Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Birthday Tribute to Walter Pidgeon

One of my favorite actors, Walter Pidgeon, was born on this date 118 years ago.

Pidgeon was born on September 23, 1897, in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada.


Pidgeon is best remembered for his very effective pairings with Greer Garson; two of their films, MRS. MINIVER (1942) and MADAME CURIE (1943), led to his receiving Oscar nominations.


Stills from the memorable bomb shelter scene in MRS. MINIVER, directed by William Wyler:



And a still from his second Oscar-nominated role opposite Garson, in MADAME CURIE (1943), directed by Mervyn LeRoy:


Pidgeon possessed a fine singing voice, displayed in early films such as SWEET KITTY BELLAIRS (1930). His screen career stretched for over half a century and included films for Fritz Lang and John Ford, not to mention the sci-fi classic FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956).

Below are some photos from a few more of Pidgeon's many wonderful films.

MAN HUNT (1941), with Joan Bennett:


HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941) with Maureen O'Hara:


COMMAND DECISION (1948) with Clark Gable:


FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956):


He was also the King in the fondly remembered TV version of CINDERELLA (1965) with Lesley Ann Warren, which reunited him with his WEEK-END AT THE WALDORF (1945) costar Ginger Rogers.


Off the screen Pidgeon's quiet personal life seems to have been in sync with his film persona. His first wife, Edna, died in childbirth in 1926; he named their daughter Edna after her mother. A few years later he remarried, a union which would last over half a century.

Walter Pidgeon died in 1984, just two days after his 87th birthday. He willed his body to UCLA Medical Center for research.

Walter Pidgeon films reviewed at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings: BIG BROWN EYES (1936), MY DEAR MISS ALDRICH (1937), TOO HOT TO HANDLE (1938), MAN-PROOF (1938) (also here), SOCIETY LAWYER (1939), STRONGER THAN DESIRE (1939), NICK CARTER, MASTER DETECTIVE (1939), PHANTOM RAIDERS (1940), SKY MURDER (1940), IT'S A DATE (1940) (also here), FLIGHT COMMAND (1940), HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941), DESIGN FOR SCANDAL (1941), THE SECRET HEART (1946) (also here), IF WINTER COMES (1947), COMMAND DECISION (1948), JULIA MISBEHAVES (1948), THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1952), THE SELLOUT (1952), SCANDAL AT SCOURIE (1953), MEN OF THE FIGHTING LADY (1954), EXECUTIVE SUITE (1954), HIT THE DECK (1955), VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA (1961), ADVISE AND CONSENT (1962), and SKYJACKED (1972).

Other notable Walter Pidgeon films not mentioned above: THE GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST (1938), THE SHOPWORN ANGEL (1938), THE HOUSE ACROSS THE BAY (1940), BLOSSOMS IN THE DUST (1941), MRS. PARKINGTON (1944), HOLIDAY IN MEXICO (1946), THAT FORSYTE WOMAN (1949), MILLION DOLLAR MERMAID (1952), THE LAST TIME I SAW PARIS (1954), and FUNNY GIRL (1968).

2016 Update: Here are reviews of THE GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST (1938), WHITE CARGO (1942), CALLING BULLDOG DRUMMOND (1951), DEEP IN MY HEART (1954), and THE GLASS SLIPPER (1955).

5 Comments:

Blogger Maricatrin said...

I like him a lot too, but I see there are a great many Pidgeon films I still need to see!

In MAN HUNT and THE RACK he both surprised and impressed me by his range... he gave a lot of class to the Nick Carter films ("if I'm wrong, I'll apologize")... and the first role I ever saw him in was BIG RED, where he played what I tend to regard as the quintessential Walter Pigeon character... a genteel, strong, seemingly unemotional (even aloof) man who has deep feelings underneath, just seldom shown (but a skillful actor can let us know they exist.) He also played an older Bulldog Drummond in a very good British-made film... can't remember the name off the top of my head, but Margaret Leighton co-starred.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Jerry E said...

"CALLING BULLDOG DRUMMOND" (1951), Maricatrin. He brought more depth than is usual to that role also,I thought.

11:33 PM  
OpenID vienna said...

Lovely tribute,Laura. Walter is one of my favourites too. And it's a rare pleasure to hear his singing voice.
What perfect casting - Walter and Greer Garson. They seemed made for each other.

11:45 PM  
Blogger Maricatrin said...

Thanks, Jerry. I've seen (and enjoyed) all the John Howard Drummond films (and the one Ray Milland), but all the titles tend to run together in my head... they all seem to be something like Bulldog Drummond Returns, Bulldog Drummond's Adventure, Bulldog Drummond Goes to the Zoo, etc. (lol).

4:49 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Maricatrin, Jerry, and Vienna, thank you all so much for taking the time to stop by and leave your thoughts on this wonderful actor.

Maricatrin, you made me smile with "If I'm wrong, I'll apologize." I wonder how many times he said that in the Nick Carter movies? Wish there had been more. I've got to see if I have the Bulldog Drummond film! (Thanks for the title, Jerry!)

Vienna, having seen POLLYANNA last weekend I got to thinking that Garson and Pidgeon would have been wonderful in a film of POLLYANNA in the Wyman-Egan roles. But I suppose they came close to that type of story, if not the character types, in SCANDAL AT SCOURIE, when they adopt little Donna Corcoran.

Best wishes,
Laura

12:12 AM  

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