How to sum up the life of Walter Matthau? The man was nothing short of a legend. Let me start with his life outside of film and television. He was born to two Jewish immigrants – Rose (from Lithuania), who worked in a sweatshop, and Milton Matthow, an electrician and peddler (from Russia) – and apparently often incorrently claimed that his real last name was Matuschanskayasky. He served in World War 2 as a B-24 Liberator radioman-gunner, in the same 453rd Bombardment Group as James Stewart and earned the rank of staff sergeant. Then he moved into acting in film and television, with some of his more memorable roles including turns in The Odd Couple, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, The Bad News Bears, JFK, and Grumpy Old Men. Matthau and his Odd Couple/Grumpy Old Men co-star Jack Lemmon were pretty famous for their on-screen friendships. Mattheu died of colon cancer in 2000 at the age of 79, with Lemmon also dying of cancer a year later.