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Walter Matthau
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6' 3"
Mini biography

Born to Russian Jewish immigrants, he was often cast as a would be con man. His father, a peddler from Kiev, left home when he was 3 years old. He lived with his older brother, Henry, and their mother, a garment worker, on the Lower East Side of New York. During World War II, he served in the Army Air Corps and returned home a sergeant with six battle stars. In 1948, his first Broadway role was when he was hired as an understudy for the role of an 83 year old English bishop in Anne of the Thousand Days starring Rex Harrison. His fame came with Fortune Cookie, The (1966) and Odd Couple, The (1968). While making the former, he suffered a serious heart attack. This was due to heavy smoking and chronic gambling. In 1976, he had heart bypass surgery. In 1993, he was hospitalized for double pneumonia. In 1995, he had a benign colon tumor removed. In 1999, he was hospitalized again for pneumonia. His ill health was due to his eating habits. He had two children to Grace Johnson, David and Jenny.

Carol Grace (1959 - 1 July 2000) (his death)
'Grace Geraldine Johnson' (1948 - 1958)

Big break came when understudying the actor who played the Archbishop in "Anne Of The Thusand Days" starring Rex Harrison

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 out-screen.

He hated to be identified as a comedic actor.

His father was a street salesman in Kiev, Ukraine.

He once claimed that his father was an Orthodox priest in the Czarist Russia, who was removed after he claimed that the Pope was infalible.

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.

At the age of 28, he replaced an old British actor in a play in Broadway, to represent an 83-year-old bishop. He performed the role without rehearsing it previously.

He suffered his first heart attack during the shooting of The Odd Couple (1968).

Brought to the St. John's Health Center after suffering a heart attack by ambulance and was pronounced dead shortly afterward at 1:42 a.m.

Studied in the dramatic workshop at New York's New School with Gene Saks, Rod Steiger, Harry Guardino and Tony Curtis.

Served in the Army Air Corps with James Stewart

He once estimated his lifetime gambling losses at $5 million.

Two children, Jennie and David, by his first wife, Grace Geraldine Johnson, and a son, Charles Matthau, by his second wife, Carol Marcus.

After World War II, when he served in the Army Air Corps, he returned a sergeant with six battle stars.

While making a TV series in Florida before his movie stardom, he lost $183,000 betting on spring-training baseball games.

In middle age he estimated his lifetime gambling losses at $5 million.

Had a heart attack in 1966.

After filming "Grumpy Old Men" 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 his son, Charlie Matthau, on Larry King Live, July 14, 2000, his real name was Walter Matthow, and he changed it to be more exotic. The name Walter Matuschanskayasky was one he made up to retaliate for being "tricked" into appearing in the movie Earthquake (1974) with a much larger part than he expected.

Personal quotes

Matthau said, "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." 1971 Comment: "Every actor looks all his life for a part that will combine his talents with his personality, " Matthau told Time magazine in 1971. "'The Odd Couple' was mine. That was the plutonium I needed. It all started happening after that."

"I never mind my wife having the last word. In fact, I'm delighted when she gets to it."

"I have lost someone I loved as a brother, as a closest friend and a remarkable human being. We have also lost one of the best damn actors we'll ever see." - Jack Lemmon after Matthau's death

Walter Matthau stared in:

Title Year Saw with/at: Scene On Rating
The Fortune Cookie 1966 0000-00-00 ** 1/2
Cactus Flower 1969 With Jessica 0000-00-00 ** 1/2
A New Leaf 1971 With Jessica 0000-00-00 ** 1/2
The Front Page 1974 0000-00-00 ***
Earthquake 1974 2022-08-17 ** 1/2
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three 1974 2023-01-20 ***
The Bad News Bears 1976 0000-00-00 *** 1/2
Casey's Shadow 1978 at Hamden Cine-Mart 1978-06-14 ***
House Calls 1978 Cine 1-4 0000-00-00 ***
California Suite 1978 2020-08-09 1/2 *
Hopscotch 1980 0000-00-00 ****
Little Miss Marker 1980 0000-00-00 ** 1/2
First Monday in October 1981 Don't Remember 0000-00-00 ***
The Survivors 1983 With Peter Loge & Anne Lavin? at York Square 0000-00-00 * 1/2
The Couch Trip 1988 With Jessica 0000-00-00 ** 1/2
JFK 1991 Showcase Orange 0000-00-00 *** 1/2
Grumpy Old Men 1993 Showcase North Haven 0000-00-00 ***
Dennis The Menace 1993 Showcase North Haven 0000-00-00 ***
I.Q. 1994 With Kim at her house 0000-00-00 ***
Hanging Up 2000 Cheri & Holli Durkin at Branfrod Hoyts 2000-02-12 * 1/2