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Walter Brennan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Walter Brennan
Brennan in The Real McCoys (1958)
Walter Andrew Brennan

(1894-07-25)July 25, 1894
DiedSeptember 21, 1974(1974-09-21) (aged 80)
Resting placeSan Fernando Mission Cemetery, Los Angeles, U.S.
  • Actor
  • singer
Years active1925–1972
Known for
Political partyRepublican
American Independent Party (1968, 1972)
Ruth Wells
(m. 1920)
AwardsThree Academy Awards

Walter Andrew Brennan (July 25, 1894 – September 21, 1974) was an American actor and singer.[1] He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performances in Come and Get It (1936), Kentucky (1938) and The Westerner (1940), making him one of only three male actors to win three Academy Awards, and the only male or female actor to win three awards in the supporting actor category. Brennan was also nominated for his performance in Sergeant York (1941). Other noteworthy performances were in To Have and Have Not (1944), My Darling Clementine (1946), Red River (1948) and Rio Bravo (1959). On television, he starred in the sitcom The Real McCoys (1957-1963).

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Off-Screen, Walter Brennan Was the Most Evil Man in Hollywood
  • Walter Brennan & Gale Sondergaard @ 9th Academy Awards (Oscars of 1937)
  • Debbie Reynolds, Walter Brennan, Charlie Ruggles, 1960 TV
  • Walter Brennan Was The Most Evil Man in Hollywood
  • Walter Brennan's Grave


Early life

Brennan was born in Lynn, Massachusetts on July 25 1894, less than two miles from his family's home in Swampscott, Massachusetts.[2] His parents were both Irish immigrants.[3] His father was an engineer and inventor, and young Brennan also studied engineering at Rindge Technical High School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[4]

While working as a bank clerk, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served as a private with the 101st Field Artillery Regiment in France during World War I.[2][5] He served in France for two years.[6] "While there, he suffered an injury to his vocal cords from exposure to mustard gas that left him with his screen trademark: a distinctively reedy, high-pitched voice that became a favorite for celebrity impersonators for decades."[7]

After the war, he worked as a financial reporter for a newspaper in Boston.[8] During the early 1920s, he made a fortune in the real estate market, but lost most of his money during a real estate slump.[4]


Early work

Brennan in Affairs of Cappy Ricks (1937)

Finding himself penniless, Brennan began taking parts as an extra in films at Universal Studios in 1925, starting at $7.50 a day, equal to $130.3 today. He wound up working at Universal off and on for the next ten years.[9]

His early appearances included Webs of Steel (1925), Lorraine of the Lions (1925) and The Calgary Stampede (1925), a Hoot Gibson Western. Brennan was also in Watch Your Wife (1926), The Ice Flood (1926), Spangles (1926), The Collegians (1926, a short), Flashing Oars (1926, a short), Sensation Seekers (1927), Tearin' Into Trouble (1927), The Ridin' Rowdy (1927), Alias the Deacon (1927), Blake of Scotland Yard (1927) (a serial), Hot Heels (1927), Painting the Town (1928) and The Ballyhoo Buster (1928). The latter was directed by Richard Thorpe who would use Brennan as an extra several times on films.

Brennan had minor roles in The Racket (1928) from Howard Hughes, The Michigan Kid (1928), Silks and Saddles (1929), The Cohens and the Kellys in Atlantic City (1929) and Smilin' Guns (1929) and The Lariat Kid (1929) with Gibson. He also worked as a stand in.[10]

Brennan was in His Lucky Day (1929), Frank Capra's Flight (1929), One Hysterical Night (1929) (a bigger role), The Last Performance (1929), The Long Long Trail (1929) with Gibson and The Shannons of Broadway (1929).

Other Brennan appearances included Dames Ahoy! (1930), Captain of the Guard (1930), King of Jazz (1930) (Brennan said he played nine parts but when he saw the film "I sneezed and I missed myself"),[9] The Little Accident (1930), Parlez Vous (1930), (a short), See America Thirst (1930) with Harry Langdon and Slim Summerville and Ooh La-La (1930), (another short).

The following year Brennan had more small roles in Hello Russia (1931, a short with Slim Summerville), Many a Slip (1931) with Summerville, Heroes of the Flames (1931) a serial with Tim McCoy, Honeymoon Lane (1931), Dancing Dynamite (1931), Grief Street (1931) directed by Richard Thorpe and Is There Justice? (1931).

Brennan had a bigger role in Neck and Neck (1931), directed by Richard Thorpe. His parts tended to remain small, however: A House Divided (1931) for director William Wyler, Scratch-As-Catch-Can (1931, a Bobby Clark short directed by Mark Sandrich), and Texas Cyclone (1931, a Tim McCoy Western featuring a young John Wayne).

In 1932 Brennan was in Law and Order (1932) with Walter Huston, The Impatient Maiden (1932) for James Whale, The Airmail Mystery (1932, a serial) and Scandal for Sale (1932). He did another with John Wayne, Two-Fisted Law (1932) though the star was Tim McCoy.

Brennan was in Hello Trouble (1932) with Buck Jones, Speed Madness (1932), Miss Pinkerton (1932) with Joan Bennett, Cornered (1932) with McCoy, The Iceman's Ball (1932, another short for Sandrich), Fighting for Justice (1932) with McCoy, The Fourth Horseman (1932) with Tom Mix, The All American (1932), Once in a Lifetime (1932), Strange Justice (1932), Women Won't Tell (1932) for Richard Thorpe, Afraid to Talk (1932) and Manhattan Tower (1932).

Brennan was in Sensation Hunters (1933) for Charles Vidor, Man of Action (1933) with McCoy, Parachute Jumper (1933), Goldie Gets Along (1933), Girl Missing (1933), Rustlers' Roundup (1933) with Mix, The Cohens and Kellys in Trouble (1933) for director George Stevens, Lucky Dog (1933) and The Big Cage (1933). His scenes in William Wellman's Lilly Turner (1933) were deleted.

Brennan did another serial, The Phantom of the Air (1933), then Strange People (1933) for Thorpe, Meet the Champ (1933, a short), Sing Sinner Sing (1933), One Year Later (1933), Sailors Beware! (1933, a short), Golden Harvest (1933), Ladies Must Love (1933), Saturday's Millions (1933), Curtain at Eight (1933) and My Woman (1933).

James Whale gave him a bit part in The Invisible Man (1933) and he could be seen in King for a Night (1933), Fugitive Lovers (1933), Cross Country Cruise (1934), Beloved (1934), You Can't Buy Everything (1934), Paradise Valley (1934), Radio Dough (1934, a short), The Poor Rich (1934), The Crosby Murder Case (1934), George White's Scandals (1934), Good Girl (1934), Riptide (1934), Uncertain Lady (1934), I'll Tell the World (1934) and Fishing for Trouble (1934, a short).

Brennan was in the Three Stooges short Woman Haters (1934), then did Half a Sinner (1934), The Life of Vergie Winters (1934), Murder on the Runaway Train (1934), Whom the Gods Destroy (1934), Gentlemen of Polish (1934, a short), Death on the Diamond (1934), Great Expectations (1934), Luck of the Game (1934), Tailspin Tommy (1934, a serial), There's Always Tomorrow (1934) and Cheating Cheaters (1934).

Brennan was back with McCoy for The Prescott Kid (1934) and could be seen in The Painted Veil (1934), Biography of a Bachelor Girl (1935), Helldorado (1935), Brick-a-Brac (1935) an Edgar Kennedy short, Northern Frontier (1935), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935) and Law Beyond the Range (1935) with McCoy. He also had a brief uncredited role in Bride of Frankenstein (1935) starring Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster.

Around this time, Brennan received what he later described as "the luckiest break in the world." He was acting in a fight scene when an actor kicked him in the face and knocked out all of his teeth. As a result, Brennan wore false teeth. He said, "I looked all right off the set, but when necessary I could take 'em out and suddenly look about 40 years older."[6]

Brennan appeared in another Three Stooges short, Restless Knights, and a short titled Hunger Pains in 1935.

Work at MGM

A break for Brennan came when he was cast in The Wedding Night (1935), produced by Sam Goldwyn, alongside Gary Cooper (it was actually their second film together). He was only an extra, but his part was expanded during filming and it resulted in Brennan's getting a contract with Goldwyn.[6][11][12]

Goldwyn mostly loaned out Brennan's services to other studios. MGM put him in West Point of the Air (1935). He was reunited with Whale in Bride of Frankenstein (1935), in which he had a brief speaking part and also worked as a stuntman.

Brennan's parts remained small in Party Wire (1935), Spring Tonic (1935), The Gay Lady (1935), Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935) and Welcome Home (1935). He did a short, The Perfect Tribute (1935) and was in George Stevens' Alice Adams (1935), but his scenes were deleted.

He could be seen in We're in the Money (1935) and She Couldn't Take It (1935).

Move to supporting actor

Brennan finally earned significant roles with a decent part in Goldwyn's Barbary Coast (1935), directed by Howard Hawks and an uncredited William Wyler.[13] "That really set me up", Brennan said later.[6]

He followed with small appearances in Metropolitan (1935) and Seven Keys to Baldpate (1935).

He had one of the leads in Three Godfathers (1936) playing one of the title outlaws.

He had a small role in These Three (1936) with Wyler and a larger one in Walter Wanger's The Moon's Our Home (1936) and Fury (1936), directed by Fritz Lang.

First Oscar: Come and Get It (1936)

Brennan's breakthrough part came when cast by Howard Hawks as Swan Bostrom in the period film Come and Get It (1936), playing the sidekick of Edward Arnold who eventually marries the girl Arnold abandons (played by Frances Farmer). Producer Sam Goldwyn fired Hawks during filming and replaced him with William Wyler. Brennan's performance earned him the first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Brennan followed it with support parts in Banjo on My Knee (1936) at Fox, She's Dangerous (1937), and When Love is Young (1937). Goldwyn announced him for a role in The Real Glory in 1936, but he ended up not appearing in the final film.[14]

Brennan had his first lead role in Affairs of Cappy Ricks (1937) at Republic Pictures. He followed it with the co-starring part in Fox's Wild and Woolly (1937), billed second after Jane Withers. He was in The Buccaneer (1938), directed by Cecil B. DeMille.[15]

Brennan portrayed town drunk and accused murderer Muff Potter in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938).

Brennan followed it with The Texans (1938), Mother Carey's Chickens (1938) and Goldwyn's The Cowboy and the Lady (1938) with Gary Cooper – the first time Brennan played Cooper's sidekick.

Second Oscar: Kentucky (1938)

Brennan won his second Best Supporting Oscar for Kentucky (1938), a horse racing film from 20th Century Fox with Loretta Young.

He supported Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939). Brennan also appeared in Melody of Youth (1939), and Stanley and Livingstone (1939) at Fox.[12] At MGM he was in Joe and Ethel Turp Call on the President (1939).

Throughout his career, Brennan was frequently called upon to play characters considerably older than he was. The loss of many teeth in the 1932 accident, rapidly thinning hair, thin build, and unusual vocal intonations all made him seem older than he was. He used these features to great effect. In many of his film roles, Brennan wore dentures; in MGM's Northwest Passage (1940) – a film set in the late 18th century – he wore a dental prosthesis which made him appear to have rotting and broken teeth. Brennan was billed third in Northwest Passage after Spencer Tracy and Robert Young.

Zanuck at Fox announced he wanted to make The Man from Home, once a vehicle for Will Rogers, with Brennan.[16] Instead Brennan was top-billed in Fox's Maryland (1940), an attempt to repeat the success of Kentucky.[17] Brennan said he had been working constantly since Christmas 1937. "I'm just plain punch drunk", he said.[18]

Third Oscar: The Westerner (1940)

Brennan had one of his best roles in Goldwyn's The Westerner (1940), playing the villainous Judge Roy Bean opposite Gary Cooper. William Wyler directed and the film earned Brennan his third Best Supporting Actor Oscar within a five-year span.

Goldwyn bought Trading Post as a vehicle for Brennan, but the film never materialized.[19]

Brennan next supported Deanna Durbin in Nice Girl? (1941) and then Cooper again in Frank Capra's Meet John Doe (1941) and Hawks' Sergeant York (1941), a role that earned Brennan a fourth Oscar nomination. He could also be seen in This Woman is Mine (1941) as a sea captain.

Brennan played the top-billed lead in Swamp Water (1941), the first American film by director Jean Renoir. He appeared in Rise and Shine (1941) and then played reporter Sam Blake in Pride of the Yankees (1942).

Brennan appeared in the war films Stand By for Action (1942) and Hangmen Also Die! (1943), in which he played a Czech professor. He also appeared in Slightly Dangerous (1943), The Last Will and Testament of Tom Smith (1943) and Goldwyn's Russian war epic The North Star (1943).[20]

He was top-billed in a follow-up to Kentucky and Maryland at Fox, Home in Indiana (1944).

Brennan was particularly skilled in playing the sidekick of the protagonist or the "grumpy old man" in films such as Hawks' To Have and Have Not (1944).

Brennan was a comic pirate in the Bob Hope film The Princess and the Pirate (1944). He was teamed with John Wayne for the first time since both men had obtained stardom in Dakota (1945), directed by Joseph Kane. He supported Bette Davis in A Stolen Life (1946) and appeared in the Fox musical Centennial Summer (1946).

Western roles

Brennan returned as a villain as Old Man Clanton in John Ford's My Darling Clementine (1946), opposite Henry Fonda. He followed this with parts in Nobody Lives Forever (1946) at Warner Bros.[21] and Republic's Driftwood (1947).

He appeared in another Americana film at Fox, Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1948), and then in one of the greatest films in his career, Red River (1948), playing John Wayne's sidekick.

After supporting Robert Mitchum in Blood on the Moon (1948), he played another kindly father role in The Green Promise (1949). Brennan was billed second to Rod Cameron in Brimstone (1949), and he supported Gary Cooper in Task Force (1949).

Brennan focused on Westerns: Singing Guns (1950), A Ticket to Tomahawk (1950), Curtain Call at Cactus Creek (1950), The Showdown (1950), Surrender (1950), Along the Great Divide (1951), Best of the Badmen (1951) and Return of the Texan (1952).

He appeared in the war films The Wild Blue Yonder (1951) and Lure of the Wilderness (1952), a remake of Swamp Water in which he reprised his role, although with less screen time than in the original film.

Brennan was in Sea of Lost Ships (1953) with John Derek, Drums Across the River (1954) with Audie Murphy, The Far Country (1954) with James Stewart and Four Guns to the Border (1954) with Rory Calhoun.[22] He also appeared in Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) for MGM.

Later work

Work on television

Brennan began to work on television, guest-starring on episodes of Screen Directors Playhouse, Lux Video Theatre, Schlitz Playhouse, Ethel Barrymore Theater, Cavalcade of America and The Ford Television Theatre. He played the old outlaw Joe in the 1956 episode "Vengeance Canyon" of Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre.[23]

He appeared as himself as a musical judge in the 1953–1954 ABC series Jukebox Jury. Brennan later said that he preferred television to films because there were not "long layoffs between jobs."[11]

He continued to appear in movies such as Gunpoint! (1955) and The Proud Ones (1956) and was in a short film about Israel, Man on a Bus (1955).

Brennan appeared in films such as Glory (1956), Come Next Spring (1956) and Batjac's Good-bye My Lady (1956) with 14-year-old Brandon deWilde, with whom he recorded The Stories of Mark Twain that same year.[24]

He appeared in The Way to the Gold (1957) and played Debbie Reynolds' grandfather in the romantic comedy Tammy and the Bachelor (1957).

Brennan was given another lead role in God Is My Partner (1957), a low-budget film that became a surprise hit.[25]

The Real McCoys

Brennan in Rio Bravo (1959)

Brennan had resisted overtures to star in a regular TV series but relented for The Real McCoys, a sitcom about a poor West Virginia family that relocated to a farm in Southern California.[26] It was a hit and ran from 1957 to 1963.[27]

Brennan continued to appear in films and other TV shows during the series' run such as Colgate Theatre and another Howard Hawks picture, Rio Bravo (1959), supporting John Wayne and Dean Martin.

After five years on ABC, The Real McCoys switched to CBS for a final season. Brennan joined with series creator Irving Pincus to form Brennan-Westgate Productions.[24] The series was coproduced with Danny Thomas's Marterto Productions. It also featured Richard Crenna, Kathleen Nolan, Lydia Reed and Michael Winkelman.[28]

For Brennan Productions, Brennan starred in Shoot Out at Big Sag (1962). He appeared as a villainous river pirate in MGM's epic How the West Was Won (1963).

Singing career

Following Brennan's success with The Real McCoys, he performed on several recordings. The most popular of these was "Old Rivers", a song about an old farmer and his mule. It was released as a single in 1962 by Liberty Records with "The Epic Ride of John H. Glenn" on the flip side. "Old Rivers" peaked at #5 on the U.S. Billboard chart, making the 67 year-old Brennan the oldest living person to have a Top 40 hit at the time.[29] At age 68, Brennan reached the Top 40 again, this time with "Mama Sang a Song" on November 17, 1962.

After The Real McCoys ended, Brennan provided the voice for a cartoon of The Shooting of Dan McGrew.

Other TV roles and Disney

Brennan starred as the wealthy executive Walter Andrews in the short-lived 1964–1965 ABC series The Tycoon, with Van Williams.

Brennan had a support part in Those Calloways (1965), his first Disney film, again paired with Brandon deWilde. He had a small role in The Oscar (1966).

Walter Brennan in The Guns of Will Sonnett (1967)

In 1967, he starred in another ABC series, The Guns of Will Sonnett (1967–1969), as an older man in search of his gunfighter son. It ran for two seasons.[30]

Brennan was top-billed in Disney's The Gnome-Mobile (1967) and made a pilot for the TV series Horatio Alger Jones, which did not become a series.[31]

After a support role in Who's Minding the Mint? (1967), he returned to Disney for The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (1968).

Brennan had a part as the villain in Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969) with James Garner.

Later career

Brennan received top billing over Pat O'Brien in the TV movie The Over-the-Hill Gang (1969) and Fred Astaire in The Over-the-Hill Gang Rides Again (1970).,

He joined the second season of the CBS sitcom To Rome with Love (1969–1971) with John Forsythe.[32] This was Brennan's last television series as a member of the permanent cast, although he did make a number of appearances on Alias Smith and Jones.[33]

Around this time he also starred in the TV movies The Young Country (1970), Two for the Money (1972) and Home for the Holidays (1972). He was announced for a Western that was not made, One Day in Eden.[33]

He started filming Herbie Rides Again (1973) for Disney but fell ill and was replaced.[34]

Brennan's last screen appearance was in the Western Smoke in the Wind (1975), directed by Joseph Kane.

Personal life

The Real McCoys (1962), L-R: Tony Martínez, Walter Brennan, Richard Crenna

In 1920, Brennan married Ruth Caroline Wells. They had three children in their 54-year marriage: Arthur, Walter and Ruth.[35]

In 1940, Brennan purchased the 12,000-acre Lightning Creek Ranch, 20 miles north of Joseph, Oregon. He built the Indian Lodge Motel, a movie theater and a variety store in Joseph, and continued retreating to the ranch between film roles until his death. Some members of his family continue to live in the area.

Brennan's grave at San Fernando Mission Cemetery

Brennan spent his last years mostly in retirement at his ranch in Moorpark in Ventura County, California. He died of emphysema on September 21, 1974, at the age of 80 in Oxnard, California.[36] His remains were interred at San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Los Angeles.[37]

Religious and political views

Brennan, a Roman Catholic, did not publicize his own religious affiliation, but declared in 1964, "I'm too old not to be a religious fella... It appears we are losing something a lot of people made a lot of sacrifices for."[38] That year, Brennan spoke at Project Prayer, a rally attended by 2,500 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The gathering, hosted by Anthony Eisley, sought to flood Congress with letters in support of school prayer following two decisions by the Supreme Court in 1962 and 1963 that had invalidated the practice of mandatory prayer in public schools, which the court ruled to have conflicted with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.[38]

According to his biographer Carl Rollyson, Brennan was fiercely opposed to communism and reportedly branded people as communists if they supported John F. Kennedy. Rollyson wrote that Brennan "thought that the Watts riots could have been stopped 'with a machine gun'." Rollyson also reported that Brennan's home "included a bunker stocked with weapons and food in anticipation of a Soviet invasion." Brennan reportedly expressed satisfaction at the murder of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., much to the shock of the cast and crew of The Guns of Will Sonnett, and also rejoiced in the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.[39] Everett Greenbaum, who wrote 32 episodes of The Real McCoys, described Brennan as a bigot who frequently uttered racist remarks.[40]

A staunch conservative Republican and a member of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, Brennan supported Barry Goldwater in the 1964 United States presidential election because Goldwater had voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but Brennan later endorsed George Wallace in 1968, believing that Richard Nixon was too liberal for a Republican. In 1972, Brennan endorsed far-right candidate John Schmitz, who like Brennan, was a member of the John Birch Society. Brennan served as finance chairman and narrated advertisements in support of Schmitz's campaign.[41][42] Brennan also endorsed Ronald Reagan in the 1966 California gubernatorial election and in his reelection in 1970.[43][35]


One film critic regards Brennan as one of the finest character actors in motion picture history. While the roles that he played were diverse, he may be best remembered for his portrayals in Western films such as those of Judge Roy Bean in The Westerner, trail hand Nadine Groot in Red River and Deputy Stumpy in Rio Bravo. He was the first actor to win three Academy Awards and remains the only person to have won the Best Supporting Actor award three times. However, he remained somewhat embarrassed about how he had won the awards; in the early years of the Academy Awards, extras could vote, and Brennan was popular with the extras' union.[44] His third win prompted the disenfranchisement of the union from Oscar voting.[45] Following this change, Brennan failed to win the Oscar for his fourth Best Supporting Actor nomination in 1941 for Sergeant York. (The award went to Donald Crisp for How Green Was My Valley instead.)

Brennan played more than 230 film and television roles during a career that spanned nearly five decades. For his contributions to the film industry, he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6501 Hollywood Boulevard.[46] In 1970, he was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, where his photograph hangs prominently.[47]



Year Title Role Notes
1925 Webs of Steel Performer uncredited
Lorraine of the Lions Minor role uncredited
The Calgary Stampede Racing spectator uncredited
1926 Watch Your Wife Performer
The Ice Flood Lumberjack uncredited
Spangles Lunch counterman uncredited
1927 Sensation Seekers Below deck yacht crewman uncredited
Tearin' Into Trouble Billy Martin
The Ridin' Rowdy Performer
Alias the Deacon Cashier at Cunningham's Rink uncredited
Blake of Scotland Yard Henchman uncredited
Hot Heels Pool hall inhabitant uncredited
1928 The Ballyhoo Buster Performer
The Michigan Kid Minor role uncredited
The Racket Man in front of barber shop uncredited
1929 Silks and Saddles Undetermined role uncredited
The Cohens and Kellys in Atlantic City Man at police station uncredited
Smilin' Guns Ranch Foreman
The Lariat Kid Pat O'Shea
His Lucky Day Roadhouse hhug uncredited
Flight Marine pilot uncredited
One Hysterical Night Paul Revere
The Last Performance Clown uncredited
The Long Long Trail Skinny Rawlins
The Shannons of Broadway Hez
1930 Dames Ahoy! Side show barker uncredited
Captain of the Guard Peasant uncredited
King of Jazz Various roles
The Little Accident Milkman uncredited
See America Thirst Spumoni bodyguard uncredited
Many a Slip Minor role uncredited
1931 Honeymoon Lane Driver
Heroes of the Flames Bit Part [Ch. 12] – uncredited
Dancing Dynamite Henchman
Grief Street Walt
Is There Justice? Rollins
Neck and Neck Hector
Scratch-As-Catch-Can Performer Short film
A House Divided Musician uncredited
1932 Horse Feathers Football commentator uncredited
Texas Cyclone Sheriff Lew Collins
Law and Order Lanky Smith uncredited
The Impatient Maiden Cigar stand proprietor uncredited
The Airmail Mystery Holly
Scandal for Sale Newspaperman uncredited
Two-Fisted Law Deputy Sheriff Bendix
Hello Trouble A Texas Ranger uncredited
Miss Pinkerton Police dispatcher uncredited
Speed Madness Joe
Cornered Court bailiff uncredited
Fighting for Justice Cowhand Fletcher uncredited
The Fourth Horseman Toothless town drunk uncredited
The All American News commentator at game uncredited
Once in a Lifetime Lighting technician uncredited
Strange Justice Eddie – mechanic uncredited
Women Won't Tell Dump workman uncredited
Afraid to Talk Protester sign carrier uncredited
Manhattan Tower Mechanic uncredited
1933 Sensation Hunters Stuttering waiter
Man of Action Cashier Summers
Parachute Jumper Counterman at Jewel Diner uncredited
Goldie Gets Along Stuttering waiter uncredited
Girl Missing Joe-garage attendant uncredited
Rustlers' Roundup Walt uncredited
The Cohens and Kellys in Trouble Bit role uncredited
Lucky Dog Drunk #2
The Big Cage Tickettaker uncredited
Lilly Turner Performer scenes deleted
The Phantom of the Air 'Skid' uncredited
Strange People The radio repairman
Sing Sinner Sing Henchman Riordan
One Year Later Yokel uncredited
Golden Harvest Farmhand at wedding uncredited
Ladies Must Love Flute player uncredited
Saturday's Millions Reporter uncredited
Curtain at Eight Silent detective uncredited
My Woman Stuttering animal imitator uncredited
The Invisible Man Bicycle owner uncredited
King for a Night Soda Jerk uncredited
1934 Fugitive Lovers Second bus driver uncredited
Tailspin Tommy Hospital Orderly [Ch. 8] – uncredited
Cross Country Cruise Niagara Falls boatman uncredited
Beloved Stuttering boarder
You Can't Buy Everything Train Vendor uncredited
Paradise Valley Farmer Hiram
The Poor Rich Dr. Johnson the coroner uncredited
The Crosby Case Ship's officer uncredited
George White's Scandals Hick uncredited
Good Dame Elmer Spicer uncredited
Riptide Chauffeur uncredited
Uncertain Lady Gas station attendant uncredited
I'll Tell the World Otto – Bicycle repairman uncredited
Woman Haters Train Conductor uncredited
Short film
Half a Sinner Radio announcer
The Life of Vergie Winters Roscoe – a gossiper uncredited
Murder in the Private Car Switchman uncredited
Whom the Gods Destroy Clifford uncredited
Death on the Diamond Hotdog vendor uncredited
Great Expectations Prisoner on ship uncredited
Gridiron Flash Diner Proprietor uncredited
There's Always Tomorrow Mechanic uncredited
Cheating Cheaters Ship's telegrapher uncredited
The Prescott Kid Zeke (stage driver)
The Painted Veil Performer scenes deleted
1935 Biography of a Bachelor Girl Reporter on ship uncredited
Helldorado Pete, the Waiter uncredited
Northern Frontier Stuttering cook
The Mystery of Edwin Drood First gossip uncredited
Law Beyond the Range Abner
Restless Knights Father uncredited
Short film
The Wedding Night Bill Jenkins
West Point of the Air Soldier at Kelly's wreckage uncredited
Bride of Frankenstein Neighbor uncredited
Party Wire Paul – railroad telegrapher uncredited
Spring Tonic Bum uncredited
Lady Tubbs Joseph uncredited
Man on the Flying Trapeze 'Legs' Garnett
Welcome Home Walter uncredited
Alice Adams Performer scenes deleted
We're in the Money Wedding witness uncredited
She Couldn't Take It Peddler uncredited
Barbary Coast Old Atrocity
Metropolitan Grandpa uncredited
Seven Keys to Baldpate Station agent
1936 Three Godfathers Sam "Gus" Barton
These Three Taxi driver
The Moon's Our Home Lem
Fury 'Bugs' Meyers
Come and Get It Swan Bostrom
Banjo on My Knee Newt Holley
1937 She's Dangerous Ote O'Leary
When Love Is Young Uncle Hugo
Affairs of Cappy Ricks Cappy Ricks
Wild and Woolly Gramp 'Hercules' Flynn
1938 The Buccaneer Ezra Peaves
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Muff Potter
The Texans Chuckawalla
Mother Carey's Chickens Mr. Ossian Popham
The Cowboy and the Lady Sugar
Kentucky Peter Goodwin
1939 The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle Walter
They Shall Have Music Professor Lawson
Stanley and Livingstone Jeff Slocum
Joe and Ethel Turp Call on the President Jim
1940 Northwest Passage "Hunk" Marriner
Maryland William Stewart
The Westerner Judge Roy Bean
1941 Nice Girl? Hector Titus
Meet John Doe The 'Colonel'
Sergeant York Pastor Rosier Pile
This Woman Is Mine Capt. Jonathan Thorne
Swamp Water Tom Keefer
Rise and Shine Grandpa
1942 The Pride of the Yankees Sam Blake
Stand By for Action Chief Yeoman Henry Johnson
1943 Hangmen Also Die Prof. Stephen Novotny
Slightly Dangerous Cornelius Burden
The North Star Karp
1944 Home in Indiana J. F. "Thunder" Bolt
To Have and Have Not Eddie
The Princess and the Pirate Featherhead
1945 Dakota Capt. Bounce of the Riverbird
1946 A Stolen Life Eben Folger
Centennial Summer Jesse Rogers
My Darling Clementine Newman Haynes Clanton
Nobody Lives Forever Pop Gruber
1947 Driftwood Murph
1948 Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! Tony Maule
Red River Nadine Groot
Blood on the Moon Kris Barden
1949 The Green Promise Mr. Matthews
Brimstone Brimstone "Pop" Courteen
Task Force Pete Richard
1950 Singing Guns Dr. Jonathan Mark
A Ticket to Tomahawk Terence Sweeny
Curtain Call at Cactus Creek Rimrock Thomas
The Showdown Cap Mackellar
Surrender Sheriff Bill Howard
1951 Along the Great Divide Timothy 'Pop' Keith
Best of the Badmen "Doc" Butcher [48]
The Wild Blue Yonder Major General Wolfe
1952 Return of the Texan Grandpa Firth Crockett
Lure of the Wilderness Jim Harper
1953 Sea of Lost Ships C.P.O. "Chief" O'Malley
1954 Drums Across the River Sam Brannon
Four Guns to the Border Simon Bhumer
1955 The Far Country Ben Tatum
Bad Day at Black Rock Doc Velie
At Gunpoint Doc Lacy
1956 Glory Ned Otis
Come Next Spring Jeffrey Storys
The Proud Ones Jake
1956 Good-bye, My Lady Uncle Jesse Jackson
1957 The Way to the Gold Uncle George Williams
1957 Tammy and the Bachelor Grandpa
1957 God Is My Partner Dr. Charles Grayson
1959 Rio Bravo Stumpy
1962 Shoot Out at Big Sag "Preacher" Hawker
1962 How the West Was Won Col. Jeb Hawkins
1965 Those Calloways Alf Simes
1966 The Oscar Orrin C. Quentin
1967 The Gnome-Mobile D.J. Mulrooney/Knobby
1967 Who's Minding the Mint? Pop Gillis
1968 The One and Only, Genuine, 
 Original Family Band
Grandpa Bower
1969 Support Your Local Sheriff! Pa Danby
1975 Smoke in the Wind H. P. Kingman final film role (posthumous release)


Year Title Role Notes
1953–56 Schlitz Playhouse of Stars Simmons/Ezra Jenkins 3 episodes
1955 Screen Directors Playhouse Grandpa Episode: The Brush Roper
1956 Ethel Barrymore Theatre Performer Episode: The Gentle Years
1956 Cavalcade of America Link Morley Episode: Woman's Work
1956 The Ford Television Hour Duffy Episode: Duffy's Man
1956–57 Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre Sheriff John Larson/Joe 2 episodes
1958 Colgate Theatre Mr. Tutt Episode: Mr. Tutt
1957–63 The Real McCoys Grandpa Amos McCoy 224 episodes
1964–65 The Tycoon Walter Andrews 32 episodes
1967–69 The Guns of Will Sonnett Will Sonnett 50 episodes
1969–70 The Red Skelton Hour Various Roles 3 episodes
1969 The Over-the-Hill Gang Nash Crawford Television Movie
1970 The Over-the-Hill Gang Rides Again Nash Crawford Television Movie
1970 The Young Country Sheriff Matt Fenley Television Movie
1970–71 To Rome with Love Andy Pruitt 17 episodes
1971 Alias Smith and Jones Silky O'Sullivan/Gantry 3 episodes
1972 Home for the Holidays Benjamin Morgan Television Movie
1972 Two for the Money Cody Guilford Television Movie


Year Program Episode Co Star
1944 Lux Radio Theatre "Home in Indiana" w/ Charlotte Greenwood
1945 Lux Radio Theatre "Kentucky" w/ Laraine Day
1955 Lux Radio Theatre "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" w/ Edmund O'Brien



Year Album US Label
1960 Dutchman's Gold Dot
1962 Old Rivers 54 Liberty
Mama Sang a Song Liberty
'Twas the Night Before Christmas... Back Home Liberty


Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country Canada
1960 "Dutchman's Gold" 30 30
Dutchman's Gold
1962 "Old Rivers" 5 2 3 18
Old Rivers
1962 "Houdini" 100 Mama Sang a Song
1962 "Mama Sang a Song" 38 14 Mama Sang a Song

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Film Result
1936 Academy Awards Best Supporting Actor Come and Get It Won
1938 Kentucky Won
1940 The Westerner Won
1941 Sergeant York Nominated
1959 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series The Real McCoys Nominated

See also


  1. ^ Obituary Variety, September 25, 1974.
  2. ^ a b World War I Draft Records, Essex County, Massachusetts, Roll 1684678, Draft Board 24.
  3. ^ "Member Profile, Walter Brennan". Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. Retrieved October 7, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Bruce Eder (2016). "Walter Brennan – Full Biography". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  5. ^ "Dickinson Research Center".
  6. ^ a b c d FRANK, D. O., & Thackrey, T.,Jr. (September 22, 1974). "Walter brennan, oscar winner, dies". Los Angeles Times.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ "Walter Brennan". Retrieved March 10, 2021. While there, he suffered an injury to his vocal chords from exposure to mustard gas that left him with his screen trademark: a distinctively reedy, high-pitched voice that became a favorite for celebrity impersonators for decades.
  8. ^ "Walter brennan finance expert". Los Angeles Times. October 30, 1946.
  9. ^ a b T. S. (June 9, 1940). "NOT ON A GRECIAN URN". The New York Times.
  10. ^ "TEACHER OF SCREEN TECHNIQUES". Los Angeles Times. November 29, 1959.
  11. ^ a b W. M. (September 23, 1974). "Walter brennan dead at 80; winner of 3 academy awards". The New York Times.
  12. ^ a b L. N. (June 4, 1939). "He works anywhere to earn an honest academy award". The Washington Post.
  13. ^ "Goldwyn still picking winners". The Times of India. December 28, 1935.
  14. ^ "News from hollywood". The New York Times. October 29, 1936.
  15. ^ Schallert, E. (August 3, 1937). "Scott and MacMurray leads in air feature". Los Angeles Times.
  16. ^ Schallert, E. (February 16, 1939). "Zanuck plans stardom for walter brennan". Los Angeles Times.
  17. ^ Schallert, E. (December 6, 1939). "DRAMA". Los Angeles Times.
  18. ^ Frederick C Othman (February 24, 1940). "Brennan ready to collapse as work piles on". The Washington Post.
  19. ^ "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD". The New York Times. July 15, 1940.
  20. ^ Schallert, E. (April 8, 1943). "DRAMA AND FILM". Los Angeles Times.
  21. ^ Schallert, E. (August 15, 1944). "Bellamy signs pact with hunt stromberg". Los Angeles Times.
  22. ^ Schallert, E. (April 8, 1954). "Drama". Los Angeles Times.
  23. ^ "Vengeance Canyon on Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved February 26, 2019.
  24. ^ a b Hopper, H. (July 17, 1960). "Walter brennan: Saga of reluctant performner is offbeat story of success". Los Angeles Times.
  25. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. (September 5, 1960). "Showman Divulges First-Aid Program: 'Forgotten Fans in Sticks' Have Champion in Lippert". Los Angeles Times. p. 25.
  26. ^ V. A. (May 6, 1957). "WALTER BRENNAN TO BE STAR ON TV". The New York Times.
  27. ^ O. G. (July 27, 1958). "THE REAL M'COYS". The New York Times.
  28. ^ L. L. (April 9, 1960). "At 65, walter brennan's just hitting his prime". The Washington Post and Times-Herald.
  29. ^ Casey Kasem, "American Top 40", November 6, 1982
  30. ^ J. L. (September 30, 1968). "Walter brennan is A spry gunfigher". The Washington Post and Times-Herald.
  31. ^ V. S. (November 22, 1965). "Walter brennan just won't slow up". The Washington Post and Times-Herald.
  32. ^ "Walter brennan joins 'rome' cast". The Washington Post and Times-Herald. September 6, 1970.
  33. ^ a b Norma, L. B. (August 9, 1970). "Hollywood today". Chicago Tribune.
  34. ^ "Walter brennan in hospital". The New York Times. November 24, 1972.
  35. ^ a b A Real American Character: The Life of Walter Brennan, Carl Rollyson, 2012
  36. ^ Chawkins, Steve (October 8, 1999). "Camarillo Decides on the 'Real McCoy'". Los Angeles Times..
  37. ^ The Grave of Actor Walter Brennan at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery
  38. ^ a b ""The Washington Merry-Go-Round", Drew Pearson column, May 14, 1964" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 16, 2013. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  39. ^ Daniel, Douglass K. (September 20, 2015). "Book Review: Bad grandpa? Book downplays actor Walter Brennan's dark side". Tulsa World. Associated Press. Retrieved July 27, 2021. (subscription required)
  40. ^ Interview with Everett Greenbaum, Television Academy Foundation
  41. ^ "Artstor".
  42. ^ "Artstor".
  43. ^ Actor to Aid Schmitz; New York Times, August 9, 1972
  44. ^ Patrick, Peter J. (May 29, 2014). "Oscar Profile #188: Walter Brennan". Cinema Sight. Retrieved September 10, 2023. ...both wins said to be due to the high level of support he received from the extras union whose members were allowed to vote in the Academy Awards from 1936 to1940. His third win on his third nomination for 1940's The Westerner caused such a scandal that the extras' voting rights were taken away.
  45. ^ Levy, Emanuel (January 10, 2015). "Oscar Actors: Brennan, Walter–Winning Champion (3 Supporting Oscars)". Retrieved September 10, 2023. In the early years of the Academy Awards, extras were given the right to vote. Brennan was extremely popular with the Union of Film Extras, and since their numbers were overwhelming, he won each time he was nominated. Some say that his third win led to the disenfranchisement of the Extras Union from Oscar voting.
  46. ^ "Walter Brennan Inducted to the Walk of Fame". Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. February 8, 1960. Retrieved December 7, 2016.
  47. ^ "Walter Brennan - Great Western Performers". National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Retrieved June 16, 2024.
  48. ^ Comcast-Encore Western Channel
  49. ^ "CHUM Hit Parade - June 3, 1960".
  50. ^ "CHUM Hit Parade - May 7f, 1962".

Further reading

  • Rollyson, Carl E. (2015). A real American character : the life of Walter Brennan. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 9781628460476.

External links

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