Walter Andrew Brennan was an American actor who lived from July 25, 1894 until September 21, 1974. He received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor three times, in 1936, 1938, and 1940, making him one of only three persons to win three Oscars for acting (the other two being Jack Nicholson and Daniel Day-Lewis).
Here are 15 Interesting facts about Walter Brennan
- In 1966, he actively supported Ronald Reagan’s bid for Governor of California.
- After voting against the Civil Rights Act, he campaigned for Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election.
- He is the father of a daughter. Ruth Brennan is a writer who lives in New York City
- Following the completion of Red River (1948), director Howard Hawks claimed that he was approached by an actor who he couldn’t place. “Do you recognize me now?” the actor asked after removing his teeth. Brennan was quickly identified by Hawks.
- Brennan traveled to Los Angeles after serving in the military during World War I, where he amassed a fortune in the real estate market. Unfortunately, the market took a sharp turn to the downside, and Brennan lost nearly all of his investment. Because he was broke, he began acting in little roles in films to supplement his income, and his career grew from there.
- Brennan had already performed in vaudeville when he served in World War I at the age of 22. His exposure to poison gas injured his vocal cords, leaving him with the high-pitched voice timbre that made him a natural for elderly man parts even though he was still in his thirties
- During the 1960s, he was persuaded that abroad Communists were running the anti-war and civil rights movements, and he stated as much in interviews. He told reporters that he believed the civil rights movement, particularly the riots in Watts and Newark, as well as the demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama, were the result of perfectly content “Negroes” being stirred up by a few “troublemakers” with an anti-American agenda. Those on the set of his final series, “The Guns of Will Sonnett” (1967), said he cackled with delight when learning of the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, and that he danced a spontaneous jig when he heard of King’s death.
- He was the first actor to win three Academy Awards, and he remains the only actor to win three Oscars for Best Supporting Actor to this day.
- Four of his tracks reached the top 100, including the Top 5 hit “Old Rivers” (Liberty Records), which debuted on April 7, 1962. The song charted for 11 weeks and reached number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.
- Almost never played the villain, preferring instead to play the hero’s slightly odd sidekick. His performance as the heartless Old Man Clanton in John Ford’s prickly My Darling Clementine (1946) was an exception. Ford and Brennan were not friends, and Ford was one of the few directors with whom Brennan did not work more than once during his career.
- Because he was born and bred in Massachusetts, he did not have his trademark southern, “old coot”-style accent in real life.
- For Come and Get It, he earned the first ever Best Supporting Actor Academy Award (1936).
- His relatives continue to live in and around Joseph, Oregon, where the actor ran a working ranch.
- In 1970, he was inducted into the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum’s Hall of Great Western Performers.
- In Joseph, Oregon, he had a ranch and numerous enterprises, including the Indian Lodge Motel, which still has some of his photographs on display.