014 Shirley MacLaine Christopher Plummer Photo: Miami Film Festival)

Plummer never stopped acting. He was in Danny Collins (2015) with Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, and Bobby Canavale; and co-starred as Kaiser Wilhelm II in The Exception (2016) with Lily James. 

In the Canadian-German feature film Remember (2015), Plummer and Martin Landau co-star as elderly Holocaust survivors on a quest to bring a concentration camp nemesis to justice. Landau’s character cannot physically leave their long term care centre, and Plummer’s character should not (he has dementia). Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau had co-starred together several times before, beginning 24 years earlier with the sci-fi thriller Firehead (1991), which included actors Chris Lemmon and Landau’s girlfriend Gretchen Becker in the cast. 

Plummer and his wife Elaine celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary in 2016. He received his third Academy Award nomination for his performance as J. Paul Getty in the biographical drama All the Money in the World (2017), and co-starred in Boundaries (2018) with Christopher Lloyd, Vera Farmiga, Bobby Cannavale, and Peter Fonda. His last television role was in the 2019 TV mystery-thriller series Departure, co-starring Archie Panjabi.

The 91-year-old actor had most recently worked on a voice-over role in the animated movie Heroes of the Golden Masks, set to be released later in 2021. 

Note: This article was first published in 2016 as as two-part series, Celebrating Seniors: Christopher Plummer is 87. It has been updated with new & additional content.

*Images are public domain or Creative Commons licensed & sourced via Wikimedia Commons, Vimeo, YouTube, or Flickr, unless otherwise noted*

Anita Hamilton

50+ World editor & baby boomer writer Anita Hamilton has always been interested in the "real people" stories behind the characters that create and inhabit the world of music, books, movies, television shows, current events, history, etc. A lifelong love of research (ok, nosiness) and writing, combined with a loving and supportive family complete with 3 mini-dachshund minions, keeps her busy.

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