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Walter Davis Pidgeon (September 23, 1897 – September 25, 1984) was a Canadian actor who lived most of his adult life in the United States.

Early life

Born near Saint John, New Brunswickmarker, he attended local public schools followed by the University of New Brunswickmarker, where he studied law and drama. His studies were interrupted by World War I and his enlistment in the 65th Battery of the Canadian Field Artillery. He never saw combat, as he was severely injured when he was crushed between two gun carriages and hospitalized for 17 months. After the war, he moved to Bostonmarker, where he worked as a bank runner. His earnings financed his voice studies at the New England Conservatory of Musicmarker. He was a classically trained baritone.

Career

Discontented with banking, he moved to New York Citymarker, where he made his entrance as an actor by walking into the office of E. E. Clive and announcing that he could act and sing, and was ready to prove it. After working as an actor on stage for a few years, he made his Broadwaymarker debut in 1925.

Pidgeon made several silent movies in the 1920s. He became a huge star with the arrival of talkies, because he was able to sing pleasantly. He starred in several extravagant early Technicolor musical, such as The Bride of the Regiment (1930), Sweet Kitty Bellairs (1930), Viennese Nights (1930) and Kiss Me Again (1931). He quickly became associated with musicals; however, when the public grew weary of them late in 1930, his career began to falter. Afterwards, Pidgeon played secondary roles in such films as Saratoga and The Girl of the Golden West. During this period one of his better known roles was in The Dark Command, where he portrayed the villain opposite John Wayne and Claire Trevor.

It was not until he starred in How Green Was My Valley that his popularity rebounded. He starred opposite Greer Garson in Blossoms in the Dust, Mrs. Miniver (for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor) and its sequel, The Miniver Story. He was also nominated in 1944 for Madame Curie, again opposite Garson. His partnership with Garson continued into the 1950s, and concluded with Scandal at Scourie in 1953.

Although he continued making films, including Week-End at the Waldorf and Forbidden Planet, based on Shakespeare's The Tempest, Pidgeon returned to work on Broadway in the mid-1950s after a twenty-year absence, and was featured in Take Me Along with Jackie Gleason. He continued making films, playing Admiral Harriman Nelson in 1961's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, in Walt Disney's Big Red (1962), and in Otto Preminger's Advise and Consent. His role as Florenz Ziegfield in Funny Girl (1968) was well received. He also played Casey, James Coburn's sidekick in Harry in Your Pocket (1973). In addition, Pidgeon guest-starred in many television programs, including Perry Mason, Breaking Point, The F.B.I., and Marcus Welby, M.D..

Pidgeon was active in the Screen Actors Guild, and served as president from 1952-1957. As such, he tried to stop the production of the film Salt of the Earth, which was made by a team blacklisted during the Red Scare.

He retired in 1973.

Pidgeon has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Famemarker at 6414 Hollywood Blvd.

Personal life

Pidgeon married twice. In 1919, he wed Edna (Muriel) Pickles, who died during the birth of their daughter, also named Edna, in 1921. In 1931, he married his secretary, Ruth Walker, to whom he remained married until his death. They had no children.

He died of a stroke in Santa Monica, Californiamarker, in 1984. In accordance with his wishes, his body was donated to the UCLAmarker Medical School for medical research.

Selected filmography





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