Walter Nixon Matthau born on October 1st 1920, was an American actor best known 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.
Matthau was born in New York City’s Lower East Side, his mother, Rose was a Lithuanian Jewish immigrant who worked in a garment sweatshop, and his father, Milton Matthau, was a Russian Jewish peddler and electrician.
During World War II, Matthau served in the U.S. Army Air Forces with the Eighth Air Force in England as a B-24 Liberator radioman-gunner, in the same 453rd Bombardment Group along with another actor by the name of James Stewart. Who was well known actor as George Bailey in the movie called, “A Wonderful Life.”
Coming home after the war, he took acting classes, at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School with German director Erwin Piscator.
In 1965, Neil Simon cast him in the hit play The Odd Couple, playing slovenly sportswriter Oscar Madison, opposite Jack Lemon as Felix Unger, which became a major hit in his career.
Today’s YouTube video brought to you by user name,(Paramount Pictures) is the original television commerical introducing the movie called, “The Odd Couple.”
Matthau was married twice; first to Grace Geraldine Johnson from 1948 to 1958, and then to Carol Marcus from 1959 until his death in 2000. He had two children, Jenny and David, by his first wife, and a son, Charlie Matthau, with his second wife.
A heavy smoker and drinker, Matthau suffered a heart attack in 1966, the first of at least three in his lifetime. In 1976, ten years after his first heart attack, he underwent heart bypass surgery.
After working in freezing Minnesota weather for Grumpy Old Men in 1993, he was hospitalized for double pneumonia.
In December 1995 he had a colon tumor removed; it tested benign. He was also hospitalized in May 1999 for more than two months after another bout of pneumonia.
In November 1999, he was diagnosed with colon cancer shortly after completing his final acting role, on the movie called, “Hanging Up.”
Matthau suffered from atherosclerotic heart disease and colon cancer, which had spread to his liver, lungs and brain. He died of a heart attack in Santa Monica on July 1, 2000. He was 79 years old.
His remains are interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Less than a year later, the remains of Jack Lemmon (who died of colon and bladder cancer) were buried at the same cemetery. After Matthau’s death, Lemmon as well as other friends and relatives had appeared on Larry King Live in an hour of tribute and remembrance; many of those same people appeared on the show one year later, reminiscing about Lemmon.
Carol Marcus, also a native of New York, died of a brain aneurysm in 2003. Her remains are buried on top of those of her husband, Matthau.
The remains of actor George C. Scott are buried to the left of those of Walter Matthau, in an unmarked grave, and Farrah Fawcett’s remains are buried to the right.
One of my favorite movies from Walter Matthau was when he played dispatch radio crewmen, on the movie called, “The Taking of Pelham 123,” which was remade in 2009 starring John Travolta movie, seeing both movies.
My impression of Walter Matthau portrayal was extraordinary, and if you have the chance to watch the 1974 version of it, you’ll see what I mean.
As we remember today’s day to remember how on, October 1st 1920 Walter Matthau was born today.
Written & Designed by JD Mitchell