- Walter Matthau
in Charade (1963)
Born Walter John Matthow
October 1, 1920
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died July 1, 2000(aged 79)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Cause of death Colon cancer Resting place Westwood Village Memorial Park Nationality American Education Seward Park High School Occupation Actor Years active 1948 – 2000 Spouse Grace Geraldine Johnson (1948–58; divorced; 2 children)
Carol Grace (1959–2000; his death; 1 child)
Walter Matthau (October 1, 1920 – July 1, 2000) was an American actor best known for his role as Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple and his frequent collaborations with Odd Couple star Jack Lemmon, as well as his role as Coach Buttermaker in the 1976 comedy The Bad News Bears. He won an Academy Award for his performance in the 1966 Billy Wilder film The Fortune Cookie.
Matthau was born Walter John Matthow in New York City's Lower East Side on October 1, 1920, the son of Rose (née Berolsky; from Lithuania), who worked in a sweatshop, and Milton Matthow, an electrician and peddler (from Russia), both Jewish immigrants. His surname has often incorrectly been listed as Matuschanskayasky (see below for a detailed discussion). As a young boy, Walter 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.
During World War II, Matthau served in the U.S. Army Air Forces with the Eighth Air Force in England as a B-24 Liberator radioman-gunner, in the same 453rd Bombardment Group as James Stewart. He reached the rank of staff sergeant and became interested in acting. He took classes in acting at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York with the influential 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.
In 1952, Matthau appeared in the pilot of Mr. Peepers with Wally Cox. For reasons unknown he used the name Leonard Elliot. His role was of the gym teacher Mr. Wall. In 1955, he made his motion picture debut as a whip-wielding bad guy in The Kentuckian opposite Burt Lancaster.
Matthau appeared as a villain in subsequent movies, such as 1958's King Creole (in which he is beaten up by Elvis Presley). That same year, he made a western called Ride a Crooked Trail with Audie Murphy and Onionhead starring Andy Griffith and Erin O'Brien, which was a flop. Matthau had a featured role opposite Griffith in the well received drama A Face in the Crowd, directed by Elia Kazan. Matthau also directed a low-budget 1960 movie called The Gangster Story. In 1962, he was a sympathetic sheriff in Lonely are the Brave, which starred Kirk Douglas. He appeared opposite Audrey Hepburn in Charade, which also starred Cary Grant.
Appearances on television were common too, including two on ABC's police drama, Naked City, as well as the 1963 episode "A Tumble from a Tall White House" of The Eleventh Hour. He appeared eight times between 1962 and 1964 on The DuPont Show of the Week and as Franklin Gaer in 1964 in the episode "Man Is a Rock" on Dr. Kildare. Lastly, he starred in the syndicated crime drama Tallahassee 7000, as a Florida-based state police investigator, in the 1961-1962 season.
Comedies were rare in Matthau's work at that time. He was cast in a number of stark dramas, such as 1964's Fail-Safe, in which he portrayed a White House adviser during a catastrophic global incident.
In 1965, however, a plum comedy role came Matthau's way when Neil Simon cast him in the hit play The Odd Couple playing the slovenly sportswriter Oscar Madison opposite Art Carney as Felix Unger. Matthau would later join Jack Lemmon in the movie version. Also in 1965, he played detective Ted Casselle in the Hitchcockian thriller Mirage, with Gregory Peck and Diane Baker, a film directed by Edward Dmytryk, based on a novel by Howard Fast.
He achieved great film success in a 1966 comedy as a shyster lawyer called "Whiplash Willie" Gingrich starring opposite Lemmon in The Fortune Cookie, the first of numerous 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 suffered a heart attack.
Matthau was visibly banged up during the Oscar telecast, having been involved in a bicycle accident, nonetheless he scolded actors who had not bothered to come to the ceremony, especially the other major award winners that night: Elizabeth Taylor, Sandy Dennis and Paul Scofield.
Oscar nominations would come Matthau's way again for 1972's Kotch, directed by Lemmon, and 1975's The Sunshine Boys, another Simon vehicle transferred from the stage, this one 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 the leads with 1969's Hello, Dolly! and that same year's Cactus Flower, for which co-star Goldie Hawn received an Oscar. He played three different roles in the 1971 film version of Simon's Plaza Suite and was in the cast of its followup California Suite in 1978.
Matthau starred in three crime dramas in the mid-'70s, as a detective investigating a mass murder on a bus in The Laughing Policeman, as a bank robber on the run from the Mafia and the law in Charley Varrick and as a New York transit cop in the action-adventure The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. A change of pace about misfits on a Little League baseball team turned out to be a solid hit in 1976 when Matthau starred as coach Morris Buttermaker in the comedy The Bad News Bears
In 1982, Matthau portrayed Herbert Tucker in I Ought to Be in Pictures. There he worked with Ann-Margret and Dinah Manoff, the daughter of the actress whom Matthau starred with in Plaza Suite, Lee Grant.
Matthau played Albert Einstein in the film "IQ", also starring Tim Robbins and Meg Ryan.
His partnership with 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. Aside from their many comedies, each appeared (though not on screen together) in the 1991 Oliver Stone drama about the presidential assassination, JFK.
They had a surprise box-office hit in the comedy Grumpy Old Men, reuniting for a sequel, Grumpier Old Men, that co-starred Sophia Loren and Ann-Margret. That led to more pairings late in their careers, notably Out to Sea and a Simon-scripted sequel to one of their great successes, The Odd Couple II. Hanging Up, a 2000 film directed by Diane Keaton, was Matthau's final appearance on screen.
Matthau was married twice; first to Grace Geraldine Johnson (1948–58), and then from 1959 until his death in 2000 to Carol Marcus. He had two children, Jenny and David, by his first wife, and a second 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 SUNY Binghamton. Charlie Matthau directed his father in The Grass Harp (1995).
Matthau died from complications of colon cancer in Santa Monica on July 1, 2000. After undergoing heart surgery some years before, doctors discovered that he had the cancer, which, by the time of his death, had spread to his liver, lungs, and brain. However, on his death certificate the causes of death are listed as cardiac arrest and atherosclerotic heart disease, with ESRD and atrial fibrillation added as "other significant conditions contributing to death but not related to [primary] cause..." His remains are interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Less than a year later, remains of Jack Lemmon (who died of colon and bladder cancer) were buried at the same cemetery. After Matthau's death, Lemmon as well as other friends and relatives had appeared on Larry King Live in an hour of tribute and remembrance; many of those same people appeared on the show one year later, reminiscing about Lemmon.
The remains of actor George C. Scott are also buried next to those of Walter Matthau, in an unmarked grave.
There have been persistent but erroneous beliefs about Matthau's birth name. Among the names that have been incorrectly asserted as having been the name he was born under are Matuschanskayasky, Matashansky and Matansky. As reported by the authors of Matthau: A Life by Rob Edelman and Audrey Kupferberg (along with Charlie Matthau), Walter Matthau often told tall tales. In his youth, he found that the joy of embellishment lifted a story (and the listener) to such enjoyable heights that he could not resist trying to pass off the most bogus of information, just to see who was gullible enough to believe it. Matthau told many stories to many reputable people, including, reportedly, the Social Security Administration. When he registered for a number, he was amazed that they only wanted him to write his name, and offer no proof of his identity. So, as another of his traditional goofs, he wrote that his true name was "Walter Foghorn Matthau". The rumor that his birth name was "Matuschanskayasky" was given additional credence by the release of the 1974 film Earthquake in which Matthau had agreed to provide a cameo performance without compensation on the condition that he not be credited under his real name. His character was credited to Walter Matuschanskayasky. Though this was a jokey pseudonym, its appearance in the film's end credits contributed to the urban legend that this was his real name. As recently as 2009, this erroneous information appeared in the World Almanac section on "Original Names of Selected Entertainers" (p. 278).
- Atomic Attack (1950) (short subject)
- The Kentuckian (1955)
- The Indian Fighter (1955)
- Bigger Than Life (1956)
- A Face in the Crowd (1957)
- Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957)
- King Creole (1958)
- Voice in the Mirror (1958)
- Ride a Crooked Trail (1958)
- Onionhead (1958)
- Gangster Story (1960) (also director)
- Strangers When We Meet (1960)
- Lonely are the Brave (1962)
- Who's Got the Action? (1962)
- Island of Love (1963)
- Charade (1963)
- Ensign Pulver (1964)
- Fail-Safe (1964)
- Goodbye Charlie (1964)
- Mirage (1965)
- The Fortune Cookie (1966)
- A Guide for the Married Man (1967)
- The Odd Couple (1968)
- The Secret Life of an American Wife (1968)
- Candy (1968)
- Hello, Dolly! (1969)
- Cactus Flower (1969)
- A New Leaf (1971)
- Plaza Suite (1971)
- Kotch (1971)
- Pete 'n' Tillie (1972)
- The Laughing Policeman (1973)
- Charley Varrick (1973)
- The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
- Earthquake (1974) (credited as "Walter Matuschanskayasky")
- The Front Page (1974)
- The Lion Roars Again (1975) (short subject)
- The Gentleman Tramp (1975) (documentary)
- The Sunshine Boys (1975)
- The Bad News Bears (1976)
- Casey's Shadow (1978)
- House Calls (1978)
- California Suite (1978)
- Portrait of a 60% Perfect Man (1980) (documentary)
- Little Miss Marker (1980)
- Hopscotch (1980)
- First Monday in October (1981)
- Buddy Buddy (1981)
- I Ought to Be in Pictures (1982)
- The Survivors (1983)
- Movers & Shakers (1985)
- Pirates (1986)
- The Little Devil (1988)
- The Couch Trip (1988)
- JFK (1991) as Senator Russell B. Long
- Beyond 'JFK': The Question of Conspiracy (1992) (documentary)
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1992)
- Dennis the Menace (1993)
- Grumpy Old Men (1993)
- I.Q. (1994)
- The Grass Harp (1995)
- Grumpier Old Men (1995)
- I'm Not Rappaport (1996)
- Out to Sea (1997)
- The Odd Couple II (1998)
- The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (1998) (documentary)
- Hanging Up (2000)
- Anne of the Thousand Days (1948)
- The Liar (1950)
- Twilight Walk (1951)
- Fancy Meeting You Again (1952)
- One Bright Day (1952)
- In Any Language (1952)
- The Grey-Eyed People (1952)
- The Ladies of the Corridor (1953)
- The Burning Glass (1953)
- Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1955)
- Guys and Dolls (1955)
- Once More, with Feeling! (1958)
- Once There Was a Russian (1961)
- A Shot in the Dark (1961)
- My Mother, My Father and Me (1963)
- The Odd Couple (1965)
- Justice (1954)
- Dry Run, episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents series (1959)
- Juno and the Paycock (1960)
- Route 66 (1961)
- Tallahassee 7000 (cast member in 1961)
- Awake and Sing! (1972)
- Actor (1978)
- The Stingiest Man in Town (1978) (voice)
- The Incident (1990)
- Mrs. Lambert Remembers Love (1991)
- Against Her Will: An Incident in Baltimore (1992)
- Incident in a Small Town (1994) as Harmon Cobb
- The Marriage Fool (1998)
- Target: The Corruptors! (1961–1962), two episodes
- ^ Edelman, Rob; Audrey E. Kupferberg (2002). Matthau: a life. Taylor Trade Pub.. pp. 4. ISBN087833274X.
- ^ Wright, Stuart J. (2004). An emotional gauntlet: from life in peacetime America to the war in European skies. Terrace Books. pp. 179. ISBN0299205207.
- ^ New York Times obituary
- ^ Film Reference biodata
- ^ Article on Matthau in the New York Times
- ^ Seward Park High School Alumni Association, history http://www.sewardparkhs.com/famousalumni.php
- Mel Gussow (2 July 2000). "Walter Matthau, 79, Rumpled Star and Comic Icon, Dies". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9800E4D81539F931A35754C0A9669C8B63. Retrieved 2008-05-11.
- Walter Matthau at the Internet Broadway Database
- Walter Matthau at the Internet Movie Database
- Walter Matthau at the TCM Movie Database
Awards for Walter Matthau Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (1961–1980)
George Chakiris (1961) · Ed Begley (1962) · Melvyn Douglas (1963) · Peter Ustinov (1964) · Martin Balsam (1965) · Walter Matthau (1966) · George Kennedy (1967) · Jack Albertson (1968) · Gig Young (1969) · John Mills (1970) · Ben Johnson (1971) · Joel Grey (1972) · John Houseman (1973) · Robert De Niro (1974) · George Burns (1975) · Jason Robards (1976) · Jason Robards (1977) · Christopher Walken (1978) · Melvyn Douglas (1979) · Timothy Hutton (1980)
Complete list · (1936–1940) · (1941–1960) · (1961–1980) · (1981–2000) · (2001–2020) BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role (1960–1979)
Peter Finch British & Jack Lemmon Foreign (1960) · Peter Finch British & Paul Newman Foreign (1961) · Peter O'Toole British & Burt Lancaster Foreign (1962) · Dirk Bogarde British & Marcello Mastroianni Foreign (1963) · Richard Attenborough British & Marcello Mastroianni Foreign (1964) · Dirk Bogarde British & Lee Marvin Foreign (1965) · Richard Burton British & Rod Steiger Foreign (1966) · Paul Scofield British & Rod Steiger Foreign (1967) · Spencer Tracy (1968) · Dustin Hoffman (1969) · Robert Redford (1970) · Peter Finch (1971) · Gene Hackman (1972) · Walter Matthau (1973) · Jack Nicholson (1974) · Al Pacino (1975) · Jack Nicholson (1976) · Peter Finch (1977) · Richard Dreyfuss (1978) · Jack Lemmon (1979)
Complete list · (1952–1959) · (1960–1979) · (1980–1999) · (2000–2019) Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy (1961–1980)
Glenn Ford (1961) · Marcello Mastroianni (1962) · Alberto Sordi (1963) · Rex Harrison (1964) · Lee Marvin (1965) · Alan Arkin (1966) · Richard Harris (1967) · Ron Moody (1968) · Peter O'Toole (1969) · Albert Finney (1970) · Topol (1971) · Jack Lemmon (1972) · George Segal (1973) · Art Carney (1974) · Walter Matthau (1975) · Kris Kristofferson (1976) · Richard Dreyfuss (1977) · Warren Beatty (1978) · Peter Sellers (1979) · Ray Sharkey (1980)
Complete List · (1950–1960) · (1961–1980) · (1981–2000) · (2001–2020) Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play (1949–1975)
Arthur Kennedy (1949) · Eli Wallach (1951) · John Cromwell (1952) · John Williams (1953) · John Kerr (1954) · Francis L. Sullivan (1955) · Ed Begley (1956) · Frank Conroy (1957) · Henry Jones (1958) · Charlie Ruggles (1959) · Roddy McDowall (1960) · Martin Gabel (1961) · Walter Matthau (1962) · Alan Arkin (1963) · Hume Cronyn (1964) · Jack Albertson (1965) · Patrick Magee (1966) · Ian Holm (1967) · James Patterson (1968) · Al Pacino (1969) · Ken Howard (1970) · Paul Sand (1971) · Vincent Gardenia (1972) · John Lithgow (1973) · Ed Flanders (1974) · Frank Langella (1975)
Complete list · (1949–1975) · (1976–2000) · (2001–2025) Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play (1947–1975)
José Ferrer / Fredric March (1947) · Henry Fonda / Paul Kelly / Basil Rathbone (1948) · Rex Harrison (1949) · Sidney Blackmer (1950) · Claude Rains (1951) · José Ferrer (1952) · Tom Ewell (1953) · David Wayne (1954) · Alfred Lunt (1955) · Paul Muni (1956) · Fredric March (1957) · Ralph Bellamy (1958) · Jason Robards, Jr. (1959) · Melvyn Douglas (1960) · Zero Mostel (1961) · Paul Scofield (1962) · Arthur Hill (1963) · Alec Guinness (1964) · Walter Matthau (1965) · Hal Holbrook (1966) · Paul Rogers (1967) · Martin Balsam (1968) · James Earl Jones (1969) · Fritz Weaver (1970) · Brian Bedford (1971) · Cliff Gorman (1972) · Alan Bates (1973) · Michael Moriarty (1974) · John Kani / Winston Ntshona (1975)
Complete list · (1947–1975) · (1976–2000) · (2001–2025) Hosts of the Academy Awards ceremonies (1961–1980)
Bob Hope (1961) · Bob Hope (1962) · Frank Sinatra (1963) · Jack Lemmon (1964) · Bob Hope (1965) · Bob Hope (1966) · Bob Hope (1967) · Bob Hope (1968) · None (1969) · None (1970) · None (1971) · Helen Hayes / Alan King / Sammy Davis, Jr. / Jack Lemmon (1972) · Carol Burnett / Michael Caine / Charlton Heston / Rock Hudson (1973) · John Huston / Burt Reynolds / David Niven / Diana Ross (1974) · Sammy Davis, Jr. / Bob Hope / Shirley MacLaine / Frank Sinatra (1975) · Goldie Hawn / Gene Kelly / Walter Matthau / George Segal / Robert Shaw (1976) · Warren Beatty / Ellen Burstyn / Jane Fonda / Richard Pryor (1977) · Bob Hope (1978) · Johnny Carson (1979) · Johnny Carson (1980)
Complete list · (1927–1940) · (1941–1960) · (1961–1980) · (1981–2000) · (2001–2020) Hosts of the Academy Awards ceremonies (1981–2000)
Johnny Carson (1981) · Johnny Carson (1982) · Liza Minnelli / Dudley Moore / Richard Pryor / Walter Matthau (1983) · Johnny Carson (1984) · Jack Lemmon (1985) · Alan Alda / Jane Fonda / Robin Williams (1986) · Chevy Chase / Goldie Hawn / Paul Hogan (1987) · Chevy Chase (1988) · None (1989) · Billy Crystal (1990) · Billy Crystal (1991) · Billy Crystal (1992) · Billy Crystal (1993) · Whoopi Goldberg (1994) · David Letterman (1995) · Whoopi Goldberg (1996) · Billy Crystal (1997) · Billy Crystal (1998) · Whoopi Goldberg (1999) · Billy Crystal (2000)
Complete list · (1927–1940) · (1941–1960) · (1961–1980) · (1981–2000) · (2001–2020)
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Walter Matthau — (* 1. Oktober 1920 in New York als Walter John Matthow; † 1. Juli 2000 in Santa Monica, Kalifornien) war ein US amerikanischer Filmschauspieler, der vor allem in Komödien an der Seite Jack Lemmons bekannt wurde, aber wiederholt auch als… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Walter Matuschanskajaski — Walter Matthau (* 1. Oktober 1920 in New York als Walter John Matthow; † 1. Juli 2000 in Santa Monica, Kalifornien), war ein US amerikanischer Filmschauspieler, der vor allem in Komödien an der Seite Jack Lemmons bekannt wurde, aber wiederholt… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Walter Matuschanskayaski — Walter Matthau (* 1. Oktober 1920 in New York als Walter John Matthow; † 1. Juli 2000 in Santa Monica, Kalifornien), war ein US amerikanischer Filmschauspieler, der vor allem in Komödien an der Seite Jack Lemmons bekannt wurde, aber wiederholt… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Matthau — ist der Nachname folgender Personen: Charles Matthau (* 1962), US amerikanischer Schauspieler und Filmregisseur Walter Matthau (1920–2000), US amerikanischer Filmschauspieler Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung zur Untersc … Deutsch Wikipedia
Walter (Vorname) — Walter ist ein männlicher Vorname, eine um das „h“ verkürzte Form von Walther. Für den Familiennamen siehe Walter (Familienname). Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Verbreitung 2 Varianten 3 Herkunft und Bedeutung … Deutsch Wikipedia
Walter (name) — Infobox Given name 2 name = Walter | gender = masculine pronunciation= | meaning = powerful warrior, or ruler of the world. region = | origin = related names = | footnotes = Walt(h)er is a male name, derived from the Old High German language… … Wikipedia
Charles Matthau — Charles Marcus Matthau (* 10. Dezember 1962 in New York City, NY, USA) ist ein US amerikanischer Schauspieler und Filmregisseur. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Biographie 2 Filmographie 2.1 als Schauspieler … Deutsch Wikipedia
Matuschanskajaski — Walter Matthau (* 1. Oktober 1920 in New York als Walter John Matthow; † 1. Juli 2000 in Santa Monica, Kalifornien), war ein US amerikanischer Filmschauspieler, der vor allem in Komödien an der Seite Jack Lemmons bekannt wurde, aber wiederholt… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Matuschanskayaski — Walter Matthau (* 1. Oktober 1920 in New York als Walter John Matthow; † 1. Juli 2000 in Santa Monica, Kalifornien), war ein US amerikanischer Filmschauspieler, der vor allem in Komödien an der Seite Jack Lemmons bekannt wurde, aber wiederholt… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Golden Globe Award/Bester Hauptdarsteller - Komödie oder Musical — Golden Globe Award: Beste Hauptdarsteller – Komödie oder Musical Gewinner und Nominierte in der Kategorie Bester Hauptdarsteller – Komödie oder Musical (seit 2005 Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy), die die… … Deutsch Wikipedia