Walter Matthau | Timeline

The Kentuckian (1955)

Prior to heading for Owensboro, Kentucky, Walter had a 10-foot bullwhip delivered. He went to the roof of his West 44th Street apartment. The loud cracking attracted a trio of New York's finest.

The Indian Fighter (1955)

Walter was cast on recommendation from Burt Lancaster to Kirk Douglas. The film was shot on location in Bend, Oregon.

Bigger Than Life (1956)

This film was directed by cult filmmaker Nicholas Ray.

A Face in the Crowd (1957)

A drama about media manipulation, the power of television, and the cult of celebrity.

Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957)

Matthau is appropriately menacing as a brutal New York City waterfront racketeer.

King Creole (1958)

Shot on location in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Voice in the Mirror (1958)

Walter said, "I was angry with Harry Keller, the director. He asked, 'Will you leave me alone? I'm really a cutter.' Richard Egan said, 'You see, Mathhau's a New York actor. He likes to argue.'"

Onionhead (1958)

The title concerns Andy Griffith's character's hair falling out and having an onion mixture applied to it to promote hair growth.

Ride a Crooked Trail (1958)

An Audie Murphy Western about a thief who is mistaken for a lawman.

Strangers When We Meet (1960)

A well-done film depicting a torrid suburban affair in Los Angeles before a repressed America would burst into the sexual revolution of the '60s.

Gangster Story (1960)

Producers asked for a title. "Chopped Herring," Walter replied. "That's no title. They have to know there are gangsters." "You mean like 'Gangster Story?" Matthau wondered. "Great!" they exclaimed.

Lonely are the Brave (1962)

Walter became friends with William Schallert, cast as the soft-spoken radio operator to Matthau's sheriff. The two remained pals for almost forty years, sharing a love of Mozart.

Whos Got the Action? (1962)

Matthau plays Tony Gagouts, a big-time bookie with an elaborately concealed electronic control room for his illegal numbers racket.

Island of Love (1963)

The film was shot on location in Athens and the Greek islands of Hydra and Spetsai.

Ensign Pulver (1964)

Walter Matthau continues the role of Doc first played by William Powell in the classic and popular "Mister Roberts".

Fail-Safe (1964)

A dark Cold War-era drama.

Charade (1963)

Matthau's son, Charlie, was born the day after Charade finished shooting.

Goodbye Charlie (1964)

As Matthau plays this role he keeps changing accents, sometimes aping Bela Lugosi, other times imitating Peter Sellers.

Mirage (1965)

Matthau was disappointed that he did not have a lot of screen time in the film.

A Guide for the Married Man (1967)

Walter is the headliner before an array of superstars who make cameo appearances in short vignettes.

The Fortune Cookie (1966)

Ironically, the film that made him a movie star and won him an Oscar nearly killed him. Production was halted for five months after Walter had a serious heart attack with ten days left on the shoot.

The Odd Couple (1968)

The play starred Walter Matthau as Oscar, and Art Carney playing Felix. When they were making it into a movie, they felt Carney didn't have enough box office punch, so they cast Jack Lemmon instead.

Candy (1968)

Matthau makes a cameo appearance as right-wing General Smight.

The Secret Life of an American Wife (1968)

Walter was reunited for this comedy with writer and director George Axelrod.

Cactus Flower (1969)

Matthau had romantic scenes with both Goldie Hawn and Ingrid Bergman.

Hello, Dolly! (1969)

Walter Matthau quibbled with Barbra Streisand intensely on set. They became friendlier later in life.

A New Leaf (1971)

The film as delivered by Elaine May was drastically re-cut and shortened (butchered according to some) by Paramount before its release.

Kotch (1971)

This movie is directed by Jack Lemmon. It was Lemmon's one and only film as a director.

Plaza Suite (1971)

The film version of Neil Simon's play has three separate acts set in the same suite in New York's Plaza Hotel. Walter Matthau stars in a triple role.

Charley Varrick (1973)

Walter Matthau won Best Actor at the British Academy Awards in 1973 for his role as Charley Varrick.

The Laughing Policeman (1973)

Shot on location in San Francisco, Matthau enjoyed walking the streets of the hilly city between takes.

Pete n Tillie (1972)

Walter Matthau won Best Actor at the British Academy Award (1973) for his role as Pete and was nominated for the Golden Globe Award (1973).

The Front Page (1974)

Walter Matthau was nominated for the Golden Globe Award as Best Motion Picture Actor.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

Though born and raised in New York City, at the time the movie was shot Matthau had not been on the subway system in many years.

Earthquake (1974)

The lives of innocent people are devastated when a major earthquake rips through Los Angeles and reduces the city to ruins.

The Bad News Bears (1976)

Walter Matthau was nominated for the BAFTA Film Award as Best Actor.

The Sunshine Boys (1975)

Walter Matthau was nominated for the Golden Globe Award (1976), Academy Award (1976) and British Academy Award (1976) as Best Actor.

House Calls (1978)

The song Walter attempts to sing in the shower is Cherubino's song from Act II of Mozart's "Nozze di Figaro".

California Suite (1978)

The movie was shot extensively inside and on the grounds of the famous Beverly Hills Hotel. Today a strict no-filming policy is enforced, sparing camera-shy celebrity guests media hassle.

Caseys Shadow (1978)

In April 1976, a decade after suffering a near-fatal heart attack, fifty-six-year-old Matthau underwent coronary bypass surgery. Three and a half months later, he began shooting this film.

First Monday in October (1981)

The film is based on a Jerome Lawrence-Robert E. Lee stage hit.

Hopscotch (1980)

Glenda Jackson and Walter team again in this marvelous spoof of the world of spies.

Little Miss Marker (1980)

Walter Matthau was also the Executive Producer on this film.

Buddy Buddy (1981)

Matthau plays a professional killer going by the name of Trabucco, on his way to rub out a gangster set to testify against the mob.

I Ought to be in Pictures (1982)

Matthau stars as a screenwriter who favors gambling and drinking.

The Survivors (1983)

Matthau stars opposite Robin Williams in this satire that lampoons America’s obsession with guns.

Movers and Shakers (1985)

This comedy was filmed on location in Los Angeles, California, USA.

Pirates (1986)

This was a physically challenging role which required sixty-five-year-old Matthau to wear a peg leg and heavy costumes.

The Couch Trip (1988)

Director Michael Ritchie remembered co-star Dan Aykroyd had “tremendous admiration for Walter, and recognition of his formidable comic talents.”

Il Piccolo Diavolo (The Little Devil) (1988)

Walter Matthau plays a priest living in a residential college for priests in Rome, is called out one day to "exorcise" the devil from someone.

JFK (1991)

Top-lining is Kevin Costner, playing New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1992)

A reading of the beloved Christmas story set to Dr. Seuss’ original drawings, straight from the book. Walter’s narration is warm and grandfatherly.

I.Q. (1994)

Walter Matthau plays Albert Einstein in this romantic, comedy film.

Dennis the Menace (1993)

20,000 children auditioned for the part of Dennis. Ten of them were selected to test the role with Walter Matthau.

Grumpy Old Men (1993)

After filming this movie in Minnesota in freezing temperatures, Walter Matthau was hospitalized with double pneumonia.

The Grass Harp (1995)

This film, directed by Walter’s son Charlie, is based on an autobiographical novella by Carol Matthau’s friend, Truman Capote.

Grumpier Old Men (1995)

Sophia Loren played his romantic interest; Matthau said, "I just love the idea of me fooling around with Sophia Loren."

Im Not Rappaport (1996)

Matthau's final serio-comic role is Old Nat Moyer, a Jewish talker, a philosopher, and a troublemaker with a fanciful imagination.

The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (1998)

Aviva Kempner interviewed Walter for her documentary.

The Odd Couple II (1998)

At the core of Neil Simon’s follow-up to ‘Odd Couple’ is the story of a reunion between Oscar and Felix when the former’s son marries the latter’s daughter.

Out to Sea (1997)

Care-free Charlie Gordon (Walter Matthau) cons his widower brother-in-law Herb (Jack Lemmon) into an expenses-paid luxury cruise in search of rich, lonely ladies.

Hanging Up (2000)

Walter Matthau's final film.