Charles Durning (1923-2012) was a veteran character actor who played the villainous Doc Hopper in The Muppet Movie. Durning fought during World War II, and after the war, sang and danced in nightclubs, with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, and taught at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio. His dance experience was evident in his turn as the Governor of Texas in the film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, dancing a two-step.
He also made a brief appearance in the 1979 special The Muppets Go Hollywood, aired as a promotion for The Muppet Movie. In contrast to his Doc Hopper role, and referencing his experience as a hoofer, he dances with Miss Piggy, who must discourage a persistent Christopher Reeve from cutting in.
Charles Durning died at his home in New York City on Monday, December 24, 2012 of natural causes.
- Durning was on the short list of actors that Jim Henson considered for the role of Mike Tarkanian in The Great Muppet Caper.