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Matthau

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Overview

Funny yet down-to-earth, honest yet full of exaggeration, actor Walter Matthau (1920-2000) will always occupy a place in America's heart as one of the great comic talents of his generation. Born Walter Matuschanskayasky into Jewish tenements on New York's Lower East Side, he was a child actor in New York Yiddish theater, and later a World War II Air Force radioman-gunner. He paid dues for ten years on Broadway, in summer stock, and on television before landing his film debut The Kentuckian in 1955. By the time of...
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Matthau: A Life

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Overview

Funny yet down-to-earth, honest yet full of exaggeration, actor Walter Matthau (1920-2000) will always occupy a place in America's heart as one of the great comic talents of his generation. Born Walter Matuschanskayasky into Jewish tenements on New York's Lower East Side, he was a child actor in New York Yiddish theater, and later a World War II Air Force radioman-gunner. He paid dues for ten years on Broadway, in summer stock, and on television before landing his film debut The Kentuckian in 1955. By the time of his 1968 casting as cantankerous but lovable slob Oscar Madison in the film version of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple, Matthau had won major Hollywood stardom. Based on dozens of interviews and extensive research, this book covers the breadth of his often-complicated personal life and multi-faceted career, including his unforgettable performances in such films as The Fortune Cookie, A Guide for the Married Man, Plaza Suite, Charley Varrick, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, The Sunshine Boys, The Bad News Bears, California Suite, and Grumpy Old Men.
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Editorial Reviews

Turner Classic Movies
Matthau: A Life by Rob Edelman and Audrey Kupferberg is a telling book at the man behind this well-loved personality and luminary in America's television and film history. From the slums of New York's Lower East Side to the glamour of stardom, Walter Matthau's life story is as rag-to-riches as they come.
The Big Reel
Matthau: A Life is a telling look at the man behind this well-loved personality and luminary in America's television and film histroy.
New York Resident - Phil Hall
Matthau: a Life provides a comperhensive and entertaining tribute to the most unlikely movie star ever to grace the big screen.
Globe
The new book also rips the lid off Matthau's darkest secret- his lifelong obsession with gambling. Pals told the authors he would bet on anything- from horses to cockroaches.
Iowa Tribune - Scott Eyman
Rob Edelman and Audrey Kupferburg's Matthau: A Life is the authorized biography, and it's like sitting around the Hillcrest Country Club listening ro people tell hilarious stories about a very dear human being.
Jewsweek.Com
Walter Matthau was one of the greatest comic talents of our generation. In a new book, Rob Edelman and Audrey Kupferberg tell a compelling and comprehensive biography of Matthau.
Leonard Maltin
...it's hard to imagine anyone doing a better job. MATTHAU is a lively and colorful chronicle of this consummate actor's life, based on scores of interviews with friends, family, and coworkers. One word of warning: if you pick up the book, you may find it hard to put down.
Scott Eyman
...it's like sitting around the Hillcrest Country Club listening to people tell hilarious stories about a very dear human being....Edelman and Kupferberg (have) written a book that anyone who ever laughed at Walter Matthau will want to read and keep.
Palm Beach Post
Bill Ervolino
(The book offers) a vivid picture of a working actor who survived an impoverished childhood on Manhattan's Lower East Side and went on to carve an impressive career that would span four decades....one can almost hear Lemmon's voice cracking toward book's end, when he delivers Matthau's eulogy. Those who enjoyed the actor on film will no doubt enjoy him here. Like its subject, MATTHAU is smart, incisive, and funny.
Bergen Record
John DiLeo
an affectionate, celebratory new biography. It's obvious that Rob Edelman and Audrey Kupferberg...are huge fans of the actor, but their admiration never becomes gushy. Enhanced by a multitude of interviews with people from all walks of Matthau's rags-to-riches life, the book is a well-researched, breezy read neatly stocked with eye-opening tidbits....with ample doses of Matthau's irascible wit, this book gives its subject a warm, longlasting hug.
Washington Post
Lorrie P. Lykins
This memoir offers sympathetic and personal glimpses into Matthau's life...Edelman and Kupferberg manage to present an appreciative yet balanced picture of a career that spanned seven decades and included 64 motion pictures.
St. Petersburg Times
Chris DeBello
...you...did a wonderful job showing the human and professional side of one of my favorite actors.
Morning Host, WNNJ-AM
Publishers Weekly
During the 1965 filming of Mirage, director Edward Dmytryk told Walter Matthau (1920-2000), "you're going to become the greatest character actor in the business." The actor rejected that assessment, insisting he would become a leading man. Film professors Edelman and Kupferberg (coauthors of Angela Lansbury) offer an engaging chronicle of an actor who lacked leading man looks, whose own mother wanted him to have his nose fixed and who achieved stardom through sheer individuality and talent. Matthau grew up on Manhattan's Lower East Side and recalled his childhood as "a dreadful, horrible, stinking nightmare." His father deserted the family and his mother couldn't show affection, yet young Walter discovered a love of acting that led him to Broadway. The authors meticulously relate the story of his acting career, but more absorbing is their retelling of Matthau's obsessive gambling, which he describes as "worse than alcoholism... worse than cancer." Matthau never overcame his addiction, frequently working just to pay off debts. The enduring partnership between Matthau and Jack Lemmon supplies an opportunity for an in-depth portrait of both men, and Matthau's hatred of Hello, Dolly co-star Barbra Streisand, though familiar, gives the book an emotional bite. All the major points of Matthau's life are covered: winning an Oscar for The Fortune Cookie; his happy second marriage and intense adoration for his son, Charlie; his heavy smoking, multiple heart attacks and final bout with liver cancer. Although the writing style is undramatic and is often a low-key recitation of names, dates and events, there's enough fascinating new material to attract Matthau's many fans. Photos. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780878332748
  • Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/25/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST TAYLOR
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,016,133
  • Product dimensions: 6.22 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

Rob Edelman and , authors of Meet the Mertzes, Angela Lansbury: A Life on Stage and Screen, and The John Travolta Scrapbook, are both lecturers in film history at the State University of New York-Albany. They live in Amsterdam, New York.
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Table of Contents

MATUSCHANASKAYASKY?
DREAMING THE DREAM
BUILDING CONFIDENCE
THE GAMBLER
WAR STORIES
"POSSIBILITY, COMEDY"
GERI
STAGE PRESENCE
LIVE FROM NEW YORK
"TO THE ENDS OF THE UNIVERSE"
THE FAMILY
SUPPORTING ACTOR
FOOTNOTES IN A FILMOGRAPHY
BACK TO THE BOARDS
OSCAR
"WHIPLASH WILLIE"
ODD COUPLE REDUX
CHARACTER ACTOR/STAR
WEST COAST LIFE
L'AFFIARE STREISAND
BUILDING ON SUCCESS
RETURN TO ROOTS
"...HE THOUGHT HE WAS GOING TO DIE"
AGING STAR
PERSONALITY
A STAR IS REBORN
THE RETURN OF OSCAR AND FELIX
"MY BEST FRIEND"
ON THE DECLINE
A GOOD LIFE

Credits and Awards

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2007

    Great book,but hard to read.

    Matthau:A Life,is a great book,but it's grusome . It gives a profile of what life was like for Jews during the 1920s. Matthau was an amzing man. He struggled through poverty and became a star. One of the most interesting things he says in this book is'I really felt silly about playing Mr.Wilson in Dennis The Menace,because it's a children's movie.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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