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Matthau: A Life Hardcover – September 4, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing; 1 edition (September 4, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087833274X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878332748
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,003,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From 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.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

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. (Turner Classic Movies)

Matthau: a Life provides a comperhensive and entertaining tribute to the most unlikely movie star ever to grace the big screen. (Phil Hall New York Resident)

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." (Publishers Weekly)

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. (Globe)

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. (Scott Eyman Iowa Tribune)

Matthau: A Life is a telling look at the man behind this well-loved personality and luminary in America's television and film histroy. (The Big Reel)

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. (Jewsweek.Com)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I've always been a fan of Walter Matthau, and was looking forward to reading this book. I found that it was loaded with information about him. I didn't know that he appeared in so many 1950s television shows, for example, and that he acted in so many dramas before playing Oscar Madison. I also enjoyed reading about his childhood, his military service in World War II, and his friendship with Jack Lemmon. A first-class read!!!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Walter Matthau is one of my favorite movie stars. He was a great comic actor, and (as noted in this book) he also played drama as well as just about anyone. Plus, off-camera, he was such a memorable personality. This book is loaded with facts and insight about Matthau's life, and interviews with people who knew him. I particularly loved reading about his childhood on the Lower East Side, his time spent during World War II, how he broke into the entertainment industry, and his lifelong gambling problem. Great book!!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By babyboomerlarry on July 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Easy reading with the customary facts about Walter's acting resume. However, I was a little disappointed that there was not more about his opinions on other actors he worked with. For example, I would have loved to know what he thought about Robin Williams in the poorly matched pair in The Survivors movie.

A lot of us were unaware he had extensive live television credits in the 1950's.

He also put down the one movie he directed very early in his movie career in which his wife also had a role. I actually liked the movie.

And what was it like to have worked with Tatum O'neal?

They said he was always putting people on. Maybe that's why no one ever bothered to get deeper answers from him.
Still, worth the purchase.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By kovacs on June 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book is more tribute than biography. It's clear the authors liked Matthau, as apparently many people did. The man was no doubt likeable. His only vice, and it was a big one, was his gambling addiction, but that seemed to only hurt him. The authors should have shed more ink on Matthau's films - after all, that's what made him a household name. But they skipped over some of them and barely touched others. Take Two Bullets and Call Me in the Morning: Stories of true crime from North Central Illinois
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