A Tribute to Walter Matthau


A Tribute to Walter Matthau


Walter Matthow was a small child in New York city when his father left his family on their own. Instead of letting this experience destroy him, he turned to stage acting. In 1951 he won a New York Drama Critics Award. He moved on to television, and then to movies. In his early roles he played mostly bad guys, including memorable parts in Charade (1963) and Fail-Safe (1966). But when Billy Wilder finally recognized his great talent for comedy, he turned in an unbroken string of truly memorable comic performances in The Fortune Cookie (1966), A Guide for the Married Man (1967), and The Odd Couple (1968). His partnership and lifelong friendship with Jack Lemmon was formed at that time. They made 13 films together — some more memorable than others, to be sure — but all entertaining in the end.

One measure of Matthau’s greatness was that he seemed born to play many of the roles he was given. It’s hard to imagine anybody else as Henry Graham or Whiplash Willie. And even though Jack Klugman did a fine job as TV’s Oscar Madison, it was Matthau who made the role his own.

As for his supposed “real” last name, according to his son Charlie, “Walter loved to trick the media, and using the last name Matasschanskayasky was one of them. He used it as a credit in one of his movies where he played a drunk. And the media ate it up in an interview. Their questions never changed, but his answers did, only very few caught on.”

Unfortunately, he experienced health problems during most of his career, including a heart attack in 1966 and bypass surgery in 1976, as well as two major bouts of pneumonia in the 90s. He died of a heart attack on July 1, 2000.

Walter Matthau Tributes/Pages

Selected Reviews of Walter Matthau’s Films

Where To Find Or See Walter Matthau Films

Walter Matthau Photos/Art On The Web

Walter Matthau Movie Posters On The Web

  • All Walter Matthau Posters from our Classic Movies Poster Store.


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