Durning received the Tony for his work as Big Daddy in the 1990 revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. His many other Broadway credits include The Happy Time, That Championship Season, Inherit the Wind, The Gin Game, and Gore Vidal's The Best Man. His most recent New York stage appearance was in the Lincoln Center production of Wendy Wasserstein's Third.
Durning received Academy Award nominations for his performances in Mel Brooks' To Be or Not To Be and the film version of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. He received the first of his eight Emmy Award nominations for playing Al in the TV film Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, and another for his role as Charley in the PBS production of Death of a Salesman.