Walter Pidgeon

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Walter Pidgeon
Pidgeon on Perry Mason (1963)
Walter Davis Pidgeon

(1897-09-23)September 23, 1897
DiedSeptember 25, 1984(1984-09-25) (aged 87)
EducationUniversity of New Brunswick
Boston Conservatory of Music
Years active1925–1977
Political partyRepublican
Edna Muriel Pickles
(m. 1919; died 1921)
Ruth Walker
(m. 1931)
10th President of the Screen Actors Guild
In office
Preceded byRonald Reagan
Succeeded byLeon Ames

Walter Davis Pidgeon (September 23, 1897 – September 25, 1984) was a Canadian-American actor. A major leading man during the Golden Age of Hollywood, known for his "portrayals of men who prove both sturdy and wise,"[2] Pidgeon earned two Academy Award nominations for Best Actor, for his roles in Mrs. Miniver (1942) and Madame Curie (1943).[3]

Pidgeon also starred in many other notable films, such as How Green Was My Valley (1941), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), Forbidden Planet (1956), Executive Suite (1954), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961), Advise & Consent (1962), Funny Girl (1968), and Harry in Your Pocket (1973).

Aside from his acting career, Pidgeon served as the 10th President of the Screen Actors Guild, between 1952 and 1957. He received the Guild's Life Achievement Award in 1975, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960, for his contributions to the motion picture industry.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, Pidgeon was the son of Hannah (née Sanborn), a housewife, and Caleb Burpee Pidgeon, a haberdasher.[4]

Pidgeon received his formal education in local schools and the University of New Brunswick, where he studied law and drama. His university education was interrupted by World War I when he volunteered with the 65th Battery, as a lieutenant in the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery. He never saw action, however, as he was severely injured in an accident when he was crushed between two gun carriages and spent seventeen months in a military hospital.[1] His Officer Attestation states he was born in 1895 and further medical records state 1896.

Following the war, he moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where he worked as a bank runner, at the same time studying voice at the Boston Conservatory of Music.[5]


While he was performing in amateur theatricals in Boston, Pidgeon was hired by Elsie Janis, a producer, actor and singer looking for a male singer for her revue. Pidgeon moved to New York City in 1923, where he interviewed with E.E. Clive, a British producer working on Broadway. Pidgeon made his first featured Broadway debut in Janis' 1925 revue Puzzles of 1925.[1] Clive was producing You Never Can Tell, and he cast Pidgeon in a supporting role despite Pidgeon's lack of theatrical experience.

Pidgeon's success created a rift between Janis and him, leading to Pidgeon's dismissal and his move to Hollywood.[1] His first role was in silent film Mannequin (1925). Discouraged with the quality of the roles he was getting, Pidgeon returned to New York in 1928 to resume his theater career.[1] With the advent of sound films, Pidgeon starred in musicals Bride of the Regiment (1930), Sweet Kitty Bellairs (1930), Viennese Nights (1930) and Kiss Me Again (1931). In 1935, he appeared onstage on Broadway in Something Gay, Night of January 16th, and There's Wisdom in Women.

Pidgeon returned to film in 1937 as a dramatic actor in Saratoga (1937), then acted in The Girl of the Golden West (1938) and Dark Command (1940).[1]

Pidgeon with Teresa Wright and Greer Garson in Mrs. Miniver (1942)

In 1941, Pidgeon starred in the Academy Award-winning Best Picture How Green Was My Valley (1941). He starred with Greer Garson in Blossoms in the Dust (1941), Mrs. Miniver (1942) (for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor) and its sequel, The Miniver Story (1950). He was also nominated for Madame Curie (1943), again with Garson. His partnership with her continued throughout the 1940s and into the 1950s with Mrs. Parkington (1944), Julia Misbehaves (1948), That Forsyte Woman (1949), and finally Scandal at Scourie (1953). He also starred as Chip Collyer in the comedy Week-End at the Waldorf (1945) and later as Colonel Michael S. 'Hooky' Nicobar, who was given the difficult task of repatriating Russians in post-World War II Vienna in The Red Danube (1949).

Although he continued to make films, including The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), Executive Suite (1954) and Forbidden Planet (1956), Pidgeon returned to work on Broadway in the mid-1950s after a 20-year absence. He was featured in Take Me Along with Jackie Gleason and received a Tony Award nomination for the musical play. He continued making films, playing Admiral Harriman Nelson in 1961's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, James Haggin in Walt Disney's Big Red (1962), and the Senate Majority Leader in Otto Preminger's Advise & Consent. His role as Florenz Ziegfeld in Funny Girl (1968) was well received. Later, he played Casey, James Coburn's sidekick, in Harry in Your Pocket (1973).

Pidgeon guest-starred in the episode "King of the Valley" (November 26, 1959) on Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre. Pidgeon played Dave King, a prosperous rancher who quarrels with his banker over a $10,000 loan.

His other television credits included Rawhide ("The Reunion", 1962). Breaking Point, The F.B.I., Marcus Welby, M.D., and Gibbsville. In 1963 he guest-starred as corporate attorney Sherman Hatfield in the fourth of four special episodes of Perry Mason while Raymond Burr was recovering from surgery. In 1965, he played the king in Rodgers and Hammerstein's CBS television production of Cinderella, starring Lesley Ann Warren. Pidgeon retired from acting in 1977.


A Republican, Pidgeon joined celebrity Republicans in 1944 at a rally in the Los Angeles Coliseum arranged by David O. Selznick to support the DeweyBricker ticket and Governor Earl Warren of California, who was Dewey's running mate in 1948. The gathering drew 93,000, with Cecil B. DeMille as the master of ceremonies and short speeches by Hedda Hopper and Walt Disney.[6]

Personal life[edit]

In 1919, Pidgeon wed Edna Muriel Pickles, who died during the birth of their daughter, Edna.[7] In 1931, Pidgeon married his secretary, Ruth Walker, to whom he remained married until his death.[8]

Pidgeon became a United States citizen on December 24, 1943.[9]


Pidgeon died on September 25, 1984, age 87, in Santa Monica, California, following a series of strokes.[10]

Walter Pidgeon has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6414 Hollywood Boulevard in California.

Complete filmography[edit]

Year Film Role Director Notes
1926 Mannequin Martin Innesbrook James Cruze
The Outsider Basil Owen Rowland V. Lee Lost film
Old Loves and New Clyde Lord Geradine Maurice Tourneur Lost film
Miss Nobody Bravo Lambert Hillyer Lost film
Marriage License? Paul Frank Borzage Lost film
1927 The Heart of Salome Monte Carroll Victor Schertzinger Lost film
The Girl from Rio Paul Sinclair Tom Terriss
The Thirteenth Juror Richard Marsden Edward Laemmle
The Gorilla Stevens Alfred Santell
1928 The Gateway of the Moon Arthur Wyatt John Griffith Wray Lost film
Woman Wise United States Consul Albert Ray Lost film
Turn Back the Hours Philip Drake Howard Bretherton
Clothes Make the Woman Victor Trent Tom Terriss
Melody of Love Jack Clark Arch Heath Lost film
1929 The Voice Within
Her Private Life Ned Thayer Alexander Korda
A Most Immoral Lady Tony Williams John Griffith Wray
1930 Showgirl in Hollywood Himself – Premiere Emcee Mervyn LeRoy Uncredited
Bride of the Regiment Col. Vultow John Francis Dillon Lost film
Sweet Kitty Bellairs Lord Varney Alfred E. Green
The Gorilla Arthur Marsden Bryan Foy Lost film
Viennese Nights Franz von Renner Alan Crosland
Going Wild 'Ace' Benton William A. Seiter
1931 Kiss Me Again Paul de St. Cyr William A. Seiter
The Hot Heiress Clay Clarence G. Badger
1932 Rockabye Al Howard George Cukor
1933 The Kiss Before the Mirror Lucy's Lover James Whale
1934 Journal of a Crime Florestan William Keighley
Good Badminton Walter
1936 Big Brown Eyes Richard Morey Raoul Walsh
Fatal Lady David Roberts Edward Ludwig
1937 She's Dangerous Dr. Scott Logan Lewis R. Foster
Girl Overboard Paul Stacey Sidney Salkow
As Good as Married Fraser James Edward Buzzell
Saratoga Hartley Madison Jack Conway
My Dear Miss Aldrich Ken Morley E. J. Babille
A Girl with Ideas Mickey McGuire S. Sylvan Simon
1938 Man-Proof Alan Wythe Richard Thorpe
The Girl of the Golden West Jack Rance Robert Z. Leonard
The Shopworn Angel Sam Bailey H.C. Potter
Too Hot to Handle William O. "Bill" Dennis Jack Conway
Listen, Darling Richard Thurlow Edwin L. Marin
1939 Society Lawyer Christopher Durant Edwin L. Marin
6,000 Enemies Steve Donegan George B. Seitz
Stronger Than Desire Tyler Flagg Leslie Fenton
Nick Carter, Master Detective Nick Carter / Robert Chalmers Jacques Tourneur
1940 I Take This Woman Phil Mayberry Scenes deleted
The House Across the Bay Tim Alfred Hitchcock (Uncredited)
It's a Date John Arlen William A. Seiter
Dark Command William 'Will' Cantrell Raoul Walsh
Phantom Raiders Nick Carter Jacques Tourneur
Sky Murder Nick Carter George B. Seitz
Flight Command Squadron Cmdr. Billy Gary Frank Borzage
1941 Man Hunt Captain Alan Thorndike Fritz Lang
Blossoms in the Dust Sam Gladney Mervyn LeRoy
How Green Was My Valley Mr. Gruffydd John Ford
Design for Scandal Jeff Sherman Norman Taurog
1942 Mrs. Miniver Clem Miniver William Wyler
White Cargo Harry Witzel Richard Thorpe
1943 The Youngest Profession Himself Edward Buzzell
Madame Curie Pierre Curie Mervyn LeRoy
1944 Mrs. Parkington Major Augustus 'Gus' Parkington Tay Garnett
1945 Week-End at the Waldorf Chip Collyer Robert Z. Leonard
1946 Holiday in Mexico Jeffrey Evans George Sidney
The Secret Heart Chris Matthews Robert Z. Leonard
1947 Cass Timberlane Himself – Party Guest George Sidney Uncredited
If Winter Comes Mark Sabre Victor Saville
1948 Julia Misbehaves William Sylvester Packett Jack Conway
Command Decision Major General Roland Goodlaw Kane Sam Wood
1949 The Red Danube Col. Michael S. "Hooky" Nicobar George Sidney
That Forsyte Woman Young Jolyon Forsyte Compton Bennett
1950 The Miniver Story Clem Miniver H.C. Potter
1951 Soldiers Three Col. Brunswick Tay Garnett
Calling Bulldog Drummond Maj. Hugh "Bulldog" Drummond Victor Saville
Quo Vadis Narrator Mervyn LeRoy Voice, uncredited
The Unknown Man Dwight Bradley Masen Richard Thorpe
1952 The Sellout Haven D. Allridge Gerald Mayer
Million Dollar Mermaid Frederick Kellerman Mervyn LeRoy
The Bad and the Beautiful Harry Pebbel Vincente Minnelli
1953 Scandal at Scourie Patrick J. McChesney Jean Negulesco
Dream Wife Walter McBride Sidney Sheldon
1954 Executive Suite Frederick Y. Alderson Robert Wise
Men of the Fighting Lady Comdr. Kent Dowling Andrew Marton
The Last Time I Saw Paris James Ellswirth Richard Brooks
Deep in My Heart J.J. Shubert Stanley Donen
1955 Hit the Deck Rear Adm. Daniel Xavier Smith Roy Rowland
The Glass Slipper Narrator Charles Walters Voice, uncredited
1956 Forbidden Planet Dr. Morbius Fred M. Wilcox
These Wilder Years James Rayburn Roy Rowland
The Rack Col. Edward W. Hall, Sr. Arnold Laven
1958 Swiss Family Robinson Father
1959 Meet Me in St. Louis Mr. Alonzo Smith TV Movie
1961 Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Adm. Harriman Nelson Irwin Allen
1962 Advise and Consent Senate Majority Leader Otto Preminger
Big Red James Haggin Norman Tokar
1963 The Two Colonels Colonello Timothy Henderson Steno
The Shortest Day Ernest Hemingway Sergio Corbucci Uncredited
Anniversary Narrator
1964 Mr. Kingston
1965 Cinderella King Ralph Nelson
1967 How I Spent My Summer Vacation Lewis Gannet
Warning Shot Orville Ames Buzz Kulik
1968 The Vatican Affair Professor Herbert Cummings Emilio Miraglia
Funny Girl Florenz Ziegfeld William Wyler
1969 Rascal Sterling North Norman Tokar Voice
1970 House on Greenapple Road Mayor Jack Parker Robert Day
The Mask of Sheba Dr. Max van Condon David Lowell Rich
1972 The Screaming Woman Dr. Amos Larkin Jack Smight
Skyjacked Sen. Arne Lindner John Guillermin
1973 The Neptune Factor Dr. Samuel Andrews Daniel Petrie
Harry in Your Pocket Casey Bruce Geller
1974 Live Again, Die Again Thomas Carmichael Richard A. Colla
The Girl on the Late, Late Show John Pahlman Gary Nelson
1975 You Lie So Deep, My Love Uncle Joe Padway David Lowell Rich
Murder on Flight 502 Charlie Parkins George McCowan
1976 The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case Judge Trenchard Buzz Kulik
Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood Grayson's Butler Michael Winner
Two-Minute Warning The Pickpocket Larry Peerce
1978 Sextette The Chairman Ken Hughes

Radio appearances[edit]

Year Program Episode/source
1946 Lux Radio Theatre Mrs. Parkington[11]
1946 Lux Radio Theatre Together Again[12]
1952 Screen Guild Theatre "Heaven Can Wait"[13]
1953 Lux Radio Theatre The People Against O'Hara[14]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Foster, Charles (2003). Once upon a time in paradise : Canadians in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Toronto: Dundurn Group. pp. 233–250. ISBN 1-55002-464-7.
  2. ^ Berger, Joseph (1984-09-26). "WALTER PIDGEON, ACTOR, DIES AT 87". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2024-01-19.
  3. ^ Retrieved 2024-01-19. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Parish, James Robert; Mank, Gregory W. (April 1981). The Hollywood Reliables. Arlington House. p. 147. ISBN 978-0870004308.
  5. ^ Foster, Charles. "The Gentleman from Saint John". Retrieved 9 November 2021. ...using the money he earned, he entered the Boston Conservatory of Music.
  6. ^ Jordan, David M. (2011). FDR, Dewey, and the Election of 1944. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. pp. 231–32. ISBN 978-0253356833. pidgeon.
  7. ^ "Walter Pidgeon—Biography". (The Canadian Movie Database). Archived from the original on December 3, 2020. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
  8. ^ Berger, Joseph (1984-09-26). "WALTER PIDGEON, ACTOR, DIES AT 87". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-05-24.
  9. ^ Walter Davis Pidgeon's Petition for Naturalization as a United States Citizen,; accessed November 17, 2015.
  10. ^ Berger, Joseph (September 26, 1984). "Walter Pidgeon, Actor, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-10-25. Walter Pidgeon, the courtly actor who distinguished his 47-year career with portrayals of men who prove both sturdy and wise, died yesterday at a hospital in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 87 years old and had suffered a series of strokes. ...
  11. ^ "'Lux' Guest". Harrisburg Telegraph. November 23, 1946. p. 19. Retrieved September 13, 2015 – via
  12. ^ "'Together Again' With Irene Dunn [sic] Next 'Lux' Drama". Harrisburg Telegraph. December 7, 1946. p. 19. Retrieved September 12, 2015 – via
  13. ^ Kirby, Walter (April 6, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 52. Retrieved May 16, 2015 – via
  14. ^ Kirby, Walter (March 8, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 46. Retrieved June 23, 2015 – via

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