Walter Matthau (/ˈmæθaʊ/; born Walter John Matthow; October 1, 1920 – July 1, 2000) was an American actor and comedian, best known for his film roles, including as Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple, based on the play of the same title by playwright Neil Simon, in which he also appeared on broadway theatre, and notably, opposite Audrey Hepburn in Charade. He also appeared in the less successful Odd Couple film sequel some 30 years later, The Odd Couple II. Matthau was known for his frequent collaborations with Odd Couple co-star Jack Lemmon, particularly in the 1990s with Grumpy Old Men and its sequel Grumpier Old Men. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the 1966 Billy Wilder film The Fortune Cookie. Besides the Oscar, he was the winner of BAFTA, Golden Globe and Tony awards.
Matthau in 1952
Walter John Matthow
October 1, 1920
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||July 1, 2000 (aged 79)|
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery|
|The Odd Couple|
The Bad News Bears
The Fortune Cookie
Grumpy Old Men
Dennis the Menace
|Height||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Children||3, including Charles Matthau|
|Awards||Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Tony Award, Golden Globe Award|
|Service/||United States Army Air Force|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
His mother, Rose (née Berolsky), was a Lithuanian-Jewish immigrant who worked in a garment sweatshop, and his father, Milton Matthow, was a Ukrainian-Jewish peddler and electrician, from Kiev, Ukraine. As part of a lifelong love of practical jokes, Matthau created the rumors that his middle name was Foghorn and his last name was originally Matuschanskayasky (under which he is credited for a cameo role in the film Earthquake).
As a young boy, Matthau attended a Jewish non-profit sleepaway camp, Tranquillity Camp, where he first began acting in the shows the camp would stage on Saturday nights. He also attended Surprise Lake Camp. His high school was Seward Park High School. He worked for a short time as a concession stand cashier in the Yiddish Theatre District.
During World War II, Matthau saw active service as a radioman-gunner in the U.S. Army Air Forces with the Eighth Air Force in Great Britain, crewing a Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber. He was with the same 453rd Bombardment Group as James Stewart. While based in England at RAF Old Buckenham, in Norfolk he flew missions across to continental Europe during the Battle of the Bulge. He ended the war with the rank of Staff Sergeant, and returned home to America for demobilization at the war's end intent on pursuing a career as an actor.
Matthau was trained in acting at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School with German director Erwin Piscator. He often joked that his best early review came in a play where he posed as a derelict. One reviewer said, "The others just looked like actors in make-up, Walter Matthau really looks like a skid row bum!" Matthau was a respected stage actor for years in such fare as Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? and A Shot in the Dark. He won the 1962 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a play.
Matthau appeared in the pilot of Mister Peepers (1952) with Wally Cox. For reasons unknown he used the name Leonard Elliot. His role was of the gym teacher Mr. Wall. He made his motion picture debut as a whip-wielding bad guy in The Kentuckian (1955) opposite Burt Lancaster. He played a villain in King Creole (1958), in which he gets beaten up by Elvis Presley. Around the same time, he made Ride a Crooked Trail with Audie Murphy, and Onionhead (both 1958) starring Andy Griffith; the latter was a flop. Matthau had a featured role opposite Griffith in the well received drama A Face in the Crowd (1957), directed by Elia Kazan. Matthau also directed a low-budget movie called The Gangster Story (1960) and was a sympathetic sheriff in Lonely Are the Brave (1962), which starred Kirk Douglas. He appeared opposite Audrey Hepburn in Charade (1963).
Appearances on television were common too, including two on Naked City, as well as an episode of The Eleventh Hour ("A Tumble from a Tall White House", 1963). He appeared eight times between 1962 and 1964 on The DuPont Show of the Week and as Franklin Gaer in an episode of Dr. Kildare ("Man Is a Rock", 1964). Additionally he featured in the syndicated crime drama Tallahassee 7000, as a Florida-based state police investigator (1961–62).
Comedies were rare in Matthau's work at that time. He was cast in a number of stark dramas, such as Fail Safe (1964), in which he portrayed Pentagon adviser Dr. Groeteschele, who urges an all-out nuclear attack on the Soviet Union in response to an accidental transmission of an attack signal to U.S. Air Force bombers. Neil Simon cast him in the play The Odd Couple in 1965, with Matthau playing slovenly sportswriter Oscar Madison, opposite Art Carney as Felix Ungar. Matthau later reprised the role in the film version, with Jack Lemmon as Felix Ungar. He played detective Ted Casselle in the Hitchcockian thriller Mirage (1965), directed by Edward Dmytryk.
He achieved great success in the comedy film, The Fortune Cookie (1966), as a shyster lawyer, William H. "Whiplash Willie" Gingrich, starring opposite Lemmon, and the first of many collaborations with Billy Wilder, and a role that would earn him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Filming had to be placed on a five-month hiatus after Matthau had a serious heart attack. He gave up his three pack a day smoking habit as a result. Matthau appeared during the Oscar telecast shortly after having been injured in a bicycle accident; nonetheless, he scolded actors who had not attended the ceremony, especially the other major award winners that night: Paul Scofield, Elizabeth Taylor and Sandy Dennis.
Oscar nominations would come Matthau's way again for Kotch (1971), directed by Lemmon, and The Sunshine Boys (1975), another adaptation of a Neil Simon stage play, this time about a pair of former vaudeville stars. For the latter role he won a Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy.
Broadway hits turned into films continued to cast Matthau in lead roles in Hello, Dolly! and Cactus Flower (both 1969); for the latter film, Goldie Hawn received an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Matthau played three roles in the film version of Simon's Plaza Suite (1971) and was in the cast of its followup California Suite (1978).
Matthau starred in three crime dramas in the mid-1970s, as a detective investigating a mass murder on a bus in The Laughing Policeman (1973), as a bank robber on the run from the Mafia and the law in Charley Varrick (also 1973) and as a New York transit cop in the action-adventure The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974). A change of pace about misfits on a Little League baseball team turned-out to be a solid hit when Matthau starred as coach Morris Buttermaker in the comedy The Bad News Bears (1976). Matthau portrayed Herbert Tucker in I Ought to Be in Pictures (1982), with Ann-Margret and Dinah Manoff.
In a change of pace, Matthau played Albert Einstein in the film I.Q. (1994), starring Tim Robbins and Meg Ryan. Matthau narrated the Doctor Seuss Video Classics: How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1992) and played the role of Mr. Wilson in the film Dennis the Menace (1993).
His partnership with Jack Lemmon became one of the most successful pairings in Hollywood. They became lifelong friends after making The Fortune Cookie and would make a total of 10 movies together—11 counting Kotch, in which Lemmon has a cameo as a sleeping bus passenger. Apart from their many comedies, the two appeared (although they did not share any scenes) in the Oliver Stone drama, JFK (1991). Matthau and Lemmon reunited for the comedy Grumpy Old Men (1993), co-starring Ann-Margret, and its sequel, Grumpier Old Men (1995), also co-starring Sophia Loren. This led to further pairings late in their careers, Out to Sea (1997) and a Simon-scripted sequel to their much earlier success, The Odd Couple II (1998).
Matthau was married twice; first to Grace Geraldine Johnson from 1948 to 1958, and then to Carol Marcus from 1959 until he died in 2000. He had two children, Jenny and David, by his first wife, and a son, Charlie Matthau, with his second wife. David is a radio news reporter, currently at WKXW "New Jersey 101.5" in Trenton, New Jersey. Jenny is president of the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City. Matthau also helped raise his stepchildren, Aram Saroyan and Lucy Saroyan. His grandchildren include William Matthau, an engineer, and Emily Rose Roman, a student at Binghamton University. Charlie Matthau directed his father in The Grass Harp (1995).
A heavy smoker, Matthau had a heart attack in 1966, the first of at least three in his lifetime. In 1976, ten years after his first heart attack, he underwent heart bypass surgery. After working in freezing Minnesota weather for Grumpy Old Men (1993), he was hospitalized for double pneumonia. In December 1995 he had a colon tumor removed; He was also hospitalized in May 1999 for more than two months, owing again to pneumonia.
In addition to colon cancer, Matthau had atherosclerotic heart disease during the last years of his life. In the late evening of June 30, 2000, he had a heart attack at his home and was taken by ambulance to the St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica where he died a few hours later at 1:42 a.m. on July 1, 2000. He was 79 years old. His body was buried in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. Matthau's wife Carol Marcus died in 2003, and her body was interred in the same grave as her husband.
Jack Lemmon along with others of Matthau's friends and relations appeared on Larry King Live in an hour of tribute and remembrance; many of those same people appeared on the show one year later, paying tribute to Lemmon himself who died the following year (and whose body was also buried in Westwood Village Memorial Park).
|1959||Once More, with Feeling!||Best Featured Actor in a Play||Nominated|
|1962||A Shot in the Dark||Won|
|1965||The Odd Couple||Best Actor in a Play||Won|
|1966||The Fortune Cookie||Best Supporting Actor||Won|
|1975||The Sunshine Boys||Nominated|
|1966||The Fortune Cookie||Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy||Nominated|
|1968||The Odd Couple||Nominated|
|1972||Pete 'n' Tillie||Nominated|
|1974||The Front Page||Nominated|
|1975||The Sunshine Boys||Won|
|1981||First Monday in October||Nominated|
|1966||The Fortune Cookie||Best Supporting Actor||Won|
|1966||The Fortune Cookie||Top Male Supporting Performance||Won|
|1969||The Secret Life of an American Wife||Best Actor in a Leading Role||Nominated|
|1973||Pete 'n' Tillie||Won|
|1976||The Sunshine Boys||Nominated|
|The Bad News Bears||Nominated|
|1974||The Front Page||Best Foreign Actor||Won|
|1955||The Kentuckian||Stan Bodine|
|1955||The Indian Fighter||Wes Todd|
|1956||Bigger Than Life||Wally Gibbs|
|1957||A Face in the Crowd||Mel Miller|
|1957||Slaughter on Tenth Avenue||Al Dahlke|
|1958||King Creole||Maxie Fields|
|1958||Voice in the Mirror||Dr. Leon Karnes|
|1958||Ride a Crooked Trail||Judge Kyle|
|1960||Gangster Story||Jack Martin||Also director|
|1960||Strangers When We Meet||Felix Anders|
|1962||Lonely Are the Brave||Sheriff Morey Johnson|
|1962||Who's Got the Action?||Tony Gagouts|
|1963||Charade||Carson Dyle aka Hamilton Bartholomew|
|1963||Island of Love||Tony Dallas|
|1964||Fail Safe||Professor Groeteschele|
|1964||Goodbye Charlie||Sir Leopold Sartori|
|1966||The Fortune Cookie||William H. "Whiplash Willie" Gingrich||Co-starred with Jack Lemmon|
|1967||A Guide for the Married Man||Paul Manning|
|1968||The Odd Couple||Oscar Madison||Co-starred with Jack Lemmon|
|1968||The Secret Life of an American Wife||The Movie Star|
|1969||Cactus Flower||Dr. Julian Winston|
|1969||Hello, Dolly!||Horace Vandergelder|
|1971||A New Leaf||Henry Graham|
|1971||Plaza Suite||Sam Nash /Jesse Kiplinger / Roy Hubley|
|1971||Kotch||Joseph P. Kotcher||Directed by Jack Lemmon|
|1972||Pete 'n' Tillie||Pete Seltzer|
|1973||Charley Varrick||Charley Varrick|
|1973||The Laughing Policeman||Detective Sergeant Jake Martin|
|1974||The Taking of Pelham One Two Three||Lieutenant Zachary Garber|
|1974||Earthquake||Drunk||Credited as Walter Matuschanskayasky|
|1974||The Front Page||Walter Burns||Co-starred with Jack Lemmon|
|1975||The Lion Roars Again||Himself||Short subject|
|1975||The Gentleman Tramp||Narrator||Documentary|
|1975||The Sunshine Boys||Willy Clark|
|1976||The Bad News Bears||Coach Morris Buttermaker|
|1978||Casey's Shadow||Lloyd Bourdelle|
|1978||House Calls||Dr. Charles "Charley" Nichols|
|1978||California Suite||Marvin Michaels|
|1980||La polizia ha le mani legate||Documentary|
|1980||Little Miss Marker||Sorrowful Jones|
|1981||First Monday in October||Associate Justice Daniel Snow|
|1981||Buddy Buddy||Trabucco||Co-starred with Jack Lemmon|
|1982||Neil Simon's I Ought to Be in Pictures||Herbert Tucker|
|1983||The Survivors||Sonny Paluso|
|1985||Movers & Shakers||Joe Mulholland|
|1986||Pirates||Captain Thomas Bartholomew Red|
|1988||The Couch Trip||Donald Becker|
|1988||The Little Devil||Father Maurice|
|1989||The Hotel Night||Franklin|
|1991||JFK||Senator Russell B. Long||Co-starred with Jack Lemmon|
|1992||Beyond 'JFK': The Question of Conspiracy||Documentary|
|1992||Dr. Seuss Video Classics: How the Grinch Stole Christmas!||Narrator|
|1993||Dennis the Menace||George Wilson|
|1993||Grumpy Old Men||Max Goldman||Co-starred with Jack Lemmon|
|1995||The Grass Harp||Judge Charlie Cool||Co-starred with Jack Lemmon|
|1995||Grumpier Old Men||Max Goldman||Co-starred with Jack Lemmon|
|1996||I'm Not Rappaport||Nat Moyer|
|1997||Out to Sea||Charlie Gordon||Co-starred with Jack Lemmon|
|1998||The Odd Couple II||Oscar Madison||Co-starred with Jack Lemmon|
|1998||Love After Death||Frank Walsh|
|1998||The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg||Himself||Documentary|
|2000||Hanging Up||Lou Mozell||(final film role)|
|1948||Anne of the Thousand Days|
|1951||Twilight Walk||Sam Dundee|
|1952||Fancy Meeting You Again||Sinclair Heybore|
|1952||One Bright Day||George Lawrence|
|1952||In Any Language||Charlie Hill|
|1952||The Grey-Eyed People||John Hart|
|1953||The Ladies of the Corridor||Paul Osgood|
|1953||The Burning Glass||Tony Lack|
|1955||Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?||Michael Freeman|
|1955||Guys and Dolls||Nathan Detroit|
|1958||Once More, with Feeling!||Maxwell Archer|
|1961||Once There Was a Russian||Potemkin|
|1961||A Shot in the Dark||Benjamin Beaurevers|
|1963||My Mother, My Father and Me||Herman Halpern|
|1965||The Odd Couple||Oscar Madison|
|1954||The Motorola Television Hour||Episode: "Atomic Attack"|
|1958||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Episode: "The Crooked Road"|
|1959||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Episode: "Dry Run"|
|1960||Juno and the Paycock|
|1961||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Episode: "Cop for a Day"|
|1961||Route 66||Episode: "Eleven, the Hard Way"|
|1961||Tallahassee 7000||Cast member|
|1961–1962||Target: The Corruptors!||Martin 'Books' Kramer, Michael Callahan||1x01 The Million Dollar Dump, 1x16 One for the Road|
|1965||Profiles in Courage||Andrew Johnson||Episode: "Andrew Johnson"|
|1972||Awake and Sing!||Moe Axelrod|
|1978||Saturday Night Live||Host||Season 4, Episode 7 (2 December 1978)|
|1978||The Stingiest Man in Town||Ebenezer Scrooge||Voice role|
|1989||The Hotel Night||Franklin|
|1990||The Incident||Harmon J. Cobb|
|1991||Mrs. Lambert Remembers Love|
|1992||Against Her Will: An Incident in Baltimore||Harmon J. Cobb|
|1994||Incident in a Small Town||Harmon J. Cobb|
|1998||The Marriage Fool|
Charles "Charlie" Matthau (born December 10, 1962) is a film and television director and actor and the son of actor Walter Matthau and actress/author Carol Saroyan.Danger (TV series)
Danger is a television series which first aired on September 19, 1950, and ended in May 1955. The first episode, entitled "The Black Door", was directed by Yul Brynner, based on a story by Henry Norton and a teleplay by Irving Elman, and starring Dane Clark and Olive Deering.
The show featured many actors including Leslie Nielsen, E.G. Marshall, Joseph Anthony, Edward Binns, John Cassavetes, Míriam Colón, Ben Gazzara, Grace Kelly, Richard Kiley, Walter Slezak, Hildy Parks, James Gregory, Paul Langton, Cloris Leachman, Jayne Meadows, Martin Ritt, Maria Riva, Lee Grant, Kim Stanley, Rod Steiger, Steve Allen, Anne Bancroft, Jacqueline Susann, Walter Matthau, and Leo Penn.
The final episode, on May 31, 1955, was an adaptation of the Daphne Du Maurier story "The Birds" with Michael Strong and Betty Lou Holland.Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
The Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy is an award presented annually by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. It is given in honor of an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance in a leading role in a musical or comedy film. Previously, there was a single award for "Best Actor in a Motion Picture", but the creation of the category in 1951 allowed for recognition of it and the Best Actor – Drama.
The formal title has varied since its inception. In 2006, it was officially called: "Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy". As of 2013, the wording is "Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy".Grumpy Old Men (film)
Grumpy Old Men is a 1993 American romantic comedy film starring Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau and Ann-Margret, with Burgess Meredith, Daryl Hannah, Kevin Pollak, Ossie Davis and Buck Henry. Directed by Donald Petrie, the screenplay was written by Mark Steven Johnson, who also wrote the sequel, Grumpier Old Men (1995).
The original music score was composed by Alan Silvestri. This was the sixth film starring both Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, and their first on screen pairing since 1981's Buddy Buddy. It was released on December 25, 1993.Hello, Dolly! (soundtrack)
Hello, Dolly! is the soundtrack album to the 1969 musical film of the same name, performed by Barbra Streisand, Walter Matthau and Michael Crawford. Released on the vinyl album by 20th Century Fox Records, the soundtrack was subsequently released in compact disc by Philips. This album marks the second time Streisand recorded an album for a label different from Columbia, just 5 years after Funny Girl (Original Broadway Cast Recording).Island of Love (1963 film)
Island of Love is a 1963 American comedy film directed by Morton DaCosta and written by David R. Schwartz. The film stars Robert Preston, Tony Randall, Giorgia Moll, Walter Matthau, Betty Bruce and Vassili Lambrinos. The film was released by Warner Bros. on June 12, 1963.Kotch
Kotch is a 1971 American comedy-drama film directed by Jack Lemmon and starring Walter Matthau, Deborah Winters, Felicia Farr, Charles Aidman, and Ellen Geer.
Adapted by John Paxton from the 1965 novel of the same name by Katharine Topkins, the film tells the story of an elderly man who runs away so as not to be put into a nursing home, and strikes up a friendship with a pregnant teenaged girl. It was Lemmon's only film behind the camera and partnered him with friend and frequent costar Matthau.
Portions of the film were shot and set in Palm Springs, California.Pete 'n' Tillie
Pete 'n' Tillie is a 1972 American comedy-drama film directed by Martin Ritt and starring Walter Matthau and Carol Burnett. Its advertising tagline was: "Honeymoon's over. It's time to get married."
Screenwriter Julius J. Epstein was nominated for an Academy Award for adapting the story from the novella Witch's Milk by Peter De Vries. Epstein later adapted another De Vries novel for the film Reuben, Reuben.Plaza Suite (film)
Plaza Suite is a 1971 American comedy film directed by Arthur Hiller. The screenplay by Neil Simon is based on his 1968 play of the same title. The film stars Walter Matthau, Maureen Stapleton, Barbara Harris and Lee Grant.Ride a Crooked Trail
Ride a Crooked Trail is a 1958 American Eastmancolor Western film shot in CinemaScope, with former World War II hero Audie Murphy and future Academy Award winning actor Walter Matthau heading a strong if not well-known cast.Gia Scala and Henry Silva co-star in the film, directed by Jesse Hibbs.Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (film)
Slaughter on Tenth Avenue is a 1957 American film noir crime film directed by Arnold Laven and starring Richard Egan, Jan Sterling, Dan Duryea, Julie Adams, Walter Matthau, Charles McGraw and Sam Levene.The film is a story of crime on New York's waterfront. It is based on the non-fiction book The Man Who Rocked the Boat, an autobiography by William Keating, played by Egan in the film. The book chronicles Keating's experiences as an assistant district attorney and as counsel to the New York City Anti-crime Committee. In the portion of the book depicted in the film, Keating pursued a murder prosecution for a waterfront hit despite widespread corruption that stretched all the way into the district attorney's office.
The title comes from the Richard Rodgers ballet of the same name, which was featured in the 1936 play On Your Toes. The plot line of the movie has no relation to the play, but the composition by Rodgers is indeed heard in the film, in an adaptation by Herschel Burke Gilbert (under the direction of music supervisor Joseph Gershenson) that was praised as "magnificent."The was one of the first major film roles performed by Walter Matthau before he became a star. Here he plays a waterfront gang boss.Tallahassee 7000
Tallahassee 7000 is a 1961 American TV series starring Walter Matthau Special Agent Lex Rogers of the Florida Sheriff's Bureau. It consisted of 26 episodes of 30 minutes each. It was executive produced by Herbert Leonard.
It was shot on location in Florida and was made directly for syndication.The Couch Trip
The Couch Trip is a 1988 American comedy film directed by Michael Ritchie. It stars Dan Aykroyd, Walter Matthau, Charles Grodin and Donna Dixon.The Fortune Cookie
The Fortune Cookie (alternative UK title: Meet Whiplash Willie) is a 1966 black comedy film starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in their first on-screen collaboration. It was produced and directed by Billy Wilder from a script by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond.The Incident (1990 film)
The Incident is a 1990 American made-for-television drama film directed by Joseph Sargent and starring Walter Matthau and Harry Morgan which was originally broadcast on CBS on March 4, 1990. The film marked Matthau's return to television after over 20 years.The film was followed by two sequels: Against Her Will: An Incident in Baltimore (1992) and Incident in a Small Town (1994).The Indian Fighter
The Indian Fighter is a 1955 American CinemaScope and Technicolor Western film directed by Andre DeToth and based upon an original story by Robert L. Richards. The film was the first of star Kirk Douglas's Bryna Productions that was released through United Artists. The film co-stars Elsa Martinelli, Walter Matthau, Lon Chaney, Jr. and Kirk Douglas's ex-wife Diana Douglas.The Laughing Policeman (film)
The Laughing Policeman (1973) is an American police procedural film loosely based on the novel The Laughing Policeman by Sjöwall and Wahlöö. The setting of the story is transplanted from Stockholm to San Francisco. It was directed by Stuart Rosenberg and features Walter Matthau as Detective Jake Martin.The Odd Couple (film)
The Odd Couple is a 1968 American comedy Technicolor film in Panavision, written by Neil Simon, based on his play of the same name, produced by Howard W. Koch and directed by Gene Saks, and starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. It is the story of two divorced men - neurotic neat-freak Felix Ungar and fun-loving slob Oscar Madison - who decide to live together, even though their personalities clash.
The film was successful with critics and audiences, grossing over $44.5 million, making it the fourth highest-grossing picture of 1968. The success of the film was the basis for the ABC television sitcom of the same name, starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman as Felix and Oscar.Who's Got the Action?
Who's Got the Action? is a 1962 American comedy film about a man suffering from an addiction to gambling starring Dean Martin, Lana Turner, Eddie Albert, and Walter Matthau. The film was written by Alexander Rose and Jack Rose, and directed by Daniel Mann.