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Dec. 25, 2012 at 2:03 PM
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Character actor Charles Durning dead at 89

NEW YORK, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- Tony-winning actor Charles Durning has died of natural causes in New York, his longtime agent, Judith Moss, said. He was 89.

Though not a household name, Durning appeared in numerous theater productions, movies and television films, and was nominated for a supporting actor for "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" and "To Be or Not to Be," The New York Times said.

He was the crooked police officer in the 1973 movie "The Sting," a dedicated assistant football coach in "North Dallas Forty," and a corrupt municipal power broker in "True Confessions."

He could play gruff, funny, combative or gentle, the newspaper said.

Durning had numerous television credits and received nine Emmy nominations but never won.

He appeared as a regular on "Evening Shade," a 1990 sitcom starring Burt Reynolds, "First Monday," a 2002 court drama, and had recurring roles on the sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond" and firefighter series "Rescue Me" to name a few.

In the 1990 Broadway revival of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," he played Big Daddy, the bullying, dying plantation owner. His performance won him a Tony Award for best featured actor.

In 1972, he appeared in "That Champion Season," and later appeared in "Boom Boom Room," "Au Pair Man," and "Knock Knock."

Durning was born into poverty in the Hudson River village of Highland Falls, N.Y., the ninth of 10 children. He dropped out of school and worked in a number of menial jobs and at the start of World War II enlisted in the Army.

He was awarded a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts for valor and saw combat action at Omaha Beach on D-Day, and the Battle of the Bulge. He suffered gunshot and shrapnel wounds and spent months in hospitals where he also was treated for psychological trauma. In 2008, France awarded him the National Order of the Legion of Honor.

Durning said in a number of interviews his battle experiences never left him, even when he played someone else, the Times said.

'Odd Couple' star Jack Klugman dead at 90

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- Jack Klugman, star of TV's "The Odd Couple" and "Quincy, M.E.," died Monday at the age of 90, his wife Peggy told KABC-TV, Los Angeles.

Klugman, who also starred in the film "12 Angry Men," was at his home in Northridge when he died, The Hollywood Reporter said.

Klugman's performance on "The Odd Couple" as Oscar Madison -- the sloppy roommate to neurotically fastidious Felix Unger, played by Tony Randall, who died in 2004 -- garnered him two Emmy awards. The iconic show's 114 episodes still are run in syndication today.

His six-decade career also saw stints on Broadway and sporadic appearances in other films, including "Days of Wine and Roses" and "Goodbye, Columbus."

No details were immediately reported on the cause of death. Klugman had parts of his larynx removed in 1989 after being diagnosed with throat cancer.

He leaves behind his wife, two sons and two grandchildren.

Ben Affleck not running for U.S. Senate

WASHINGTON, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- Actor Ben Affleck said via Facebook he will not run for U.S. Senate should Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., vacate his seat to become secretary of state.

"I love Massachusetts and our political process, but I am not running for office," Affleck, 40, posted to Facebook Monday. "We are about to get a great Secretary of State and there are some phenomenal candidates in Massachusetts for his Senate seat. I look forward to an amazing campaign."

Affleck, who grew up in Cambridge, Mass., was the second big-name Democrat to pass Monday on running for Kerry's seat, Politico reported.

Ted Kennedy Jr., the son of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, had earlier said he did not plan to run.

President Barack Obama nominated Kerry Friday to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

Jessica Simpson confirms 2nd pregnancy

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- U.S. singer-actress Jessica Simpson has confirmed she is pregnant with her second child.

Rumors saying Simpson is expecting again have circulated for weeks, but she remained silent until Tuesday, UsMagazine.com reported.

She tweeted a Christmas Day photo of her 7-month-old daughter Maxwell, wearing red and white pajamas and sitting on a beach with "Big Sis" written in the sand.

"Merry Christmas from my family to yours!" Simpson tweeted.

She did not disclose the new baby's gender or anticipated due date.

Simpson, 32, is engaged to former San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints tight end Eric Johnson, 33.

Simpson's hit records include "I Wanna Love You Forever," "Where You Are" and "Heart of Innocence." Her film credits include "Blonde Ambition" and "The Dukes of Hazzard."

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