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Christopher Plummer CC (Companion of the Order of Canada) (full name Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer) (December 13, 1929 – February 5, 2021) was a Canadian actor who portrayed Sherlock Holmes twice, first in a TV movie adaptation of Silver Blaze and of more noteworthy note, Murder by Decree.

Biography[]

Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer was born on December 13, 1929, in Toronto, Ontario. He was the only child of John Orme Plummer, who sold stocks and other securities, and his wife Isabella Mary (née Abbott), who worked as secretary to the Dean of Sciences at McGill University, and was the granddaughter of Canadian Prime Minister Sir John Abbott. On his father's side, Plummer's great-uncle was patent lawyer and agent F. B. Fetherstonhaugh. Plummer was also a second cousin of British actor Nigel Bruce, known for portraying Doctor Watson to Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes.

As a schoolboy, he began studying to be a concert pianist, but developed a love for theatre at an early age, and began acting while he was attending the High School of Montreal. He took up acting after watching Laurence Olivier's film Henry V (1944). He learned the basics of acting as an apprentice with the Montreal Repertory Theatre, where fellow Montrealer William Shatner also played.

Plummer made his Broadway debut in 1954, and continued to act in leading roles on stage playing Cyrano de Bergerac in Cyrano (1974), Iago in Othello, as well as playing the titular roles in Hamlet at Elsinore (1964), Macbeth, King Lear, and Barrymore. Plummer also performed in stage productions J.B., No Man's Land, and Inherit the Wind. He made his film debut in Sidney Lumet's Stage Struck (1958), and won great acclaim for his performance as Captain Georg von Trapp in the musical film The Sound of Music (1965) alongside Julie Andrews.

He was cast as Sherlock Holmes in 1977's Silver Blaze, British/Canadian TV film adaptation of The Adventure of Silver Blaze. He would don the deerstalker again two years later in 1979's Murder by Decree, a bigger budget British/Canadian production where Holmes and Watson become embroiled in the investigation surrounding the real-life 1888 Whitechapel murders committed by "Jack the Ripper". His performance as Holmes in Murder by Decree earned Plummer his only Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.

Plummer's performance as Sherlock Holmes earned him acclaim from critics and fans of Sherlock Holmes:

"Christopher Plummer and James Mason seize their roles like a couple of happy musicians handed prize antique instruments: their duets are by turns droll, lyric and touching." David Ansen, Newsweek

"With Christopher Plummer as a charming, cultivated Holmes, a fellow who reveals himself to be a man of unexpected social and political conscience, and with James Mason as an especially fond and steadfast Watson, "Murder by Decree" is a good deal of uncomplicated fun, not in a class with Nicholas Meyer's "The Seven Percent Solution," but certainly miles ahead of many other current movies that masquerade as popular entertainment." Vincent Canby, The New York Times

"This more obviously fictional earlier draft is the better bet, with a well-constructed screenplay from John Hopkins and a very fine Holmes and Watson teaming from Christopher Plummer and James Mason. Mason makes a lot out of a tiny little scene about eating peas and provides a human centre for a fairly cynical tale, while Plummer is a more impassioned Sherlock than usual, dryly sorting through clues but appalled by the truths he uncovers and even, at one point, moved to tears." Kim Newman, Empire

"He was Sherlock Holmes in Murder by Decree (1979). His detective is a smart, sentimental and charitable man who is deeply aghast by the brutality and cruelty he has to face. He investigates the case of Jack the Ripper and finds out that the criminal belongs to the high society. This Holmes is a master of disguises, and is quite good in reasoning. The movie is old but we recommend it because Plummer is an excellent actor, the story is gripping and the sets are fine." Sherlockian Sherlock (sherlockian-sherlock.com)

"Plummer and Mason together make one of cinema's great -- certainly the most touching -- Holmes-Watson teams. Ripperologists will be pleased by how faithful the script is to historical incidents and persons involved." Mark Bourne, DVDJournal.com

"With smoking pipe, fiddle and bent syringe needle, Christopher Plummer is the Sherlock Holmes that Conan Doyle wrote about; James Mason as Dr. Watson extends an endearing tribute to Albert Bassermann, with a dash of Humbert Humbert as he finds his finger caught between the teeth of a back-alley trollop." Fernando F. Croce, CinePassion

"Hardly the heartless “thinking machine” he can appear elsewhere, Holmes comes across here as the quintessential humanist, indulging in righteous anger and even shedding a few tears on more than one occasion at the suffering of others. Holmes’s final bit of dialogue takes on a loaded significance in the era of Vietnam and Watergate." Bob Wilkins, Slant Magazine.

"Plummer is terrific as Sherlock Holmes, an underrated portrayal of the great detective that is ripe for reappraisal, and the master thespian of stage and screen easily finds the heart at the center of the character’s cool deductive reasoning and charming eccentricity." Robert Morgan, Rock! Shock! Pop!

Plummer portrayed numerous major historical figures, including Commodus in The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington in Waterloo (1970), Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would Be King (1975), Mike Wallace in The Insider (1999), Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station (2009), Kaiser Wilhelm II in The Exception (2016), and J. Paul Getty in All the Money in the World (2017). Plummer also appeared in Spike Lee's Malcolm X (1992), Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind (2001), Terrence Malick's The New World (2005), David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), Rian Johnson's Knives Out (2019), and Todd Robinson's The Last Full Measure (2019).

Plummer also had an established career on television, appearing in several TV films and mini-series as well as TV series like Counterstrike, a Canadian/French crime-fighting/espionage series that ran for three seasons from 1990 to 1993, Plummer played international industrialist Alexander Addington who assembles a clandestine team of troubleshooters in order to help combat terrorism around the world.

His career spanned seven decades, gaining recognition for his performances in film, television, and theatre.

Plummer received various awards for his work, including an Academy Award (Oscar), two Primetime Emmy Awards, two Tony Awards, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a British Academy Film Award, a Genie Award and a Canadian Screen Award. He is one of the few performers to have received the Triple Crown of Acting (Oscar, Emmy and Tony), and the only Canadian. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor at the age of 82 for Beginners (2010), becoming the oldest person to win an acting award, and he received a nomination at the age of 88 for All the Money in the World, making him the oldest person to be nominated in an acting category. He was nominated for a Grammy Award once for the children's recording, E.T.A. Hoffmann/Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker. He was awarded the Companion of the Order of in the 1968 Queen's Honours List for his services to drama; Canada's highest civilian honor.

On February 5, 2021, Plummer died at his home in Weston, Connecticut, aged 91. According to his wife, Elaine Taylor, he died from a blow to the head resulting from a fall. His family released a statement announcing that Plummer had "died peacefully at his home in Connecticut with his wife Elaine Taylor at his side."

External Links[]

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