Walter Matthau

Biography

Date of Birth 1 October 1920, New York City, New York, USA Date of Death 1 July 2000, Santa Monica, California, USA (heart attack) Birth Name Walter John Matthow Height 6' 3" (1.91 m) Mini Biography Born Walter Matthow on October 1, 1920, to a pair of Russian-Jewish immigrants in New York City, Matthau grew up poor on the Lower East Side and started out selling soft drinks and playing bit parts at a Yiddish theater at age 11. He was paid 50 cents for each of his occasional on-stage appearances. His father, a peddler from Kiev, left home when he was 3 years old. He lived with his older brother, Henry, and their mother, a garment worker, on the Lower East Side of New York. After graduating from Seward Park High School during the Depression, he took government jobs as a forester in Montana, a gym instructor for the Works Progress Administration and a boxing coach for policemen. During World War II, he served in the Army Air Corps as a radio cryptographer in a heavy bomber unit in Europe and returned home a sergeant with six battle stars. In 1948, his first Broadway role was when he was hired as an understudy for the role of an 83 year old English bishop in 'Anne of the Thousand Days' starring Rex Harrison. His fame came with The Fortune Cookie (1966) and The Odd Couple (1968). While making the former, he suffered a serious heart attack. This was due to heavy smoking and chronic gambling. Matthau immediately quit smoking and began a life-long regime of walking 2-5 miles per day. Unbeknownst to his fans, Matthau continued to battle heart disease and was later diagnosed with two forms of cancer. In 1976, he had heart bypass surgery. In 1993, he was hospitalized for double pneumonia. In 1995, he had a benign colon tumor removed. In 1999, he was hospitalized again for pneumonia. Matthau died on July 1, 2000. He was seventy-nine. Spouse Carol Grace (21 August 1959 - 1 July 2000) (his death) 1 child Grace Geraldine Johnson (1948 - 1958) (divorced) 2 children Trivia Big break came when understudying the actor who played the Archbishop in "Anne Of The Thousand Days," starring Rex Harrison. Brought to the St. John's Health Center after suffering a heart attack by ambulance and was pronounced dead shortly afterward at 1:42 a.m. Buried at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park. Marilyn Monroe, Truman Capote, Natalie Wood, Donna Reed, among other stars are buried at this cemetery. People were never sure if he was joking or saying things seriously, either on-screen or out-screen. He hated to be identified as a comedic actor. He once claimed that his father was an Orthodox priest in the Czarist Russia, who was removed after he claimed that the Pope was infallible. Once claimed that his wife's name was Carol Wellington-Smythe Marcus, just to give it a more "aristocratic" sound. When he inscribed himself formally to the U.S. Social Security in 1937, he included "Foghorn" as his middle name. He never changed it. Studied in the dramatic workshop at New York's New School with Gene Saks, Rod Steiger, Harry Guardino and Tony Curtis. Served in the Army Air Corps with James Stewart. He once estimated his lifetime gambling losses at $5 million. While making a TV series in Florida before his movie stardom, he lost $183,000 betting on spring-training baseball games. After filming Grumpy Old Men (1993) in 1993 in freezing weather in Minnesota, he was hospitalized for double pneumonia. Uncle of Juliette Gruber. Reports are that he made up "Matuschanskayasky" as a joke and that his real "real" name is Matthow. The existence of Michelle Matthow would seem to confirm this... According to his son, Charlie Matthau, on "Larry King Live" (1985), July 14, 2000, his real name was Walter Matthow, and he changed it to be more exotic. The name Walter Matuschanskayasky was one he made up to retaliate for being "tricked" into appearing in the movie Earthquake (1974) with a much larger part than he expected. Was passionate about classical music and often sang pieces by Mozart on the set. Two children, Jenny (b. 2 August 1956) and David (b. 2 November 1953), by his first wife, Grace Geraldine Johnson, and a son, Charles Matthau (b. 10 December 1962), by his second wife, Carol Marcus. Step-father of Lucy Saroyan. Very tall as young man, Matthau had a very slouchy posture by the time he was an actor. This was in part due to injuries attained in combat in WWII, but he probably exaggerated it because the slouch fitted his miserly characters. Dan Castellaneta has said that his original voice for Homer Simpson was simply an impression of Matthau. Won two Tony Awards: in 1962, as Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Dramatic) for "A Shot in the Dark," and in 1965 as Best Actor (Dramatic) for "The Odd Couple," recreating his part as Oscar Madison in the film version of the same name, The Odd Couple (1968). Previously, he also had a Tony nomination in 1959 as Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Dramatic) for "Once More, with Feeling." Dealt with a gambling addiction his entire adult life. He and Jack Lemmon acted together in 10 movies: Buddy Buddy (1981), The Fortune Cookie (1966), The Front Page (1974), The Grass Harp (1995), Grumpier Old Men (1995), Grumpy Old Men (1993), JFK (1991), The Odd Couple II (1998), The Odd Couple (1968) and Out to Sea (1997). Lemmon also directed Matthau in Kotch (1971). Screen-tested for the part of Richard Sherman in The Seven Year Itch (1955). After seeing his test, director Billy Wilder believed he had found his leading man. Unfortunately 20th Century Fox were unwilling to take a risk on an unknown newcomer. Because of this the role went to Tom Ewell, who had originated the role on Broadway. Appeared in Ensign Pulver (1964), the sequel to Mister Roberts (1955), for which his friend Jack Lemmon won an Oscar. Personal Quotes "I think doing comedy is more difficult ... than doing noncomedic or tragic or whatever you want to call it. "Because it's difficult to make all kinds of different audiences understand what you're doing, and moving you to laughter." "I never mind my wife having the last word. In fact, I'm delighted when she gets to it." "Every actor looks all his life for a part that will combine his talents with his personality. The Odd Couple (1968) was mine. That was the plutonium I needed. It all started happening after that." "I always had one ear offstage, listening for the call from the bookie." "The first girl you go to bed with is always pretty." "'Get out of show business.' It's the best advice I ever got, because I'm so stubborn that if someone would tell me that, I would stay in it to the bitter end." "To be successful in show business, all you need are 50 good breaks." I'd love to work with Barbra Streisand again. In something appropriate. Perhaps, Macbeth. "He [Elvis Presley] was an instinctive actor...He was quite bright...he was very intelligent...He was not a punk. He was very elegant, sedate, and refined, and sophisticated." A lot of parts I want they give to Robert Redford. [on Glenda Jackson] She's an absolute dreamboat, the epitome of professionalism, a splendid actress, and she has all the make-up of a fully rounded person.

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Birth Name

Walter John Matthow

Birth Place

Nueva York, Nueva York, Estados Unidos

Birth Date

10/1/1920

Death Date

7/1/2000
Known For
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Grumpier Old Men

Max Goldman

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Grumpy Old Men

Max Goldman

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Dennis the Menace

Mr. George Wilson

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The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three

Lt. Garber

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Bad News Bears

Coach Morris Buttermaker

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Hello, Dolly!

Horace Vandergelder

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Charley Varrick

Charley Varrick

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Pirates

Captain Thomas Bartholomew Red

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I.Q.

Albert Einstein

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The Front Page

Walter Burns

Starring In
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Fonda - Anatomie eines Hollywood-Clans

Self (archive footage) (uncredited)

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And the Oscar Goes To...

Himself (archive footage)

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The Last Mogul

Himself (archive footage)

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Sex at 24 Frames Per Second

Self (archive footage)

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Oscarverleihung 2001

Himself (Memorial Tribute) (archive footage)

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Hanging Up

Lou Mozell

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The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg

Himself - interviewee

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The Odd Couple II

Oscar Madison

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The Marriage Fool

Frank Walsh

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Out to Sea

Charlie Gordon

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Casey's Shadow

Lloyd Bourdelle

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The Grass Harp

Judge Charlie Cool

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I'm Not Rappaport

Nat Moyer

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Grumpier Old Men

Max Goldman

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The first 100 Years of Cinema

Himself

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I.Q.

Albert Einstein

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Grumpy Old Men

Max Goldman

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Dennis the Menace

Mr. George Wilson

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Chaplin

Himself - Oscar Sequence (archive footage) (uncredited)

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Walter Matthau Version) / If I Ran the Zoo

Narrator (voice)

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JFK

Senator Long

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Mrs. Lambert Remembers Love

Clifford Pepperman

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The Incident

Harmon Cobb

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Il piccolo diavolo

Maurice

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The Couch Trip

Donald Becker

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James Stewart: A Wonderful Life

Himself

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Pirates

Captain Thomas Bartholomew Red

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Barbra Streisand- One Voice

Himself - Audience Member (uncredited)

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Movers & Shakers

Joe Mulholland

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The Survivors

Sonny Paluso

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I Ought to Be in Pictures

Herbert Tucker

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Buddy Buddy

Trabucco

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First Monday in October

Dan Snow

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Hopscotch

Miles Kendig / James Butler / Mr. Hannaway / Leonard Ross

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Little Miss Marker

Sorrowful Jones

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House Calls

Dr. Charley Nichols

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The Stingiest Man in Town

Ebenezer Scrooge

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California Suite

Marvin Michaels

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Bad News Bears

Coach Morris Buttermaker

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The Sunshine Boys

Willy Clark

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The Front Page

Walter Burns

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The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three

Lt. Garber

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Earthquake

Drunk (as Walter Matuschanskayasky)

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The Laughing Policeman

Sgt. Jake Martin SFPD

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Charley Varrick

Charley Varrick

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Kotch

Joseph P. Kotcher

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Plaza Suite

Roy Hubley / Jesse Kiplinger / Sam Nash

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A New Leaf

Henry Graham

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Hello, Dolly!

Horace Vandergelder

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Cactus Flower

Dr. Julian Winston

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Candy

Gen. R.A. Smight

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The Odd Couple

Oscar Madison

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A Guide for the Married Man

Paul Manning

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The Fortune Cookie

Willie Gingrich

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Mirage

Ted Caselle

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Goodbye Charlie

Sir Leopold Sartori

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Ensign Pulver

Doc

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Fail Safe

Dr. Groeteschele

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Charade

Hamilton Bartholomew

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Island of Love

Tony Dallas

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Who's Got The Action?

Tony Gagouts

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Lonely are the Brave

Sheriff Morey Johnson

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Strangers When We Meet

Felix Anders

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Onionhead

'Red' Wildoe

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King Creole

Maxie Fields

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Voice in the Mirror

Dr. Leon Karnes

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Ride a Crooked Trail

Judge Kyle

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A Face in the Crowd

Mel Miller

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Slaughter on 10th Avenue

Al Dahlke

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Bigger Than Life

Wally Gibbs

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The Kentuckian

Stan Bodine

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The Indian Fighter

Wes Todd

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The Echo Murders

Clifford Pepperman

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The Mob: Gangster Story/Hit Lady/Family Enforcer

Jack Martin

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Un Marito per Tillie

Pete

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