Walter Matthau is Born

Walter John Matthau (October 1, 1920 – July 1, 2000) 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. He won an Academy Award for his performance in the Billy Wilder film The Fortune Cookie.

He was born as Walter John Matthau in New York City's Lower East Side on October 1, 1920, the son of Rose Berolsky (from Lithuania), who worked in a sweatshop, and Milton Matthau, an electrician and peddler (from Russia), both Jewish immigrants. His original surname has often incorrectly been listed as Matuschanskayasky (see Matuschanskayasky below for a detailed discussion). As a young boy, Walter attended a Jewish non-profit sleepaway camp, Tranquillity Camp, where he first began acting in the shows the camp would stage on Saturday nights. He also attended Surprise Lake Camp.

The Odd Couple is a 1968 comedy film written by Neil Simon, based on his play of the same name, directed by Gene Saks, and starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. It is the story of two divorced men – Felix Ungar, the neurotic neatfreak, and Oscar Madison, the fun-loving slob – who decide to live together, even though their personalities clash. Simon based the story on the observations of Mel Brooks living with a friend after his first divorce.