87 (passed away Sep. 25th, 1984)
Sep. 23rd, 1897
Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
6' 2 1/2"
Walter Pidgeon's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Walter Pidgeon, a handsome, tall and dark haired man, began his career studying voice at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. He then did theater, mainly stage musicals. He went to Hollywood in the early 1920s where he made silent films, such as Mannequin (1926) and Sumuru (1927). When talkies arrived, Pidgeon made some early talkie musicals, but never received top billing or recognition. In 1937, MGM put Walter under contract but only in supporting roles and the other man roles - such as in Saratoga (1937) opposite Jean Harlow and Clark Gable and in The Girl of the Golden West (1938) opposite Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. Although the 2 films were big successes, Pidgeon was overlooked for his contribution to the films. MGM loaned him out to Fox where he finally had top-billing in How Green Was My Valley (1941). When he returned to MGM, they tried to give him bigger roles and cast him opposite frequent co-star Greer Garson. But Greer seemed to come up on top in Blossoms in the Dust (1941) and Mrs. Miniver (1942), although Pidgeon did receive an Oscar nomination for his role in the latter movie. He remained with MGM till the mid-1950s, making films like Dream Wife (1953) and Hit the Deck (1955) with Jane Powell (I) and old pal, Gene Raymond. In 1956, he left the movies to do some theater, but returned in 1961. He retired in 1977, and suffered several strokes which eventually led to his death in 1984.
- His body donated to UCLA Medical School, Los Angeles, California, USA.
- Turned down the role of Gaylord Ravenal in the Universal remake of _Show Boat (1936)_ (qv) because he did not want to be typecast in musicals. 'Allan Jones (I)' (qv) played the role instead opposite 'Irene Dunne' (qv)'s Magnolia.
- 'Fred Astaire' (qv) heard him singing at a party while appearing with an amateur company in Boston and got him an agent. Walter was more interested in acting, however, and joined 'E.E. Clive' (qv)'s repertory stage company where he worked on his craft. Thanks also to Astaire, the deep baritone auditioned for and became the singing partner for singer/entertainer 'Elsie Janis' (qv) which toured for six months in the mid-1920s. Pidgeon's first wife traveled with the company as an understudy for Janis.
- Daughter, Edna Pidgeon Atkins, born in 1924, once worked at the Animation Department of MGM before marrying in 1947. She gave Walter 2 granddaughters, Pat and Pam.
- According to _Salt of the Earth (1954)_ (qv) producer 'Paul Jarrico' (qv), who had been blacklisted during the Red Scare of the 1950s, Pidgeon tried to stop the production of the film (which was being made by blacklistees) in his capacity as president of the Screen Actors Guild, which had signed off on the blacklist. In a 1997 interview, Jarrico said, "There was a concerted effort to stop the making of the film after it became known that we were making the film. We had started the film in quite a normal fashion with contracts with Pate Lab to develop our film and rental of the equipment from Hollywood, people who supplied such things. A whistle was blown by 'Walter Pidgeon' (qv), the then president of the Actors Guild, and the FBI swung into action and movie industries swung into action and we found ourselves barred from laboratories, barred from sound studios, barred from any of the normal facilities available to film makers, and we found ourselves hounded by all kinds of denunciations on the floor of Congress and by columnists. The public was told that we were making a new weapon for Russia, that since we were shooting in New Mexico, where you find atom bombs, you find Communists, and every kind of scurrilous attack - vigilante attacks - on us while we were still shooting developed."
- First wife Edna died in 1926 giving birth to their daughter, also named Edna. His widowed mother Hannah came out to California to help care for his child. She lived there for the next 38 years, dying at age 94.
- Hobbies included tending to his rose garden and playing bridge.
- During his early performances on stage, he played a Mountie in the play Rose Marie. After playing this character on stage, Pidgeon became so enthused that he actually applied to join the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Unfortunately he was medically rejected due to his injuries in the army.
Related sites for this celeb