Walter Andrew Brennan (July 25, 1894 – September 21, 1974) was an American actor. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1936, 1938, and 1940, making him one of only three male actors to win three Academy Awards.
Brennan in 1958
|Born||July 25, 1894|
Lynn, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||September 21, 1974 (aged 80)|
Oxnard, California, U.S.
|Resting place||San Fernando Mission Cemetery,|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
(m. 1920; his death 1974)
Brennan was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, less than two miles from his family's home in Swampscott, Massachusetts. He was the second of three children born to Margaret Elizabeth (née Flanagan; June 4, 1869 in Charlestown, Massachusetts – February 1, 1955 in Pasadena, California) and William John Brennan (September 2, 1868 in Malden, Massachusetts – August 17, 1936 in Pasadena, California). His parents were both of Irish descent. His father was an engineer and inventor, and young Brennan also studied engineering at Rindge Technical High School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
After the war, he worked as a financial reporter for a newspaper in Boston. He intended to move to Guatemala and grow pineapples but only made it as far as Los Angeles. During the early 1920s, he made a fortune in the real estate market, but lost most of his money during the 1925 real estate slump.
Finding himself penniless, Brennan began taking parts as an extra in films at Universal Studios in 1924, starting at $7.50 a day. He wound up working at Universal off and on for the next ten years.
His early appearances included Webs of Steel (1925), Lorraine of the Lions (1925), and The Calgary Stampede (1925), a Hoot Gibson Western. Brennan was also in Watch Your Wife (1926), The Ice Flood (1926), Spangles (1926), The Collegians (1926, a short), Flashing Oars (1926, a short), Sensation Seekers (1927), Tearin' Into Trouble (1927), The Ridin' Rowdy (1927), Alias the Deacon (1927), Blake of Scotland Yard (1927) (a serial), Hot Heels (1927), Painting the Town (1928), and The Ballyhoo Buster (1928). The latter was directed by Richard Thorpe who would use Brennan as an extra several times on films.
Brennan could be glimpsed in The Racket (1928) from Howard Hughes, The Michigan Kid (1928), Silks and Saddles (1929), The Cohens and Kellys in Atlantic City (1929), and Smilin' Guns (1929) and The Lariat Kid (1929) with Gibson. He also worked as a stand in.
Brennan was in His Lucky Day (1929), Frank Capra's Flight (1929), One Hysterical Night (1929) (a bigger role), The Last Performance (1929), The Long, Long Trail (1929) with Gibson and The Shannons of Broadway (1929).
Other Brennan appearances included Dames Ahoy (1930), Captain of the Guard (1930), King of Jazz (1930) (Brennan says he played nine parts but when he saw the film "I sneezed and I missed myself"), The Little Accident (1930), Parlez Vous (1930), a short), See America Thirst (1930) with Harry Langdon and Slim Summerville and Ooh La-La (1930), another short).
The following year Brennan could be glimpsed in Hello Russia (1931, a short with Slim Summerville), Many a Slip (1931) with Summerville, Heroes of the Flames (1931) a serial with Tim McCoy, Honeymoon Lane (1931), Dancing Dynamite (1931), Grief Street (1931) directed by Richard Thorpe, and Is There Justice? (1931).
Brennan had a decent-sized role in Neck and Neck (1931), directed by Richard Thorpe. His parts tended to remain small, however: A House Divided (1931) for director William Wyler, Scratch-As-Catch-Can (1931, a Bobby Clark short directed by Mark Sandrich), and Texas Cyclone (1931, a Tim McCoy Western featuring a young John Wayne).
In 1932 Brennan was in Law and Order (1932) with Walter Huston, The Impatient Maiden (1932) for James Whale, The Airmail Mystery (1932, a serial), and Scandal for Sale (1932). He did another with John Wayne, Two Fisted Law (1932) though the star was Tim McCoy.
Brennan was in Hello Trouble (1932) with Buck Jones, Speed Madness (1932), Miss Pinkerton (1932) with Joan Bennett, Cornered (1932) with McCoy, The Iceman's Ball (1932, another short for Sandrich), Fighting for Justice (1932) with McCoy, The Fourth Horseman (1932) with Tom Mix, The All-American (1932), Once in a Lifetime (1932), Strange Justice (1932), Women Won't Tell (1932) for Richard Thorpe, Afraid to Talk (1932) and Manhattan Tower (1932).
Brennan was in Sensation Hunters (1933) for Charles Vidor, Man of Action (1933) with McCoy, Parachute Jumper (1933), Goldie Gets Along (1933), Girl Missing (1933), The Rustler's Roundup (1933) with Mix, The Cohens and Kellys in Trouble (1933) for director George Stevens, Lucky Dog (1933), and The Big Cage (1933). His scenes in William Wellman's Lilly Turner (1933) were deleted.
Brennan did another serial, The Phantom of the Air (1933), then Strange People (1933) for Thorpe, Meet the Champ (1933, a short), Sing Sinner Sing (1933), One Year Later (1933), Sailors Beware! (1933, a short), Golden Harvest (1933), Ladies Must Love (1933), Saturday's Millions (1933), Curtain at Eight (1933), and My Woman (1933).
James Whale gave him a bit part in The Invisible Man (1933), and he could be seen in King for a Night (1933), Fugitive Lovers (1933), Cross Country Cruise (1934), Beloved (1934), You Can't Buy Everything (1934), Paradise Valley (1934), Radio Dough (1934, a short), The Poor Rich (1934), The Crosby Murder Case (1934), George White's Scandals (1934), Good Girl (1934), Riptide (1934), Uncertain Lady (1934), I'll Tell the World (1934), and Fishing for Trouble (1934, a short).
Brennan was in the Three Stooges short Woman Haters (1934), then did Half a Sinner (1934), The Life of Vergie Winters (1934), Murder on the Runaway Train (1934), Whom the Gods Destroy (1934), Gentlemen of Polish (1934, a short), Death on the Diamond (1934), Great Expectations (1934), Luck of the Game (1934), Tailspin Tommy (1934, a serial), There's Always Tomorrow (1934), and Cheating Cheaters (1934).
Brennan was back with McCoy for The Prescott Kid (1934) and could be seen in The Painted Veil (1934), Biography of a Bachelor Girl (1935), Helldorado (1935), Brick-a-Brac (1935) an Edgar Kennedy short, Northern Frontier (1935), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935), and Law Beyond the Range (1935) with McCoy.
Around this time Brennan had what he later described as "the luckiest break in the world". He was taking part in a fight scene when an actor kicked him in the face and all his teeth were knocked out. He had to put in false teeth. "I looked all right off the set," he said. "But when necessary I could take 'em out – and suddenly look about 40 years older."
Brennan did another Three Stooges short, Restless Knights (1935) and a short Hunger Pains (1935).
The Wedding Night (1935) and Sam GoldwynEdit
An early break for Brennan came when he was in The Wedding Night (1935), alongside Gary Cooper (it was actually their second film together) and produced by Sam Goldwyn. He was only an extra but his part was expanded during filming and it resulted in Brennan getting a contract with Goldwyn.
Goldwyn mostly loaned out Brennan's services to other studios. MGM put him in West Point of the Air (1935). He was reunited with Whale in Bride of Frankenstein (1935), in which he had a brief speaking part and also worked as a stuntman.
Brennan's parts remained small in Party Wire (1935), Spring Tonic (1935), The Gay Lady (1935), Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935), and Welcome Home (1935). He did a short, The Perfect Tribute (1935) and was in George Stevens' Alice Adams (1935), but his scenes were deleted.
The Bowery (1935) and Move to Supporting ActorEdit
Brennan finally moved up to significant roles with a decent part in Goldwyn's Barbary Coast (1935), directed by Howard Hawks and an uncredited William Wyler. "That really set me up," he said later.
He had one of the leads in Three Godfathers (1936) playing one of the title outlaws.
First Oscar: Come and Get It (1936)Edit
Brennan's breakthrough part came when cast by Howard Hawks as Swan Bostrom in the period film Come and Get It (1936), playing the sidekick of Edward Arnold who eventually marries the girl Arnold abandons (played by Frances Farmer). Producer Sam Goldwyn fired Hawks during filming and replaced him with William Wyler. Brennan's performance earned him the first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Brennan followed it with support parts in Banjo on My Knee (1936) at Fox, She's Dangerous (1937), and When Love is Young (1937). Goldwyn announced him for a role in The Real Glory in 1936 but he ended up not appearing in the final film.
Brennan had his first lead role in Affairs of Cappy Ricks (1937) at Republic Pictures. He followed it with the co-starring part in Fox's Wild and Woolly (1937), billed second after Jane Withers. He was in The Buccaneer (1938), directed by Cecil B. De Mille.
Brennan portrayed town drunk and accused murderer Muff Potter in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938).
Second Oscar: Kentucky (1938)Edit
He supported Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939). Brennan also appeared in Melody of Youth (1939), and Stanley and Livingstone (1939) at Fox. At MGM he was in Joe and Ethel Turp Call on the President (1939).
Throughout his career, Brennan was frequently called upon to play characters considerably older than he was. The loss of many teeth in a 1932 accident, rapidly thinning hair, thin build, and unusual vocal intonations all made him seem older than he really was. He used these features to great effect. In many of his film roles, Brennan wore dentures; in MGM's Northwest Passage (1940) – a film set in the late 18th century – he wore a dental prosthesis which made him appear to have rotting and broken teeth. Brennan was billed third in Northwest Passage after Spencer Tracy and Robert Young.
Zanuck at Fox announced he wanted to made The Man From Home,once a vehicle for Will Rogers with Brennan. Instead Brennan was top-billed in Fox's Maryland (1940), an attempt to repeat the success of Kentucky. Brennan said he had been working constantly since Christmas 1937. "I'm just plain punch drunk," he said.
Third Oscar: The Westerner (1940)Edit
Brennan had one of his best ever roles in Goldwyn's The Westerner (1940), playing the villainous Judge Roy Bean opposite Gary Cooper. William Wyler directed and the film earned Brennan another Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
Goldwyn bought Trading Post to be a vehicle for Brennan but it was never made.
Instead he supported Deanna Durbin in Nice Girl? (1941), then Cooper again in Frank Capra's Meet John Doe (1941) and Hawks' Sergeant York (1941). Sergeant York, which earned Brennan a fourth Oscar nomination, was an enormous hit. He could also be seen in This Woman is Mine (1941), as a sea captain.
Brennan played the top-billed lead in Swamp Water (1941), the first American film by the director Jean Renoir, a drama also featuring Walter Huston and starring Dana Andrews. He was in Rise and Shine (1941) then played the reporter Sam Blake, who befriended and encouraged Lou Gehrig (played by Cooper) in Pride of the Yankees (1942).
Brennan was in some war films, Stand by for Action (1942) and Hangmen Also Die! (1943) (where he played a European professor). He was in Slightly Dangerous (1943), The Last Will and Testament of Tom Smith (1943, a short), and Goldwyn's Russia-set war epic The North Star (1943).
He was top billed in a follow up to Kentucky and Maryland at Fox, Home in Indiana (1944).
Brennan was particularly skilled in playing the sidekick of the protagonist or the "grumpy old man" in films such as To Have and Have Not (1944), the Humphrey Bogart vehicle which introduced Lauren Bacall, directed by Hawks.
Brennan was a comic pirate in the Bob Hope film The Princess and the Pirate (1944). He was teamed with John Wayne for the first time since both men obtained stardom in Dakota (1945), directed by Joseph Kane. He supported Bette Davis in A Stolen Life (1946) and was in a musical at Fox, Centennial Summer (1946), where he played a family paterfamilias.
My Darling Clementine (1946) and Some Classic WesternsEdit
After supporting Robert Mitchum in Blood on the Moon (1948) he played another kindly father role in The Green Promise (1949). Brennan was billed second to Rod Cameron in Brimstone (1949), directed by Kane, and he supported Gary Cooper in Task Force (1949).
Brennan focused on Westerns: Singing Guns (1950) with Vaughn Monroe, A Ticket to Tomahawk (1950), Curtain Call at Cactus Creek (1950), The Showdown (1950) with Wild Bill Elliot, Surrender (1950), Along the Great Divide (1951), Best of the Badmen (1951), and Return of the Texan (1952).
The Wild Blue Yonder (1951) was a non-Western, a war film. So too was Lure of the Wilderness (1952), a remake of Swamp Water with Brennan reprising his role, though given less screen time on this occasion.
Brennan was in Sea of Lost Ships (1953) with John Derek, Drums Across the River (1954) with Audie Murphy, The Far Country (1954) with James Stewart, and Four Guns to the Border (1954) with Rory Calhoun. He had a good part in Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) at MGM.
Brennan began to work on television, guest starring on episodes of Screen Directors Playhouse, Lux Video Theatre, Schlitz Playhouse, Ethel Barrymore Theater, Cavalcade of America, The Ford Television Theatre and Zane Grey Theater. He appeared as himself as a musical judge in the 1953–1954 ABC series Jukebox Jury. Brennan later said he preferred doing television to movies because there were not "long lay offs between jobs."
Brennan was in "Americana" films such as Glory (1956), Come Next Spring (1956) and in Batjac's Good-bye My Lady (1956) with 14-year-old Brandon deWilde with whom he recorded The Stories of Mark Twain that same year. In the latter film he was top billed and directed by William Wellman but the film was not widely seen.
The Real McCoysEdit
Brennan had resisted overtures to star in a regular TV series but relented for The Real McCoys, a sitcom about a poor West Virginia family that relocated to a farm in Southern California. It was a hit and ran from 1957 to 1963.
After five years on ABC, The Real McCoys switched to CBS for a final season. Brennan joined with the series creator, Irving Pincus, to form Brennan-Westgate Productions. The series was co-produced with Danny Thomas's Marterto Productions. It also featured Richard Crenna, Kathleen Nolan, Lydia Reed, and Michael Winkelman.
Brennan's success with The Real McCoys led to him making a few recordings, the most popular being "Old Rivers", about an old farmer and his mule, which was released as a single in 1962 by Liberty Records with "The Epic Ride of John H. Glenn" on the flip side. "Old Rivers" peaked at number five in the U.S. Billboard chart, making the 67 year-old Brennan the oldest living person to have a Top 40 hit at the time. At age 68, Brennan reached the Top 40 again, this time with "Mama Sang a Song" on 17 November 1962.
The latter distinction has been surpassed a number of times since:
- Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen, then 71, reached #29 with "Gallant Men" on 21 January 1967.
- Moms Mabley, then 75, reached #35 with "Abraham, Martin and John" on 19 July 1969.
- Canadian radio commentator Gordon Sinclair, then 73, reached #24 with "The Americans" on 9 February 1974.
After The Real McCoys ended, Brennan provided the voice for a cartoon of The Shooting of Dan McGrew.
Other TV series and DisneyEdit
In 1967, he starred in another ABC series, The Guns of Will Sonnett (1967–1969), as an older man in search of his gunfighter son, James Sonnett, with his grandson, Jeff, played by Dack Rambo. It ran for two seasons.
He joined the second season of the CBS sitcom To Rome with Love (1969–1971), with John Forsythe. This was Brennan's last television series as a member of the permanent cast, although he did make a number of appearances on Alias Smith and Jones.
Around this time he also starred in the TV movies The Young Country (1970), Two for the Money (1972) and Home for the Holidays (1972). He was announced for a Western, One Day in Eden but it does not appear to have been made.
In 1920, Brennan married Ruth Caroline Wells (8 December 1897 – 12 January 1997). They had a daughter, Ruth Caroline Brennan Lademan (22 September 1924 – 27 October 2004). Lademan's husband, Dixon McCully Lademan (1924–2003), was a captain in the U.S. Navy in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Brennan's son Arthur Mike "Big Mike" Brennan (1921 - 9 October 2018) and his wife, Florence Irene Brennan (1925–2003), lived in Joseph, Oregon.
In 1940, Brennan purchased the 12,000 acre Lightning Creek Ranch, 20 miles south of Joseph. He built the Indian Lodge Motel, a movie theater, and a variety store in Joseph, and continued going there between film roles until his death. Some members of his family continue to live in the area.
Brennan was politically conservative. In 1963 and 1964, he joined actors William Lundigan, Chill Wills, and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. in making appearances on behalf of U.S. Senator Barry M. Goldwater, the Republican nominee in the campaign against President Lyndon B. Johnson.
In 1964, Brennan spoke at "Project Prayer", a rally attended by 2,500 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The gathering, which was hosted by Anthony Eisley, sought to flood Congress with letters in support of mandatory school prayer, following two decisions of the Supreme Court in 1962 and 1963 which struck down the practice of mandatory prayer in public schools as being in conflict with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Also at the rally were Rhonda Fleming, Lloyd Nolan, Dale Evans, Pat Boone, and Gloria Swanson.
Brennan, a Roman Catholic, did not publicize his own religious affiliation, but declared, "I'm too old not to be a religious fella. [...] It appears we are losing something a lot of people made a lot of sacrifices for." During the 1960s, he became convinced that the antiwar and civil rights movements were being aided by overseas Communists from the Soviet Union through their support of local communist sympathizers and agitators, and said as much in interviews. He told reporters that he believed the civil rights movement – in particular, the riots in places such as Watts and Newark and demonstrations in Birmingham – had been the result of otherwise content "Negroes" being stirred up by a small number of "troublemakers" with anti-American agendas. In 1972, he supported the presidential campaign of conservative California congressman John Schmitz over that of Richard Nixon, whom he believed to be too moderate. He was a member of the John Birch Society.
Death and legacyEdit
Brennan spent his last years mostly in retirement at his ranch in Moorpark in Ventura. He died of emphysema at the age of 80 in Oxnard, California. His remains were interred at San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Film historians and critics have long regarded Brennan as one of the finest character actors in motion picture history. While the roles he was adept at playing were diverse, he is probably best remembered for his portrayals in Western movies, such as Judge Roy Bean in The Westerner, trail hand Nadine Groot in Red River, and Deputy Stumpy in Rio Bravo. He was the first actor to win three Academy Awards and remains the only person to have won Best Supporting Actor three times. However, he remained somewhat embarrassed as to how he won the awards; in the early years of the Academy Awards, extras were given the right to vote. Brennan was popular with the Union of Film Extras, and since their numbers were overwhelming, he won every time he was nominated. His third win led to the disenfranchisement of the union from Oscar voting. Following this change, Brennan lost his fourth Best Supporting Actor nomination in 1941 for Sergeant York (the award went to Donald Crisp for How Green Was My Valley).
In all, Brennan appeared in more than 230 film and television roles during a career that spanned nearly five decades. For his contributions to the film industry, he has a motion pictures star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6501 Hollywood Boulevard. In 1970, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, where his photograph hangs prominently.
|'Twas the Night Before Christmas... Back Home||—||Liberty|
|US||US AC||US Country|
|1960||"Dutchman's Gold"||30||—||—||Dutchman's Gold|
|1962||"Old Rivers"||5||2||3||Old Rivers|
|1962||"Houdini"||100||—||—||Mama Sang a Song|
|1962||"Mama Sang a Song"||38||14||—||Mama Sang a Song|
|1936||Best Supporting Actor||Come and Get It||Won|
|1938||Best Supporting Actor||Kentucky||Won|
|1940||Best Supporting Actor||The Westerner||Won|
|1941||Best Supporting Actor||Sergeant York||Nominated|
- Webs of Steel (1925) (uncredited)
- Lorraine of the Lions (1925) as Minor Role (uncredited)
- The Calgary Stampede (1925) as Racing Spectator in Grandstand at Rodeo (uncredited)
- Watch Your Wife (1926)
- The Ice Flood (1926) as Lumberjack (uncredited)
- Spangles (1926) as Lunch Counterman (uncredited)
- Sensation Seekers (1927) as Below Deck Yacht Crewman (uncredited)
- Tearin' Into Trouble (1927) as Billy Martin
- The Ridin' Rowdy (1927)
- Alias the Deacon (1927) as Cashier at Cunningham's Rink (uncredited)
- Blake of Scotland Yard (1927) as Henchman (uncredited)
- Hot Heels (1927) as Pool Hall Habitant (uncredited)
- The Ballyhoo Buster (1928)
- The Michigan Kid (1928) as Minor Role (uncredited)
- The Racket (1928) as Man on Street in Front of Barber Shop (uncredited)
- Silks and Saddles (1929) as Undetermined Role (uncredited)
- The Cohens and Kellys in Atlantic City (1929) as Man at Police Station (uncredited)
- Smilin' Guns (1929) as Ranch Foreman
- The Lariat Kid (1929) as Pat O'Shea
- His Lucky Day (1929) as Road House Thug (uncredited)
- Flight (1929) as Marine Pilot (uncredited)
- One Hysterical Night (1929) as Paul Revere
- The Last Performance (1929) as Clown (uncredited)
- The Long Long Trail (1929) as Skinny Rawlins
- The Shannons of Broadway (1929) as Hez
- Dames Ahoy! (1930) as Side Show Barker (uncredited)
- Captain of the Guard (1930) as Peasant (uncredited)
- King of Jazz (1930) as Desk Sergeant ('Springtime') / Soldier ('All Noisy on the Eastern Front') / Waiter ('Oh! Forevermore!') / Front End of Horse / Quartet Member ('Nellie')
- The Little Accident (1930) as Milkman (uncredited)
- See America Thirst (1930) as Spumoni Bodyguard (uncredited)
- Many a Slip (1931) as Minor Role (uncredited)
- Heroes of the Flames (1931, Serial) as Bit Part [Ch. 12] (uncredited)
- Honeymoon Lane (1931) as Driver
- Dancing Dynamite (1931) as Henchman
- Grief Street (1931) as Walt
- Is There Justice? (1931) as Rollins
- Neck and Neck (1931) as Hector
- Scratch-As-Catch-Can (1931, Short)
- A House Divided (1931) as Musician (uncredited)
- Horse Feathers (1932) (uncredited)
- Texas Cyclone (1932) as Sheriff Lew Collins
- Law and Order (1932) as Lanky Smith (uncredited)
- The Impatient Maiden (1932) as Cigar Stand Proprietor (uncredited)
- The Airmail Mystery (1932) as Holly
- Scandal for Sale (1932) as Newspaperman (uncredited)
- Two-Fisted Law (1932) as Deputy Sheriff Bendix
- Hello Trouble (1932) as A Texas Ranger (uncredited)
- Miss Pinkerton (1932) as Police Dispatcher (uncredited)
- Speed Madness (1932) as Joe
- Cornered (1932) as Court Bailiff (uncredited)
- Fighting for Justice (1932) as Cowhand Fletcher (uncredited)
- The Fourth Horseman (1932) as Toothless Town Drunk (uncredited)
- The All American (1932) as News Commentator at Game (uncredited)
- Once in a Lifetime (1932) as Lighting Technician (uncredited)
- Strange Justice (1932) as Eddie - Mechanic (uncredited)
- Women Won't Tell (1932) as Dump Workman (uncredited)
- Afraid to Talk (1932) as Protester Sign Carrier (uncredited)
- Manhattan Tower (1932) as Mechanic (uncredited)
- Sensation Hunters (1933) as Stuttering Waiter
- Man of Action (1933) as Cashier Summers
- Parachute Jumper (1933) as Counterman at Jewel Diner (uncredited)
- Goldie Gets Along (1933) as Stuttering Waiter (uncredited)
- Girl Missing (1933) as Joe - Garage Attendant (uncredited)
- Rustlers' Roundup (1933) as Walt (uncredited)
- The Cohens and Kellys in Trouble (1933) as Bit Role (uncredited)
- Lucky Dog (1933) as Drunk #2
- The Big Cage (1933) as Ticket-Taker (uncredited)
- Lilly Turner (1933) (scenes deleted)
- The Phantom of the Air (1933) as 'Skid' (uncredited)
- Strange People (1933) as The Radio Repairman
- Sing Sinner Sing (1933) as Henchman Riordan
- One Year Later (1933) as Yokel (uncredited)
- Golden Harvest (1933) as Farmhand at Wedding (uncredited)
- Ladies Must Love (1933) as Flute Player (uncredited)
- Saturday's Millions (1933) as Reporter (uncredited)
- Curtain at Eight (1933) as Silent Detective (uncredited)
- My Woman (1933) as Stuttering Animal Imitator (uncredited)
- The Invisible Man (1933) as Bicycle Owner (uncredited)
- King for a Night (1933) as Soda Jerk (uncredited)
- Fugitive Lovers (1934) as 2nd Bus Driver (uncredited)
- Cross Country Cruise (1934) as Niagara Falls Boatman (uncredited)
- Beloved (1934) as Stuttering Boarder
- You Can't Buy Everything (1934) as Train Vendor (uncredited)
- Paradise Valley (1934) as Farmer Hiram
- The Poor Rich (1934) as Dr. Johnson the Coroner (uncredited)
- The Crosby Case (1934) as Ship's Officer (uncredited)
- George White's Scandals (1934) as Hick (uncredited)
- Good Dame (1934) as Elmer Spicer (uncredited)
- Riptide (1934) as Chauffeur (uncredited)
- Uncertain Lady (1934) as Gas Station Attendant (uncredited)
- I'll Tell the World (1934) as Otto - Bicycle Repair Man (uncredited)
- Woman Haters (1934, Short) as Train Conductor (uncredited)
- Half a Sinner (1934) as Radio Announcer
- The Life of Vergie Winters (1934) as Roscoe - a Gossiper (uncredited)
- Murder in the Private Car (1934) as Switchman (uncredited)
- Whom the Gods Destroy (1934) as Clifford (uncredited)
- Death on the Diamond (1934) as Hot Dog Vendor (uncredited)
- Great Expectations (1934) as Prisoner on Ship (uncredited)
- Gridiron Flash (1934) as Diner Proprietor (uncredited)
- Tailspin Tommy (1934, Serial) as Hospital Orderly Slugged by Skeeter [Ch. 8] (uncredited)
- There's Always Tomorrow (1934) as Mechanic (uncredited)
- Cheating Cheaters (1934) as Ship's Telegrapher (uncredited)
- The Prescott Kid (1934) as Zeke (Stage Driver)
- The Painted Veil (1934) (scenes deleted)
- Biography of a Bachelor Girl (1935) as Reporter on Ship (uncredited)
- Helldorado (1935) as Pete, the Waiter (uncredited)
- Northern Frontier (1935) as Stuttering Cook
- The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935) as First Gossip (uncredited)
- Law Beyond the Range (1935) as Abner
- Restless Knights (1935, Short) as Father (uncredited)
- The Wedding Night (1935) as Bill Jenkins
- West Point of the Air (1935) as Soldier at Kelly's Wreckage (uncredited)
- Bride of Frankenstein (1935) as Neighbor (uncredited)
- Party Wire (1935) as Paul - Railroad Telegrapher (uncredited)
- Spring Tonic (1935) as Bum (uncredited)
- Lady Tubbs (1935) as Joseph (uncredited)
- Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935) as 'Legs' Garnett
- Welcome Home (1935) as Walter (uncredited)
- Alice Adams (1935) (scenes deleted)
- We're in the Money (1935) as Wedding Witness (uncredited)
- She Couldn't Take It (1935) as Peddler (uncredited)
- Barbary Coast (1935) as Old Atrocity
- Metropolitan (1935) as Grandpa (uncredited)
- Seven Keys to Baldpate (1935) as Station Agent
- Three Godfathers (1936) as Sam "Gus" Barton
- These Three (1936) as Taxi Driver
- The Moon's Our Home (1936) as Lem
- Fury (1936) as 'Bugs' Meyers
- Come and Get It (1936) as Swan Bostrom
- Banjo on My Knee (1936) as Newt Holley
- She's Dangerous (1937) as Ote O'Leary
- When Love Is Young (1937) as Uncle Hugo
- Affairs of Cappy Ricks (1937) as Cappy Ricks
- Wild and Woolly (1937) as Gramp 'Hercules' Flynn
- The Buccaneer (1938) as Ezra Peaves
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938) as Muff Potter
- The Texans (1938) as Chuckawalla
- Mother Carey's Chickens (1938) as Mr. Ossian Popham
- The Cowboy and the Lady (1938) as Sugar
- Kentucky (1938) as Peter Goodwin
- The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939) as Walter
- They Shall Have Music (1939) as Professor Lawson
- Stanley and Livingstone (1939) as Jeff Slocum
- Joe and Ethel Turp Call on the President (1939) as Jim
- Northwest Passage (1940) as "Hunk" Marriner
- Maryland (1940) as William Stewart
- The Westerner (1940) as Judge Roy Bean
- Nice Girl? (1941) as Hector Titus
- Meet John Doe (1941) as The 'Colonel'
- Sergeant York (1941) as Pastor Rosier Pile
- This Woman Is Mine (1941) as Captain Jonathan Thorne
- Swamp Water (1941) as Tom Keefer
- Rise and Shine (1941) as Grandpa
- The Pride of the Yankees (1942) as Sam Blake
- Stand by for Action (1942) as Chief Yeoman Henry Johnson
- Hangmen Also Die (1943) as Prof. Stephen Novotny
- Slightly Dangerous (1943) as Cornelius Burden
- The North Star (1943) as Karp
- Home in Indiana (1944) as J. F. "Thunder" Bolt
- To Have and Have Not (1944) as Eddie
- The Princess and the Pirate (1944) as Featherhead
- Dakota (1945) as Captain Bounce of the Riverbird
- A Stolen Life (1946) as Eben Folger
- Centennial Summer (1946) as Jesse Rogers
- My Darling Clementine (1946) as Newman Haynes Clanton
- Nobody Lives Forever (1946) as Pop Gruber
- Driftwood (1947) as Murph
- Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1948) as Tony Maule
- Red River (1948) as Nadine Groot
- Blood on the Moon (1948) as Kris Barden
- The Green Promise (1949) as Mr. Matthews
- Brimstone (1949) as Brimstone "Pop" Courteen
- Task Force (1949) as Pete Richard
- Singing Guns (1950) as Dr. Jonathan Mark
- A Ticket to Tomahawk (1950) as Terence Sweeny
- Curtain Call at Cactus Creek (1950) as Rimrock Thomas
- The Showdown (1950) as Cap Mackellar
- Surrender (1950) as Sheriff Bill Howard
- Along the Great Divide (1951) as Timothy 'Pop' Keith
- Best of the Badmen (1951) as "Doc" Butcher
- The Wild Blue Yonder (1951) as Major General Wolfe
- Return of the Texan (1952) as Grandpa Firth Crockett
- Lure of the Wilderness (1952) as Jim Harper
- Sea of Lost Ships (1953) as C.P.O. "Chief" O'Malley
- Drums Across the River (1954) as Sam Brannon
- The Far Country (1955) as Ben Tatum
- Four Guns to the Border (1954) as Simon Bhumer
- Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) as Doc Velie
- At Gunpoint (1955) as Doc Lacy
- Glory (1956) as Ned Otis
- Come Next Spring (1956) as Jeffrey Storys
- The Proud Ones (1956) as Jake
- Good-bye, My Lady (1956) as Uncle Jesse Jackson
- The Way to the Gold (1957) as Uncle George Williams
- Tammy and the Bachelor (1957) as Grandpa
- God Is My Partner (1957) as Dr. Charles Grayson
- Rio Bravo (1959) as Stumpy
- Shoot Out at Big Sag (1962) as "Preacher" Hawker
- How the West Was Won (1962) as Colonel Jeb Hawkins
- Those Calloways (1965) as Alf Simes
- The Oscar (1966) as Orrin C. Quentin
- The Gnome-Mobile (1967) as D.J. Mulrooney / Knobby
- Who's Minding the Mint? (1967) as Pop Gillis
- The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band (1968) as Grandpa Bower
- Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969) as Pa Danby
- The Over-the-Hill Gang (1969, TV Movie) as Nash Crawford
- The Over-the-Hill Gang Rides Again (1970, TV Movie) as Nash Crawford
- Home for the Holidays (1972, TV Movie) as Benjamin Morgan
- Smoke in the Wind (1975) as H. P. Kingman (final film role)
- Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre – 1 episode – Sheriff Larson (1957)
- The Real McCoys – 224 episodes – Grandpa Amos McCoy (1957–1963)
- The Tycoon – 32 episodes – Walter Andrews (1964–1965)
- The Guns of Will Sonnett – 50 episodes – Will Sonnett (1967–1969)
- The Young Country (TV movie) – Sheriff Matt Fenley (1970)
- To Rome with Love – 17 episodes – Andy Pruitt (1970–1971)
- Alias Smith and Jones – episode – "The Day They Hanged Kid Curry" – Silky O'Sullivan (1971)
- Alias Smith and Jones – episode – "21 Days to Tenstrike" – Gantry (1972)
- Alias Smith and Jones – episode – "Don't Get Mad, Get Even" – Silky O'Sullivan (1972)
- Obituary Variety, September 25, 1974.
- World War I Draft Records, Essex County, Massachusetts, Roll 1684678, Draft Board 24.
- "Walter Brennan - Full Biography". nytimes.com. The New York Times Company from All Movie Guide. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
- "Dickinson Research Center > Home".
- FRANK, D. O., & Thackrey, T.,Jr. (1974, Sep 22). Walter brennan, oscar winner, dies. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/157476108?accountid=13902
- Walter brennan finance expert. (1946, Oct 30). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/165712583?accountid=13902
- By, T. S. (1940, Jun 09). NOT ON A GRECIAN URN. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/105480303?accountid=13902
- TEACHER OF SCREEN TECHNIQUES. (1959, Nov 29). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/167536380?accountid=13902
- By, W. M. (1974, Sep 23). Walter brennan dead at 80; winner of 3 academy awards. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/119996210?accountid=13902
- By, L. N. (1939, Jun 04). He works anywhere to earn an honest academy award. The Washington Post (1923-1954) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/151166175?accountid=13902
- Goldwyn still picking winners. (1935, Dec 28). The Times of India (1861-Current) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/496939398?accountid=13902
- Special to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1936, Oct 29). News from hollywood. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/101701908?accountid=13902
- Schallert, E. (1937, Aug 03). Scott and MacMurray leads in air feature. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/164763363?accountid=13902
- Schallert, E. (1939, Feb 16). Zanuck plans stardom for walter brennan. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/164949289?accountid=13902
- Schallert, E. (1939, Dec 06). DRAMA. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/165031440?accountid=13902
- By Frederick C Othman United Press,Hollywood Correspondent. (1940, Feb 24). Brennan ready to collapse as work piles on. The Washington Post (1923-1954) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/151320136?accountid=13902
- Special to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1940, Jul 15). SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/105216935?accountid=13902
- Schallert, E. (1943, Apr 08). DRAMA AND FILM. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/165428965?accountid=13902
- Schallert, E. (1944, Aug 15). Bellamy signs pact with hunt stromberg. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/165534519?accountid=13902
- Schallert, E. (1954, Apr 08). Drama. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/166613765?accountid=13902
- Hopper, H. (1960, Jul 17). Walter brennan: Saga of reluctant performner is offbeat story of success. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/167668432?accountid=13902
- Showman Divulges First-Aid Program: 'Forgotten Fans in Sticks' Have Champion in Lippert Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 05 Sep 1960: 25.
- By, V. A. (1957, May 06). WALTER BRENNAN TO BE STAR ON TV. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/113949932?accountid=13902
- By, O. G. (1958, Jul 27). THE REAL M'COYS'. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/114428590?accountid=13902
- By, L. L. (1960, Apr 09). At 65, walter brennan's just hitting his prime. The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/141148556?accountid=13902
- By, J. L. (1968, Sep 30). Walter brennan is A spry gunfigher. The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/143279841?accountid=13902
- By, V. S. (1965, Nov 22). Walter brennan just won't slow up. The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/142546662?accountid=13902
- Walter brennan joins 'rome' cast. (1970, Sep 06). The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/147808309?accountid=13902
- Norma, L. B. (1970, Aug 09). Hollywood today. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/169847879?accountid=13902
- Norma, L. B. (1970, Aug 09). Hollywood today. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/169874261?accountid=13902
- Walter brennan in hospital. (1972, Nov 24). New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.sl.nsw.gov.au/docview/119503906?accountid=13902
- "Ruth Caroline Wells Brennan (Wife of Walter Brennan)". Findagrave.com. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
- "Dixon McCully Lademan (son-in-law of Walter Brennan)". Findagrave.com. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
- "Arthur Mike ""Big Mike"" Brennan". Findagrave.com. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
- "The Republicans of Classic Hollywood". fan.tcm.com. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
- "The Impact of the Draft Goldwater Committee on the Republican Party". ashbrook.org. Archived from the original on 3 March 2001. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
- ""The Washington Merry-Go-Round", Drew Pearson column, May 14, 1964" (PDF). dspace.wrlc.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
- Eder, Bruce (2015). "Walter Brennan: Biography". All Movie. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
- "Walter Brennan". Turner Classic Movies. Turner Entertainment Networks. 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
- Chawkins, Steve (October 8, 1999) "Camarillo Decides on the 'Real McCoy'". Los Angeles Times.
- "Walter Brennan Inducted to the Walk of Fame". walkoffame.com. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. February 8, 1960. Retrieved December 7, 2016.
- Comcast-Encore Western Channel