Hollywood Remains to Be Seen

Walter Brennan
1894 - 1974

San Fernando Mission Cemetery

Walter Brennan is best known for his supporting roles, and he's the most-honored supporting actor in the history of the Academy Awards.

While studying engineering in Massachusetts, Brennan also became involved in the school's acting club. After serving in France during World War I, and against the wishes of his family, Brennan moved from the East Coast to Hollywood to pursue his dream of becoming an actor. Brennan first started working on Westerns in the late 1920s, usually playing supporting roles or doing stunts. During one of the films, he was involved in a fight scene in which another actor accidentally kicked Brennan in the face, knocking out all his front teeth. Brennan later described the incident as "the luckiest break in the world. I got a set of false choppers, so I looked all right off the set. But when necessary, I could take them out, and suddenly look about 40 years older."

With that "skill," Brennan quickly developed a career as a character actor, winning Academy Awards as Best Supporting Actor for his work in "Come and Get It" (1936), "Kentucky" (1938) and "The Westerner" (1940). He was the first actor to win three Oscars, and is the only actor to pick up three awards for supporting roles. He was also nominated for his work in "Sergeant York" (1941).

Though best known for his roles as a grizzled old man, Brennan could also play melodrama and light comedy with equal success. He even has small roles in the horror films "The Invisible Man" (1933) and "The Bride of Frankenstein" (1935), and he appeared with the Three Stooges in "Woman Haters" (1934). Brennan worked often with his off-screen friend, Gary Cooper, appearing with him in "The Wedding Night" (1935), "The Cowboy and the Lady" (1938), "The Westerner" (1940), "Sergeant York" (1941), "Meet John Doe" (1941), "Pride of the Yankees" (1942) and "Task Force" (1949). Overall, Brennan appeared in more than 200 films, including "Barbary Coast" (1935), "Three Godfathers" (1936), "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (1938), "The Story of Verne and Irene Castle" (1939), "Northwest Passage" (1940), "To Have and Have Not" (1944), "My Darling Clementine" (1946), "Red River" (1948), "Bad Day at Black Rock" (1955), "Tammy and the Bachelor" (1957), "Rio Bravo" (1959), "How the West Was Won" (1962) and "The Gnome-Mobile" (1967).

In 1957, Brennan accepted his first role in a television series, playing Grandpa Amos McCoy in the long-running series, "The Real McCoys." He also starred in the series "The Tycoon" in 1964, and "The Guns of Will Sonnett" from 1967 to 1969.

Brennan was born Walter Andrew Brennan on July 25, 1894, in Swampscott, MA. He died Sept. 21, 1974, in Oxnard, CA.

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