Nat Pendleton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Nat Pendleton
Nat Pendleton in The Great Ziegfeld trailer.jpg
As Eugen Sandow from the trailer for
The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
Nathaniel Greene Pendleton

(1895-08-09)August 9, 1895
DiedOctober 12, 1967(1967-10-12) (aged 72)
Years active1913–1956
Spouse(s)Barbara Evelyn (?-1967)
(his death)
Juanita Alfonzo (?-?)
Medal record
Men's freestyle wrestling
Representing the  United States
Olympic Games
Silver medal – second place 1920 Antwerp Heavyweight

Nathaniel Greene "Nat" Pendleton (August 9, 1895 – October 12, 1967) was an American Olympic wrestler and film actor. His younger brother was Edmund J. Pendleton (1899-1987), the organist and composer.


Early life[edit]

Pendleton was born August 9, 1895,[1] in Davenport, Iowa to Adelaide E. and Nathaniel G. Pendleton. He studied at Columbia University where he began his wrestling career. He was twice Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) champion in 1914 and 1915. Chosen to compete in the US wrestling team at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium, Pendleton lost only one match during the competition, and was awarded a silver medal.[2] Some controversy surrounds this outcome with both his Olympic coach, George Pinneo, and his teammate, Fred Meyer, believing he won the match and should have been awarded the gold medal.  Pinneo called it the "most unpopular of many unsatisfactory decisions," and Meyer stated "Pendleton was the winner of that contest, no ifs or buts."[3] Returning to the US he became a professional wrestler, and with the celebrity status he had achieved, drifted into films in the late 1920s.

Film career[edit]

Pendleton appeared in over 100 films. His early roles were largely uncredited. He was chosen to appear in Horse Feathers (1932) starring the Marx Brothers, as one of the two college football players who kidnap Harpo and Chico, and his career began to develop. His role as circus strongman Eugen Sandow in The Great Ziegfeld (1936) brought him the strongest reviews of his career. Pendleton was most often cast in supporting roles as thugs, gangsters, or policemen and was usually typecast playing characters that depended on their brawn and were "none too bright".

He appeared as a circus strongman again in At the Circus (1939), again with the Marx Brothers. He had recurring roles in two MGM film series of the late 1930s and 1940s: as Joe Wayman, the ambulance driver in the Dr. Kildare series, and its spin-off, the Dr. Gillespie series; and as NYPD Lt. John Guild in The Thin Man series. He made his final film appearances in Scared to Death with Bela Lugosi, and Buck Privates Come Home (both 1947).

Pendleton died in San Diego, California in 1967 from a heart attack.

He is a member of several Halls of Fame: the Glen Brand Wrestling Hall of Fame in Waterloo, Iowa[4], the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame in Cresco, Iowa[5], and was inducted into the inaugural class of the Columbia Hall of fame[6].  In 2015, his biography was written by Mike Chapman, veteran wrestling author and historian, entitled “Pendleton: The Amazing Story of Columbia’s Wrestling Olympian and Star of Hollywood.”[7]



  1. ^ Rainho, Manny (August 2015). "This Month in Movie History". Classic Images (482): 24–26.
  2. ^ "Nat Pendleton". Retrieved 2013-09-01.
  3. ^ Chapman, Mike. Pendleton: The Amazing Story of Columbia’s Wrestling Olympian and Star of Hollywood. p. 30.
  4. ^ "National Wrestling Hall of Fame".
  5. ^ "Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame".
  6. ^ "Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame".
  7. ^ "Mike Chapman's website".

External links[edit]