Legendary stage, screen actor played leading role in selecting stamp celebrating his 70-year career
Canada Post today paid tribute to one of the world’s most distinguished actors, Christopher Plummer, who died earlier this year after an exceptional acting career spanning seven decades.
After appearing on stage before making his film debut in the 1958 drama Stage Struck, the Toronto-born, Québec-raised actor appeared in more than 200 films, TV movies and mini-series. He also performed on stages from Broadway to the Stratford Festival, where he captivated audiences in a long list of impressive leading roles, including Henry V, his debut role for the Ontario theatre in 1956, plus Macbeth and Hamlet to round out a trio of Shakespearean classics. More recently, at the age of 80, he played Prospero in The Tempest, another Shakespeare play.
While Plummer distinguished himself as one of the most accomplished classical stage actors of his time, his film career was no less impressive. From Stage Struck to The Sound of Music – the movie that made him a household name in 1965 – and his final role in Heroes of the Golden Masks (to be posthumously released later this year), Plummer appeared in a diverse range of films. He enjoyed playing unexpected roles—from voicing the obsessive villain Charles Muntz in the 2009 animated film Up to bringing panache to 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country as the Shakespeare-quoting Klingon, General Chang. His popularity grew as he embraced his golden years, winning praise for stand-out performances, including All the Money in the World in 2017 and Knives Out in 2019.
Plummer earned countless awards and honours for his work. He is among a select group – and the only Canadian – to achieve the “triple crown of acting” by taking home two Emmys, two Tonys and an Academy Award, which he won at age 82 for his supporting role in the 2010 film Beginners. He was also appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada.
When Canada Post first approached Plummer in 2019, he was thrilled at the prospect of being featured on a Canadian stamp, the Crown corporation said. He was consulted in the process “from the very beginning and personally approved the stamp design,” according to a statement issued today by Canada Post.
Designed by Stephen Slipp and printed by Toronto’s Colour Innovations, the stamp features illustrations by the U.K.-based artist Oliver Burston (known by his artist name, Spooky Pooka).
It depicts Plummer in several of his most celebrated roles, as chosen by him, including (from left to right):
- King Lear in King Lear;
- Rudyard Kipling in The Man Who Would Be King;
- Prospero in The Tempest;
- Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music; and
- John Barrymore in Barrymore.
The moody, tempestuous background of the stamp design is symbolic of the drama he brought to the stage and screen. The stamp issue includes a booklet of 10 Permanent domestic-rate stamps, an official first-day cover, a pane of six stamps and a limited-edition framed pane.
OLDEST OSCAR-WINNING ACTOR
Plummer died on Feb. 5 at the age of 91.
Nine years earlier, he became the oldest actor to receive an Oscar for his role in the film Beginners—an honour since taken by Anthony Hopkins earlier this year for his role in The Father.
His star rose following The Sound of Music, which held the distinction as the highest-grossing film of all time for five years after its release.
“Chris was an extraordinary man who deeply loved and respected his profession with great old fashion manners, self-deprecating humour and the music of words,” Lou Pitt, the late actor’s manager and long-time friend, said in a statement to CBC News following Plummer’s death. “He was a national treasure who deeply relished his Canadian roots. Through his art and humanity, he touched all of our hearts and his legendary life will endure for all generations to come. He will forever be with us.”