Walter Matthau - Biography - IMDb
Walter Matthau Poster


Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (2)  | Family (3)  | Trade Mark (7)  | Trivia (37)  | Personal Quotes (15)  | Salary (5)

Overview (5)

Born in Lower East Side, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
Died in Santa Monica, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameWalter Jake Matthow
Nickname Jake
Height 6' 2½" (1.89 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Walter Matthau was best known for starring in many films which included Charade (1963), The Odd Couple (1968), Grumpy Old Men (1993), and Dennis the Menace (1993). He often worked with Jack Lemmon and the two were Hollywood's craziest stars.

He was born Walter Jake Matthow in New York City, New York on October 1, 1920. His mother was an immigrant from Lithuania and his father was a Russian Jewish peddler and electrician from Kiev, Ukraine. As a young boy, Matthau attended a Jewish non-profit sleep-away camp. 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 Britain as a Consolidated B-24 Liberator radioman-gunner, in the same 453rd Bombardment Group as James Stewart. He was based at RAF Old Buckenham, Norfolk during this time. He reached the rank of staff sergeant and became interested in acting.

Matthau appeared in the pilot of Mister Peepers (1952) alongside Wally Cox. He later appeared in the Elia Kazan classic, A Face in the Crowd (1957), opposite Patricia Neal and Andy Griffith, and then appeared in Lonely Are the Brave (1962), with Kirk Douglas, a film Douglas has often described as his personal favorite. Matthau then appeared in Charade (1963) with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. In 1968, Matthau made his big screen appearance as Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple (1968) alongside Jack Lemmon. The two were also in the sequel (The Odd Couple II (1998)) as well as Grumpy Old Men (1993) and Grumpier Old Men (1995). Matthau was in Dennis the Menace (1993), alongside Mason Gamble. On July 1, 2000, Matthau died of a heart attack in Los Angeles, California. He was 79 years old.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Garchomp2017

Walter's father was a poor Jewish peddler in Kiev, Russia, who went to America in 1911 He saw little of his father who spent little time at home. His mother Rose was a seamstress who worked on ladies underwear. The family were frequently evicted for non payment of rent.. One day when he was in junior high school he fought with a boy called Rocco Barbella, broke his nose and beat him. Rocco years later would become known as World Heavy Weight boxing champion Rocky Graziano. Walter was just over 6 foot by the age of 15 The first money he earned was by selling soda pop and ice cream in Jewish theatres.. Soon he got walk on jobs for 50 cents a night , After graduating from Seward Park High School he got various jobs chopping down trees in Montana, dipping picture frames in gold plating solution then enlisting in WWI in the Air Corps as a radio cryptographer in a European heavy bomber division in Europe. After the war he studied under the G. I. Bill of Rights at the Dramatic School for Social Research in New York and made his Broadway debut in 1948 in ''Anne of the Thousand Days' This was followed by a long string of flops before a hit in 'Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?' He Won two Tony Awards for his stage work, for 'A shot in the Dark in 1962 and 'The Odd Couple' in 1965.He made his film debut in 1953 in ;The Kentuckian' which he said was terrible .but went onto success receiving an Oscar nomination in 1959 for'Once More With Feeling' and wining an Oscar for 'The Fortune Cookie' in 1966 He married Carol Marcus and they have a Son David, and a daughter Jenny. They each have a son and daughter by previous marriages. He has an older brother, Henry, who lives in New York.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tonyman 5

Family (3)

Spouse Carol Grace (21 August 1959 - 1 July 2000)  (his death)  (1 child)
Grace Geraldine Johnson (1948 - 1958)  (divorced)  (2 children)
Children Matthau, Jenny
Matthau, David
Charles Matthau
Parents Matthow , Rose
Matthow, Milton

Trade Mark (7)

Often worked with Billy Wilder
Frequently worked with Jack Lemmon
Deadpan voice
Slouching posture
Craggy, hangdog face
Gravelly baritone voice and New York accent
Frequently portrayed grumpy misers or bachelors.

Trivia (37)

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 in Santa Monica, California by ambulance from his home on the late evening of June 30, 2000 after suffering a heart attack and was pronounced dead shortly afterward at 1:42 a.m. on July 1.
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 off-screen.
He hated to be identified as a comedic actor.
He once claimed that his father was an Orthodox priest in 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 US Army Air Force, 8th Air Force, 453rd Bombardment Group in England 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 son Charles Matthau, Walter's real name was Walter Matthow, but he changed it to Walter Matuschanskayasky to sound more exotic.
Was passionate about classical music and often sang pieces by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on the set.
Father, with Grace Geraldine Johnson, of son David Matthau and daughter Jenny Matthau. Father, with Carol Grace, of son Charles Matthau.
Stepfather of Lucy Saroyan and Aram Saroyan.
Very tall as young man (6' 3"), Matthau had a very slouchy posture by the time he was an actor. This was in part due to back injuries sustained in combat during World War II. 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 nine movies: Buddy Buddy (1981), The Fortune Cookie (1966), The Front Page (1974), The Grass Harp (1995), Grumpier Old Men (1995), Grumpy Old Men (1993), The Odd Couple II (1998), The Odd Couple (1968) and Out to Sea (1997). Lemmon also directed Matthau in Kotch (1971). Lemmon and Matthau also both appeared in JFK (1991), but had no scenes together.
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, executives at 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.
During the filming of Hello, Dolly! (1969), he clashed with Barbra Streisand and disliked her so intensely that he refused to be around her except when required to do so by the script. He is famously quoted as telling Streisand that she "had no more talent than a butterfly's fart." Interestingly, he is clearly seen in the audience at the One Voice (1986) concert at her Malibu ranch, where invitation-only guests had the privilege of paying $5,000 per couple to help establish the Streisand Foundation, which supports numerous charitable organizations. Apparently, he did not hold grudges.
Had one sibling, an older brother named Henry Matthow (born July 14, 1918; died May 21, 1995, in Long Beach, NY. His mother, Rose Matthow, was born December 15, 1894, and died in Pacific Palisades, CA, in January 1979.
Played Albert Einstein in the film I.Q. (1994) even though he was a half-foot taller than the famous scientist.
When he accepted his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for The Fortune Cookie (1966), he showed up on stage with a cast in one of his arms, to which presenter Shelley Winters said: "You had a tough time getting in here". During his speech, Matthau mentioned that he fell from his bicycle a few days earlier.
Told the editors of AFI's "Private Screenings" that John Ford's The Informer (1935) is his favorite film.
He was a lifelong Democrat.
On August 9, 2018, he was honored with a day of his film work during the TCM Summer Under The Stars.
He has appeared in two films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: A Face in the Crowd (1957) and A New Leaf (1971).
Between 1962 and 1974, Walter Matthau and George Kennedy appeared in four films together: Lonely Are the Brave (1962), Charade (1963), Mirage (1965), and Earthquake (1974).
Lived on Toyopa Drive in Pacific Palisades next door to Mel Blanc and around the corner from William Schallert, who lived on Ramos Place.
Drove a Mercedes with the personalized plate WALTZ.

Personal Quotes (15)

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.
[on working with Elvis Presley on the film King Creole (1958)] He [Elvis] 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.
[on Barbra Streisand] I had no disagreement with Barbra Streisand. I was merely exasperated at her tendency to be a complete megalomaniac.
[1984 remark on Barbra Streisand] The most extraordinary ... er ... uninteresting person I have ever met. I just found her to be a terrible bore ... She was doing something and asked the director if I wouldn't mind saying my lines in a certain way. I think I said something to her like, "I was acting before you were born, so please don't tell me how to act." And she said, in her own inimitable way, "Is this guy crazy or something?".
[on Barbara Stanwyck] Here was an actress that never played just one side of a character. She always played the truth. I once asked Barbara Stanwyck the secret of acting, and she said, "Just be truthful, and if you can fake that, you've got it made."
[on The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)] My first day of work was in an abandoned subway station in Brooklyn. You can't get any lower than that. Before this journey underground, I hadn't been on the trains for years. I can remember the time of my youth when I didn't even have enough money to buy a token -- and that was when they cost five cents!

Salary (5)

Gangster Story (1959) $2,500
The Odd Couple (1968) $300,000
Candy (1968) $50,000 plus points
Hello, Dolly! (1969) $500,000 .
The Bad News Bears (1976) $800,000

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