Walter Matthau

Actor, Producer, Director
Specializing in playing curmudgeonly cranks, actor Walter Matthau parlayed his rumpled, hangdog features into a long career in film and on television. Matthau started on the stage and enjoyed lasting success on ... Read more »
Born: 10/01/1920 in New York City, New York, USA

Filmography

Actor (116)

Hanging Up 2000 (Movie)

Lou Mozell (Actor)

The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg 2000 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Neil Simon: The People's Playwright 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

The Lives of Lillian Hellman 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

The Marriage Fool 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Billy Wilder: The Human Comedy 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

Private Screenings: Lemmon & Matthau 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

The 70th Annual Academy Awards 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

The GI Bill: The Law That Changed America 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

The Odd Couple II 1998 (Movie)

Oscar Madison (Actor)

Jack Lemmon 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Jack Lemmon: America's Everyman 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Out to Sea 1997 (Movie)

Charlie (Actor)

I'm Not Rappaport 1996 (Movie)

Nat (Actor)

The Grass Harp 1996 (Movie)

Judge Charlie Cool (Actor)

Grumpier Old Men 1995 (Movie)

Max Goldman (Actor)

The 21st Annual People's Choice Awards 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

I.Q. 1994 (Movie)

Albert Einstein (Actor)

The 20th Annual People's Choice Awards 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

The First Annual Comedy Hall of Fame 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

A Menace Called Dennis 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Dennis the Menace 1993 (Movie)

Mr Wilson (Actor)

Elvis: His Life and Times 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Grumpy Old Men 1993 (Movie)

Max Goldman (Actor)

What Is This Thing Called Love? 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Beyond JFK: The Question of Conspiracy 1991 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

J.F.K. 1991 (Movie)

Senator Russell Long (Actor)

The 48th Annual Golden Globe Awards 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

The Movie Awards 1990 - 1991 (TV Show)

Actor

The 16th Annual People's Choice Awards 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

The 62nd Annual Academy Awards 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

The Incident 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Neil Simon: Not Just For Laughs 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

The 3rd Annual American Comedy Awards 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

The 61st Annual Academy Awards Presentation 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

The 2nd Annual American Comedy Awards 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

The Couch Trip 1988 (Movie)

Donald Becker (Actor)

The Little Devil 1988 (Movie)

Maurice (Actor)

We the People 200: The Constitutional Gala 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

The 1st Annual American Comedy Awards 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

George Burns' 90th Birthday Special 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Pirates 1986 (Movie)

Captain Red (Actor)

Movers & Shakers 1985 (Movie)

Joe Mulholland (Actor)

Hollywood: The Gift of Laughter 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Actor

I Love Liberty 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Actor

I Ought to Be in Pictures 1982 (Movie)

Herbert Tucker (Actor)

The Survivors 1982 (Movie)

Sonny Paluso (Actor)

Buddy Buddy 1981 (Movie)

Trabucco (Actor)

First Monday in October 1981 (Movie)

Dan Snow (Actor)

Hopscotch 1980 (Movie)

Miles Kendig (Actor)

Little Miss Marker 1980 (Movie)

Sorrowful Jones (Actor)

Portrait of a 60% Perfect Man 1979 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

California Suite 1978 (Movie)

Marvin Michaels (Actor)

Casey's Shadow 1978 (Movie)

Lloyd Bourdelle (Actor)

House Calls 1978 (Movie)

Dr Charley Nichols (Actor)

The George Burns Special 1976 - 1977 (TV Show)

Actor

The 48th Annual Academy Awards Presentation 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)

Actor

The Bad News Bears 1976 (Movie)

Coach Buttermaker (Actor)

Gentleman Tramp 1975 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

The Sunshine Boys 1975 (Movie)

Willy Clark (Actor)

A Show Business Salute to Milton Berle 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)

Actor

Earthquake 1974 (Movie)

Drunk (Actor)

The Front Page 1974 (Movie)

Walter Burns (Actor)

The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3 1974 (Movie)

Lieutenant Garber (Actor)

Charley Varrick 1973 (Movie)

Charley Varrick (Actor)

The Laughing Policeman 1973 (Movie)

Jake Martin (Actor)

Pete 'n' Tillie 1972 (Movie)

Pete (Actor)

Super Comedy Bowl 2 1971 - 1972 (TV Show)

Actor

Kotch 1971 (Movie)

Joseph P Kotcher (Actor)

Plaza Suite 1971 (Movie)

Sam/Jesse/Roy (Actor)

A New Leaf 1970 (Movie)

Henry Graham (Actor)

Cactus Flower 1969 (Movie)

Julian Winston (Actor)

Hello, Dolly! 1969 (Movie)

Horace Vandergelder (Actor)

Candy 1968 (Movie)

General Smight (Actor)

The Odd Couple 1968 (Movie)

Oscar Madison (Actor)

The Secret Life of an American Wife 1968 (Movie)

Movie Star (Actor)

A Guide For the Married Man 1967 (Movie)

Paul Manning (Actor)

The Fortune Cookie 1966 (Movie)

Willie Gingrich (Actor)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents 1955 - 1965 (TV Show)

Actor

Mirage 1965 (Movie)

Ted Caselle (Actor)

Profiles in Courage 1964 - 1965 (TV Show)

Actor

Ensign Pulver 1964 (Movie)

Doc (Actor)

Fail Safe 1964 (Movie)

Mr Groeteschele (Actor)

Goodbye, Charlie 1964 (Movie)

Sir Leopold Sartori (Actor)

Charade 1963 (Movie)

Bartholomew (Actor)

The United States Steel Hour 1953 - 1963 (TV Show)

Actor

Island of Love 1962 (Movie)

Tony Dallas (Actor)

Lonely Are the Brave 1962 (Movie)

Sheriff Johnson (Actor)

Who's Got the Action? 1962 (Movie)

Tony Gagoots (Actor)

Gangster Story 1960 (Movie)

Jack Martin (Actor)

Strangers When We Meet 1960 (Movie)

Felix Anders (Actor)

King Creole 1958 (Movie)

Maxie Fields (Actor)

Onionhead 1958 (Movie)

"Red" Wildoe (Actor)

Ride a Crooked Trail 1958 (Movie)

Judge Kyle (Actor)

Voice in the Mirror 1958 (Movie)

Dr Leon Karnes (Actor)

A Face in the Crowd 1957 (Movie)

Mel Miller (Actor)

Slaughter on Tenth Avenue 1957 (Movie)

Al Dahlke (Actor)

The Alcoa Hour 1955 - 1957 (TV Show)

Actor

Bigger Than Life 1956 (Movie)

Wally (Actor)

Philco Television Playhouse 1948 - 1956 (TV Show)

Actor

The Indian Fighter 1955 (Movie)

Wes Todd (Actor)

The Kentuckian 1955 (Movie)

Bodine (Actor)

A Beverly Hills Christmas (TV Show)

Actor

Incident in a Small Town (TV Show)

Actor

Mrs. Lambert Remembers Love (TV Show)

Actor

The DuPont Show of the Week (TV Show)

Actor
Producer (1)

Little Miss Marker 1980 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)
Director (1)

Gangster Story 1960 (Movie)

(Director)

Biography

Specializing in playing curmudgeonly cranks, actor Walter Matthau parlayed his rumpled, hangdog features into a long career in film and on television. Matthau started on the stage and enjoyed lasting success on Broadway, before making the transition to villainous supporting roles in films like "King Creole" (1958) and "Charade" (1963). Following more supporting roles in the comedy sequel "Ensign Pulver" (1964) and the tense political thriller "Fail-Safe" (1964), Matthau partnered for the first time with Jack Lemmon in Billy Wilder's caustic comedy, "The Fortune Cookie" (1966). The pair would go on to star opposite each other in their most famous partnership, "The Odd Couple" (1968), while Matthau branched off as the lead in a number of classic crime thrillers, including "Charlie Varrick" (1973) and "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" (1974). He forged another successful, albeit brief partnership with George Burns for "The Sunshine Boys" (1975) and delivered his most popular performance as the beer-swilling manager of a misfit Little League baseball team in "The Bad News Bears" (1976). Matthau spent much of the 1980s in a number of forgettable movies before reuniting with Lemmon for the surprisingly successful "Grumpy Old Men" (1993), which spawned the lesser sequel "Grumpier Old Men" (1995) and the unrelated "Out to Sea" (1997). Though he ended his career with a string of box office misfires, Matthau nonetheless left behind a last legacy that included numerous hit comedies, surprisingly well-acted thrillers, and one of the greatest onscreen partnerships in cinema history.

Relationships

Henry Matthau

Brother

Grace Johnson

Wife
divorced has two children with Matthau

Carol Marcus

Wife
met while both were acting on Broadway in "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter" (1955) married on August 17, 1959 previously married to William Saroyan, with whom she had two children wrote memoir, "Among the Porcupines" (1992) mother of Matthau's son Charles died July 2003

Jenny Matthau

Daughter
mother, Grace Johnson

Charles Matthau

Son
born on December 10, 1965 mother, Carol Marcus acted with father in "Charley Varrick" (1973) and "House Calls" (1978) credited as associate producer on three 1981 films starring father, "I Ought to Be in Pictures", "Buddy Buddy" and "First Monday in October"

David Matthau

Son
mother, Grace Johnson

Aram Saroyan

Step-Son
born in 1944

Lucy Saroyan

Step-Daughter
born in January 1946

EDUCATION

P S 25

New York , New York

I S 64

New York , New York

Dramatic Workshop of the New School for Social Research

New York , New York
studied with Erwin Piscator; among fellow students were Tony Curtis, Marlon Brando, Gene Saks and Rod Steiger

School of Journalism, Columbia University

New York , New York

Seward Park High School

New York , New York 1939

Milestones

2000

Cast as the ailing father in Diane Keaton's "Hanging Up", scripted by Delia and Nora Ephron; when a case of pneumonia forced him to leave the production early, son Charles stepped in and played his father's character in a few flashback scenes

1998

Starred opposite Burnett in "The Marriage Fool" (CBS), directed by son Charles

1998

Reprised role of Oscar to Lemmon's Felix in the ill-advised "The Odd Couple II", scripted by Simon

1997

Twelfth acting collaboration with Lemmon, "Out to Sea"

1996

Played angry, aging Jewish radical in Herb Gardner's film version of his play "I'm Not Rappaport"; co-starred Ossie Davis

1995

Reprised role opposite Lemmon in sequel, "Grumpier Old Men", which again featured Ann-Margret; also co-starred Sophia Loren

1995

Reteamed with son, acting in Charles' sophomore feature as director, "The Grass Harp", based on the novel by Truman Capote; in addition to Lemmon, Roddy McDowell, Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie and Joe Don Baker acted in film

1994

Essayed Albert Einstein for Fred Schepisi's "I.Q.", which reteamed him with Gene Saks playing one of his cronies

1993

Co-starred with Jack Lemmon in "Grumpy Old Men", which reteamed him with Ann-Margret

1993

Portrayed the original grumpy old man, Mr. Wilson, in feature version of "Dennis the Menace"

1991

Acted in "Mrs. Lambert Remembers Love" (CBS), directed by son Charles Matthau

1990

Returned to the small screen as star of "The Incident" (CBS), directed by Joseph Sargent; appeared in two sequels, "Against Her Will: An Incident in Baltimore" (1992) and "Incident in a Small Town" (1994), both helmed by Delbert Mann

1988

Again collaborated with Ritchie on "The Couch Trip"; also played a priest who exorcises the devil out of a woman in Roberto Begnini's "The Little Devil" (never released in USA)

1986

Played peg-leg Captain Red in Roman Polanski's "Pirates"

1983

Reteamed with Ritchie on "The Survivors", co-starring Robin Williams

1981

Reunited with Ross and Simon for "I Ought to be in Pictures"; first film with Ann-Margret

1981

Third and last collaboration with Wilder, "Buddy Buddy", co-starring Lemmon

1980

Executive produced and starred in Walter Bernstein's remake of "Little Miss Marker"

1980

Reteamed with Jackson on "Hopscotch"

1978

"House Calls", his first film with Glenda Jackson, teamed him again with Carney who offered an hysterical turn as the addle-brained head of surgery at Matthau's hospital; also acted in Ritt's "Casey's Shadow"

1978

Reteamed with Ross, Simon and Elaine May on "California Suite"

1976

Made a fine, irascible coach of "The Bad News Bears", directed by Michael Ritchie

1975

First of three films directed by Herbert Ross and scripted by Simon from his plays, "The Sunshine Boys", co-starring George Burns; earned another Oscar nod as Best Actor

1974

First stage appearance in almost a decade (and to date last stage role), "Juno and the Paycock" in Los Angeles

1974

Billed as Walter Matuschanskavasky for his cameo in "Earthquake", adding fuel to a flame he had fanned by jokingly telling a writer a few years before that it was his "real" name

1974

Reunited with Wilder, Lemmon and Burnett for the uneven remake of "The Front Page"

1972

Acted opposite Carol Burnett in Martin Ritt's "Pete 'n' Tillie"

1972

Made rare TV appearance in "Awake and Sing" (PBS)

1970

Portrayed "gold digger" with murder on his mind in Elaine May's "A New Leaf"

1970

Second film version of a Neil Simon play, "Plaza Suite"

1970

Starred as "Kotch", directed by Lemmon; earned first Oscar nomination as Best Actor

1968

Played romantic lead in Kelly's film version of the musical "Hello, Dolly!"; Barbra Streisand played Dolly Levi

1968

Reteamed with Saks for "Cactus Flower", acting opposite Ingrid Bergman and Goldie Hawn (who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in her first significant film role)

1968

Reprised "Odd Couple" role opposite Lemmon's Felix in film version directed by Gene Saks

1967

Reteamed with Carney in Gene Kelly's "A Guide for the Married Man"

1966

First film with Jack Lemmon and first collaboration with writer-director Billy Wilder, "The Fortune Cookie"; won Best Supporting Actor Oscar

1965

Slowed down by a serious heart attack; would have a quadruple by-pass operation in 1977

1965

Originated role of Oscar Madison on Broadway in Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" opposite Art Carney as Felix Unger

1963

Turned in another fine, villainous turn in Stanley Donen's "Charade", starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn

1959

Sole film as director, "The Gangster Story"; also co-starred

1958

Portrayed evil crime boss in Michael Curtiz's "King Creole", starring Elvis Presley

1957

Starred in short-lived syndicated TV series, "Tallahassee 7000"

1957

Played a cynical newsman investigating Andy Griffith's character in "A Face in the Crowd"

1956

Played James Mason's family friend in the underrated "Bigger Than Life", a forceful, realistic tale exposing both the good and bad of the wonder drug cortisone; produced by Mason

1955

Appeared in first hit show, as co-star of Broadway production of "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?"

1955

Film acting debut as an evil saloon keeper in "The Kentuckian", directed by and co-starring Burt Lancaster

1953

Played Iago in "Philco Television Playhouse" (NBC) presentation of "Othello"

1950

TV debut in "Last Cruise", an episode of "Studio One" (CBS)

1948

Hired as an understudy for the Broadway production of "Anne of the Thousand Days"; eventually made Broadway debut as the 85-year-old Bishop Fisher

1947

Was stock player with Orange County Playhouse (New York)

1946

Appeared in summer stock with Erie County Playhouse (Pennsylvania) in "Ten Nights in a Bar Room"

1944

Upon Army discharge went to Reno, Nevada, to work for Railway Express; eventually moved back to NYC

1941

Served in US Army Air Force as radio operator and cryptographer; stationed in England, France and Germany

1931

Professional stage debut at age 11 in "The Dishwasher", a musical comedy (date approximate)

Appeared in 18 plays on Broadway

Played bit parts in local Yiddish theater productions as child

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