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Nat Pendleton
Nat Pendleton in The Great Ziegfeld trailer.jpg
Nathaniel Greene Pendleton

(1895-08-09)August 9, 1895
DiedOctober 12, 1967(1967-10-12) (aged 72)
Alma materColumbia University (BA)
OccupationActor, wrestler
Years active1913–1956
Spouse(s)Barbara Evelyn (m.?-1967; his death)
Juanita Alfonzo (m.?-?)

Nathaniel Greene Pendleton (August 9, 1895 – October 12, 1967) was an American Olympic wrestler, film actor, and stage performer.[1] His younger brother, Edmund J. Pendleton (1899-1987), was a well-known music composer and choir master and organist for the American Church in Paris.

Early life and wrestling career

Nat Pendleton was born as Nathaniel Greene Pendleton in 1895 in Davenport, Iowa to Adelaide E. and Nathaniel G. Pendleton, who was reportedly a descendant of American Revolutionary general Nathanael Greene.[2][3] Nat studied at Columbia University, where he began his wrestling career and served as captain of the school's team in that sport.[3] He was twice Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) champion in 1914 and 1915. Chosen to compete on the United States wrestling team at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium, Pendleton lost only one match during the competition and was awarded a silver medal.[4] Some controversy continues to surround that outcome. Both Pendleton's Olympic coach, George Pinneo, and his teammate, Fred Meyer, insisted that he won his final match and should have been awarded the gold medal. Pinneo later recalled that loss as the "most unpopular of many unsatisfactory decisions," and Meyer stated, "Pendleton was the winner of that contest, no ifs or buts."[5] Returning to the US he became a professional wrestler and teamed up with promoter Jack Curley. Curley was aggressively promoting Pendleton and issued a series of haughty challenges, among them boasting that Pendleton could beat Ed "Strangler" Lewis and any other wrestler on the same night. John Pesek was enlisted to face Pendleton, and in a legitimate contest held on January 25, 1923, Pesek defeated and injured Pendleton.[6] Pendleton then began appearing in Hollywood films in uncredited parts and minor roles by the mid-1920s.

Film and stage career

Pendleton was cast in at least 94 short films and features, most often being typecast in supporting roles, usually as "befuddled good guys" or as slow-witted thugs, gangsters, and policemen.[3] He appears, for example, in the 1932 comedy Horse Feathers starring the Marx Brothers, performing in that film as one of two college football players who kidnap Harpo and Chico. In the 1936 production The Great Ziegfeld, he portrays the circus strongman Eugen Sandow, a role that brought him the best reviews of his career.

Pendleton appears again as a circus strongman in the Marx Brothers' 1939 feature At the Circus. He can be seen as well in recurring roles in two MGM film series from the 1930s and 1940s. He is Joe Wayman, the ambulance driver, in MGM's Dr. Kildare series and in its spin-off series Dr. Gillespie. He also portrays New York police lieutenant John Guild in The Thin Man series. The former wrestler's final screen appearances are the 1947 releases Scared to Death with Bela Lugosi and Buck Privates Come Home starring Abbott and Costello.

Although Pendleton's professional career outside the wrestling ring was predominantly devoted to film work, he also performed in some stage productions, including in the Broadway plays Naughty Cinderella in 1925 and The Gray Fox in 1928.[3]


Pendleton died in a San Diego, California hospital in 1967 after suffering a heart attack.[3]


Pendleton is a member of several halls of fame: the Glen Brand Wrestling Hall of Fame in Waterloo, Iowa,[7] the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in Cresco, Iowa,[8] and the Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame.[9] In 2015, his biography was published. Written by Mike Chapman, a veteran wrestling author and historian, it is titled Pendleton: The Amazing Story of Columbia’s Wrestling Olympian and Star of Hollywood.[10]


Year Film Role Director Notes
1913 The Battle of Gettysburg Thomas H. Ince unconfirmed
1924 The Hoosier Schoolmaster Bud Means Oliver L. Sellers
1924 Monsieur Beaucaire Barber Sidney Olcott uncredited
1926 Let's Get Married Jimmy Gregory La Cava
1929 The Laughing Lady James Dugan Victor Schertzinger
1930 The Big Pond Pat O'Day Hobart Henley
1930 La grande mare Pat O'Day Hobart Henley
1930 The Last of the Duanes Bossamer Alfred L. Werker uncredited
1930 The Sea Wolf Smoke Alfred Santell
1931 Seas Beneath 'Butch' Wagner John Ford uncredited
1931 Fair Warning Purvis Alfred L. Werker
1931 Mr. Lemon of Orange Gangster uncredited
1931 The Star Witness Big Jack William A. Wellman
1931 The Spirit of Notre Dame Assistant Coach Russell Mack
1931 The Ruling Voice Board Member Rowland V. Lee uncredited
1931 Blonde Crazy aka Pete Roy Del Ruth
1931 The Secret Witness Gunner (Bodyguard) Thornton Freeland
1931 The Star Witness Gunner (Bodyguard) William A. Wellman
1931 Manhattan Parade Lady Godiva's Husband Lloyd Bacon uncredited
1931 The Pottsville Palooka Spike Mulligan Short
1932 Taxi! Truck Driver Bull Martin Roy Del Ruth uncredited
1932 The Beast of the City Abe Gorman Charles Brabin uncredited
1932 A Fool's Advice Naughty Boy Ralph Ceder
1932 Hell Fire Austin Bouncer Forrest Sheldon
1932 The Big Timer Kid Melrose Edward Buzzell uncredited
1932 Play Girl Dance Hall Plumber Ray Enright scenes deleted
1932 Girl Crazy Motorcycle Cop William A. Seiter uncredited
1932 State's Attorney the Boxer George Archainbaud uncredited
1932 Attorney for the Defense Mugg Irving Cummings
1932 The Tenderfoot Joe (Jealous Husband) Ray Enright uncredited
1932 By Whose Hand? Delmar
1932 Horse Feathers Darwin football player MacHardie Norman Z. McLeod uncredited
1932 Exposure Maniac Killer
1932 The Night Club Lady Mike McDougal Irving Cummings
1932 Deception Bucky O'Neill Lewis Seiler
1932 The Sign of the Cross Strabo Cecil B. DeMille
1932 Flesh Wrestler John Ford uncredited
1933 Whistling in the Dark Joe Salvatore Charles Reisner
1933 Parachute Jumper Motorcycle Policeman Alfred E. Green uncredited
1933 Goldie Gets Along Motorcycle Officer Cassidy Malcolm St. Clair
1933 Child of Manhattan Spyrene Edward Buzzell
1933 The White Sister Corporal Cessano Victor FlemingCullen Tate uncredited
1933 Infernal Machine French Thug Marcel VarnelMartin Santell uncredited
1933 The Nuisance Aloysius P. McCarthy Jack Conway uncredited
1933 Baby Face Stolvich (Laborer) Alfred E. Green uncredited
1933 Lady for a Day Shakespeare Frank Capra
1933 Penthouse Tony Gazotti W. S. Van Dyke
1933 I'm No Angel Harry (Acrobat) Wesley Ruggles uncredited
1933 The Chief Big Mike, a Henchman Charles Reisner
1933 College Coach Ladislaus Petrowski William A. Wellman
1934 Lazy River Legs Caffey George B. Seitz
1934 Fugitive Lovers Alfred 'Tiny' Smith Richard Boleslavsky
1934 Sing and Like It T. Fenny Sylvester William A. Seiter
1934 Manhattan Melodrama Spud George Cukor (uncredited)
1934 The Thin Man Guild W. S. Van Dyke
1934 The Defense Rests Rocky Lambert Hillyer
1934 The Cat's-Paw Strozzi Sam Taylor
1934 The Girl from Missouri Lifeguard Jack Conway
1934 Straight Is the Way Skippy Paul Sloane
1934 Death on the Diamond Harry O'Toole Edward Sedgwick
1934 The Gay Bride William T. 'Shoots' Magiz Jack Conway
1935 Times Square Lady Mack George B. Seitz
1935 Baby Face Harrington Rocky Raoul Walsh
1935 Reckless Blossom Victor Fleming
1935 Murder in the Fleet 'Spud' Burke Edward Sedgwick
1935 Calm Yourself Knuckles Benedict George B. Seitz
1935 Here Comes the Band 'Piccolo Pete' Paul Sloane
1935 It's in the Air Henry Potke Charles Reisner
1935 The Garden Murder Case Sergeant Heath Edwin L. Marin
1935 The Great Ziegfeld Sandow Robert Z. Leonard
1936 Trapped by Television Rocky O'Neil Del Lord
1936 Sworn Enemy 'Steamer' Krupp Edwin L. Marin
1936 The Luckiest Girl in the World Dugan Edward Buzzell
1936 Two in a Crowd Flynn Alfred E. Green
1936 Sing Me a Love Song Rocky Ray Enright
1937 Under Cover of Night Sergeant Lucks George B. Seitz
1937 Song of the City Benvenuto Romandi Errol Taggart
1937 Gangway Smiles Hogan Sonnie Hale
1937 Life Begins in College George Black aka Little Black Cloud William A. Seiter
1938 Swing Your Lady Joe Skopapolous Ray Enright
1938 Arsène Lupin Returns Joe Doyle George Fitzmaurice
1938 Fast Company Paul Terison Edward Buzzell
1938 The Shopworn Angel 'Dice' H.C. Potter
1938 The Chaser 'Floppy' Phil Edwin L. Marin
1938 The Crowd Roars 'Pug' Walsh Richard Thorpe
1938 Young Dr. Kildare Joe Wayman Harold S. Bucquet
1939 Burn 'Em Up O'Connor Buddy Buttle Edward Sedgwick
1939 Calling Dr. Kildare Wayman Harold S. Bucquet
1939 It's a Wonderful World Sergeant Fred Koretz W. S. Van Dyke
1939 6,000 Enemies 'Socks' Martin George B. Seitz
1939 On Borrowed Time Mr. Grimes Harold S. Bucquet
1939 At the Circus Goliath the Strongman Edward Buzzell
1939 Another Thin Man Lieutenant Guild W. S. Van Dyke
1939 The Secret of Dr. Kildare Joe Wayman Harold S. Bucquet
1940 Northwest Passage 'Cap' Huff King Vidor
1940 The Ghost Comes Home Roscoe Wilhelm Thiele
1940 Dr. Kildare's Strange Case Joe Wayman, Ambulance Driver Harold S. Bucquet
1940 Phantom Raiders 'Gunboat' Jacklin Jacques Tourneur
1940 New Moon Bondsman W. S. Van Dyke uncredited
1940 The Golden Fleecing 'Fatso' Werner Leslie Fenton
1940 Dr. Kildare Goes Home Wayman Harold S. Bucquet
1940 Dr. Kildare's Crisis Joe Wayman Harold S. Bucquet
1940 Flight Command CPO 'Spike' Knowles Frank Borzage
1941 Buck Privates Sgt. Michael Collins Arthur Lubin
1941 Top Sergeant Mulligan Top Sgt. Herman Mulligan Jean Yarbrough
1942 Jail House Blues Sonny McGann Albert S. Rogell
1942 The Mad Doctor of Market Street Red Hogan Joseph H. Lewis
1942 Calling Dr. Gillespie Joe Wayman Harold S. Bucquet
1942 Dr. Gillespie's New Assistant Joe Weyman Willis Goldbeck
1943 Dr. Gillespie's Criminal Case Joe Wayman Willis Goldbeck
1943 Swing Fever 'Killer' Kennedy Tim Whelan
1946 Death Valley Jim Ward Lew Landers
1947 Scared to Death Bill Raymond Christy Cabanne
1947 Buck Privates Come Home Sergeant Collins Charles Barton
1951-1959 Schlitz Playhouse Otto "Bitsy" Lamb Richard Whorf TV Series; final appearance


  1. ^ "Nat Pendleton". Olympedia. Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  2. ^ Rainho, Manny (August 2015). "This Month in Movie History". Classic Images (482): 24–26.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Nat Pendleton, Movie Character Actor, Dies", Los Angeles Times, October 13, 1967, section II, p. 8. ProQuest Historical Newspapers.
  4. ^ "Nat Pendleton". Archived from the original on 2020-04-18. Retrieved 2013-09-01.
  5. ^ Chapman, Mike. Pendleton: The Amazing Story of Columbia's Wrestling Olympian and Star of Hollywood. p. 30.
  6. ^ "Pendleton's unparalleled route: Olympics, pros, Hollywood". 25 May 2006.
  7. ^ "National Wrestling Hall of Fame".
  8. ^ "Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame".
  9. ^ "Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame".
  10. ^ "Mike Chapman's website".

External links

This page was last edited on 17 August 2022, at 14:56
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