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Walter Matthau
Birth: Oct. 1, 1920
New York
New York County (Manhattan)
New York, USA
Death: Jul. 1, 2000
Santa Monica
Los Angeles County
California, USA

Actor. He is best remembered 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 was born Walter John Matthow in New York City, New York to Russian Jewish immigrants. His father was an electrician and his mother worked in a Lower East Side sweatshop. He first began acting by playing bit parts at a Yiddish theater where he was paid 50 cents for each appearance. After graduating from Seward Park High School in Manhattan, New York City, he enlisted in the US Army Air Force during World War II and served with the Eighth Air Force in England as a B-24 Liberator radioman-gunner, in the same 453rd Bombardment Group as James Stewart. He attained the rank of staff sergeant and became interested in acting. After his discharge from the military, he took acting classes at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York City with the influential German director Erwin Piscator. He became a respected stage actor for years in such fare as "Fancy Meeting You Again" (1952), "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" (1955 to 1956), and "A Shot in the Dark" (1961 to 1962), for which he won a Tony Award in 1962. In 1952 he appeared in the pilot of the NBC television sitcom "Mr. Peepers" with Wally Cox, in the role was of the gym teacher 'Mr. Wall'. For reasons unknown he used the name Leonard Elliot. In 1955 he made his motion picture debut as a whip-wielding bad guy in "The Kentuckian" opposite Burt Lancaster. He 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 the comedy-drama "Onionhead" starring Andy Griffith and Erin O'Brien, which was a flop. He had a featured role opposite Griffith in the well received drama "A Face in the Crowd" (1957)," directed by Elia Kazan. He also directed a low-budget 1960 movie called "The Gangster Story." In 1962 he played a sympathetic sheriff in "Lonely are the Brave," with Kirk Douglas, and in 1963 he appeared opposite Audrey Hepburn in "Charade." In 1965 a comedy role came his way when Neil Simon cast him in the hit play "The Odd Couple," playing the slovenly sportswriter Oscar Madison opposite Art Carney as Felix Ungar. He later reprised the role in the film version opposite Jack Lemmon as Felix Ungar. The same year, he played detective 'Ted Casselle' in the Alfred Hitchcock thriller "Mirage," with Gregory Peck and Diane Baker. In 1966 he achieved great film success in the comedy "The Fortune Cookie" as a shyster lawyer called William H. "Whiplash Willie" Gingrich, starring opposite Lemmon, in 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. Oscar nominations would come his way again for the 1971 films "Kotch" and 1975 film "The Sunshine Boys," another Simon vehicle transferred from the stage, for which he won a Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy. Broadway hits turned into films continued to cast him in the leads with 1969's "Hello, Dolly!" and "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 1978 follow-up "California Suite. He starred in three crime dramas in the mid-1970s, 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." In 1976 a change of pace about misfits on a Little League baseball team turned out to be a solid hit when he starred as 'Coach Morris Buttermaker' in the comedy "The Bad News Bears." In 1991 he appeared in Oliver Stone drama about the presidential assassination "JFK" and in 1993 he played the role of 'Mr. Wilson' in "Dennis the Menace." Also in 1993 he and Lemmon had a surprise box-office hit with the comedy "Grumpy Old Men," co-starring Daryl Hannah, Ann-Margaret, and Burgess Meredith. They reunited in 1995 for a sequel, "Grumpier Old Men," that co-starred Sophia Loren, Ann-Margret, and Burgess Meredith. This led to more pairings late in their careers, notably "Out to Sea" (1997) and a Simon-scripted sequel to one of their great successes, "The Odd Couple II" (1998). 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 role as a sleeping bus passenger. His final film appearance was "Hanging Up" in 2000. He died later that year of a heart attack at the age of 79. During his acting career he appeared in 65 movies, 16 Broadway stage productions, and 18 television shows. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures.
 (bio by: William Bjornstad) 
Family links: 
  Carol Grace Marcus Matthau (1924 - 2003)
Westwood Memorial Park
Los Angeles
Los Angeles County
California, USA
Plot: Chapel Garden Estate, near Jack Lemmon
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Jul 03, 2000
Find A Grave Memorial# 10234
Walter Matthau
Added by: Clint Ford
Walter Matthau
Added by: A.J. Marik
Walter Matthau
Added by: Joanne A Fan
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