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Classically Speaking:
Promoting Classic Movies in a Jaded World!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Walter MatthauWALTER MATTHAU (1920-2000), born Walter John Matthow is an American actor, who was born to Russian-Jewish immigrants. He began acting at the age of eleven, doing bit parts for a Yiddish theater in New York. He had to pay 50 cents however for each on stage appearance. It wasn't until he was twenty-eight that he got his first Broadway role in Anne of a Thousand Days as an understudy. He played an eighty-three-year-old bishop. Two years later, he turned to television work. He began by doing five episodes of "Lux Video Theatre". It wasn't until he was thirty-five that he made it to the big screen. I was introduced first to Walter Matthau seeing Charade in theaters. I was only three at the time, but I continued to remember that film for many years, talking of various scenes in it. Three years later when The Fortune Cookie came out, I recognized Walter Matthau and my mother told me his name. We enjoyed that film so much that we looked for other films with Matthau in them. We found him to be a very likable grump. I hope you'll become acquainted with him and enjoy seeing him in films as much as I have.

Haven't you seen Cactus Flower (1969)? This has to be my favorite Walter Matthau film.Cactus Flower (1969) The screenplay was written by I.A.L. Diamond and has some of the wittiest dialog ever to hit the silver screen. Walter Matthau plays Dr. Julian Winston, a dentist dating a much younger woman, played by Goldie Hawn. To avoid marrying her, he lies that he's already married. When his girlfriend insists upon meeting his wife, Dr. Winston must produce a wife and asks his nurse played by Ingrid Bergman to play the part. It's a very funny story about how one lie leads to so many others, but once the truth is known, all works out in the end for everyone.

Watch this and then see these other four films.

Charade (1963) Here is the film that started it all for me. This is the first film I remember seeing as a child that wasn't animated. It was later I learned that it also starred Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. I knew them solely as their characters' names. Walter Matthau played Hamilton Bartholemew.
Kotch (1971) I saw this film at the age of eleven and adored Matthau in this role as Joseph P. Kotcher, a grandfather who is kicked out of his son's home. I think it is one of Matthau's most endearing roles. It is the directorial debut for Jack Lemmon and the story about Mr. Kotcher befriending a pregnant teenage girl.
The Fortune Cookie (1966) This Billy Wilder comedy is a great way to introduce yourself to the very successful teaming of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Walter Matthau is wonderful as the ambulance chasing lawyer who convinces his client, his brother-in-law played by Lemmon, to fake serious injury. Billy Wilder both directed and co-wrote the screenplay with I.A.L. Diamond.
Dennis the Menace (1993) Walter Matthau worked in films up until his death in 2000. Here he played a wonderful Mr. Wilson, neighbor to the incorrigible Dennis.

*Contributed by: "Elizabeth Van Cleve Randolph" Date: Tues, Mar 25, 2008 / 06:47:28 PDT

Academy Awards®
© A.M.P.A.S.®
1976 Nominated Best Actor in a Leading Role for: THE SUNSHINE BOYS (1975)
1972 Nominated Best Actor in a Leading Role for: KOTCH (1971)
1967 Best Actor in a Supporting Role for: THE FORTUNE COOKIE (1966)


  • He was an excellent actor, even in dramatic roles. His appearance in Oliver Stone's JFK in 1993 was a good role, albeit almost more like a cameo appearance.

    Blessings to you,

    By Anonymous Arlen Crawford, at Mon Apr 07, 07:08:00 AM PDT