On This Day … 24 December [2022]

People (Births)

  • 1928 – Norman Rossington, English actor (d. 1999).

People (Deaths)

  • 1997 – Toshiro Mifune, Chinese-Japanese actor and producer (b. 1920).
  • 2012 – Charles Durning, American soldier and actor (b. 1923).

Norman Rossington

Norman Rossington (24 December 1928 to 21 May 1999) was an English actor best remembered for his roles in The Army Game (1957-1961), as Private Cupcake Cook, the Carry On films and the Beatles’ film A Hard Day’s Night.

His first film role was in the 1956 film Three Men in a Boat. Rossington went on to appear in Carry On Sergeant (1958), the first Carry On film. In 1962 Rossington played the uncredited role of Corporal Jenkins in Lawrence of Arabia, and later appeared in The Longest Day (1962). In 1972, he appeared in Young Winston. His final appearances before his death were Heartbeat in 1996, Sharpe’s Regiment as Sergeant Horatio Havercamp, also in 1996, and What’s a Carry On? in 1998.

He also starred in The League of Gentlemen (1960) as Staff Sergeant Hall (uncredited), Joey Boy (1965) as Royal Army Corporal (uncredited), Tobruk (1967) as Private Alfie Braithwaite, The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968) as S.M. Corbett, The Adventures of Gerard (1970) as Sergeant Papilette (Hussars of Conflans), and I, Claudius (1976) as Sergeant of the Guard.

Toshiro Mifune

Toshiro Mifune (三船敏郎, Mifune Toshirō, 01 April 1920 to 24 December 1997) was a Japanese actor who appeared in over 150 feature films. He is best known for his 16-film collaboration (1948-1965) with Akira Kurosawa in such works as Rashomon, Seven Samurai, The Hidden Fortress (1958), Throne of Blood, and Yojimbo. He also portrayed Miyamoto Musashi in Hiroshi Inagaki’s Samurai Trilogy and one earlier Inagaki film, Lord Toranaga in the NBC television miniseries Shōgun (1980), and Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto in three different films.

Charles Durning

Charles Edward Durning (28 February 1923 to 24 December 2012) was an American actor who appeared in over 200 movies, television shows and plays. Durning’s best-known films include The Sting (1973), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), The Muppet Movie (1979), True Confessions (1981), Tootsie (1982), Dick Tracy (1990), and O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000). He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for both The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982) and To Be or Not to Be (1983). Prior to his acting career, Durning served in World War II and was decorated for valour in combat.

Military Service

Durning served in the US Army during World War II. He was drafted at age 20. On June 6, 1944, Durning was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division and was in one of the first waves of American troops that landed on Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion of Normandy. After being wounded by a German anti-personnel mine in the Bocage, he spent six months recovering. Durning was reassigned to the 398th Infantry Regiment with the 100th Infantry Division, and participated in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. He was discharged with the rank of private first class on 30 January 1946.

For his valour and the wounds he received during the war, Durning was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts. Additional awards included the Army Good Conduct Medal, the American Campaign Medal and the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Arrowhead device and two bronze service stars, and the World War II Victory Medal. His badges included the Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Badge with Rifle Bar, and Honourable Service Lapel Pin.

Durning received the French National Order of the Legion of Honour from the French Consul in Los Angeles in April 2008.

Veteran Groups and Spokesman

Durning participated in various functions to honour American veterans, including serving as Chairman of the US National Salute to Hospitalised Veterans. He was an honoured guest speaker for 17 years at the National Memorial Day Concert televised by PBS every year on the Sunday evening of Memorial Day weekend.

Durning was paid a special tribute at the 26 May 2013, National Memorial Day Concert when “Taps” was sounded in his honour.

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