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CNN Larry King Weekend

Encore Presentation: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau: Great Friends and Costars

Aired June 30, 2001 - 21:00   ET



JACK LEMMON, ACTOR: I'm going to cut up some cabbage and greens and make cole slaw for tomorrow.

WALTER MATTHAU, ACTOR: I don't want any cole slaw for tomorrow, I just want to have some fun tonight.

LEMMON: I thought you liked my cole slaw!

MATTHAU: I love your cole slaw.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau: Amazing as individuals, together an odd couple dream team. A special encore of the last interview they did with us next on LARRY KING WEEKEND.

Thanks for joining us. This has been a very sad week for fans of great acting and gentlemanly behavior. The death or two-time Oscar winner Jack Lemmon has left a feeling of a sense of loss in all of us. As you know, Lemmon passed away Wednesday night of cancer-related complications; he was 76 years old. His death came nearly a year to the day after the loss of his good friend and many-time costar Walter Matthau.

The last TV interview we did with Lemmon and Matthau -- or Matthau and Lemmon, you decide the billing -- was July of 1997. Their latest movie: "Out to Sea."

My first question: exactly how many pictures had they done together?


LEMMON: What is it nine, ten?

MATTHAU: Nine or ten. If you want to count one that he directed me in one. And I count that one, "Kotch," K-O-T-C-H.

KING: So you directed that, but together on film, like in eight?

LEMMON: Eight or nine.

MATTHAU: Yes, well what about "JFK," do you count that?

LEMMON: Sure, we were both in it.

KING: Yes, you were both in it.

Before we discuss so many things about your careers, how did "Out to Sea" come about?

MATTHAU: Go ahead, Jack.

LEMMON: Well -- thanks a lot.

KING: You don't know, is that?

LEMMON: They called and they said, Matthau is hungry and the kid hasn't been working and he needs help. So anyway...

KING: Let's throw another "Grumpy Old Men." We don't have one ready.

LEMMON: No, I tell you, the first thing I was told was merely the premise which I thought was absolutely sensational for us, and that was that two of us are dance hosts on a cruise line. That's funny.

KING: That's funny. You don't have to say anything beyond that, correct. Now who called you? Was it like Friedkin -- Friedkin didn't direct this. He directed you in "Twelve Angry Men," who directed this?

LEMMON: Martha Coolidge did. She's a delight.

KING: Oh, so she called you?

LEMMON: Martha didn't call personally, I think that John Davis who had directed -- who produced the "Grumpys" -- "Grumpy" one and two...

KING: Liked this?

LEMMON: ... and was producing "Out to Sea."

KING: Did they call you before him?

LEMMON: I have no idea whether they called Walter -- more or less the same time.

KING: Do you influence each other? By that I mean, do you call him up and discuss issues...

LEMMON: Yes...

MATTHAU: They called me and I said, under no circumstances am I going to do this picture. KING: You didn't like the script?

MATTHAU: Hated it.

KING: Didn't like the concept?

MATTHAU: Everything about it was bad, wrong, no good.

KING: You thought, the idea...

MATTHAU: It was the worst picture I ever read.

KING: So it was the idea of the two of you -- you are here to plug this, right Walter? The idea of two of you as dance instructors didn't twit your fancy?

MATTHAU: No, I told them I can't dance, never have been able to dance. They tried to make me dance when I was seven and I have a terrific psychological block against dancing, and I hate dancing.

KING: So therefore casting you as a dancer?

MATTHAU: As a dance host!

KING: By the way, to give you an example, we put together -- our production staff has put together a montage of some of their dance scenes which we will show you now. Watch.




KING: Must admit, Jack looks like he's danced more than you.

MATTHAU: He's a real dancer.

KING: What's the premise? How were you dance teachers? How did this...

LEMMON: Well, he pinched -- I had my wife has passed away prior to the picture starting...

KING: Right.

LEMMON: ... and that sounds funny. Anyway, I had been married and we were going to go on a cruise celebrating an anniversary of 50th or whatever it was, or... Anyhow, I had these tickets and he finds them in my jacket and turns the damn tickets in. This is typical Matthau anyway.

KING: He would do this in real life?

LEMMON: He turns the tickets in and signs us on as dance hosts at the same time with the line... KING: Why are you doing this?

MATTHAU: Well, I run out of money. I have tickets that somebody who owed me a lot of money when I was a bookie...

KING: Now that's good typecasting.

MATTHAU: ... yes, he...

KING: That part was right at home for you.

MATTHAU: That's true.

KING: So you have gambling debts?

MATTHAU: Well, I told him I wouldn't play a dance host. They said, all right, we'll make you a gambler who tries to dance because he loses all his money gambling and he's going to get a job as a dancer.

KING: Ah, that you could relate to?

MATTHAU: Oh, I can relate to anything. I once played Macbeth. I got a lot of laughs so I quit.

KING: Who wrote "Out to Sea," Jack?

LEMMON: Who wrote "Out to Sea?"

KING: You guys don't know who wrote it.

LEMMON: Wait a minute, I forgot...

MATTHAU: There were three writers, four or five writers.

KING: It's another reason why you hate this movie. You hate this movie don't you.

MATTHAU: No, I love it. It's a wonderful movie. I haven't seen it yet.

KING: It turned out better as did you it?

MATTHAU: Well, I always have fun with Lemmon.

KING: Now let's get to that and how that began. There was a story in the "L.A. Times" in which the two of you totally disagree as to how you met. You say it was in Sardi's.


KING: You're positive it was in Sardi's?

LEMMON: I'm convinced it was in Sardi's.

KING: You bet on it? LEMMON: Yes.

KING: And you say it's where?

MATTHAU: I would never bet on it. He may be right.

KING: Where do you think it was?

MATTHAU: Well, I thought it was a Jewish delicatessen in Brentwood, where he was ordering fried shrimp and a chocolate frap. I said any schmuck who ordered fried shrimp and chocolate frap in a Jewish deli can't be all that bad!

KING: Now one of the problems in the relationship is Walter lies, right?

LEMMON: Of course.

KING: And you tell the truth?


KING: So it's probable bet you...

MATTHAU: It's like that puzzle. There was one guy, one road, they all lie and the other road, they all tell the truth. Which one was the truth teller?

KING: That's right. In this case you could do this with the two of you?

MATTHAU: Probably, but give me the map...

LEMMON: I think he just forgot the first one because that was a few years before.

KING: Did you like each other? Do you remember saying to whoever you were with, I like him?

LEMMON: Yes. I had known Walter. I admired his work and, although we had only met briefly...

MATTHAU: Did you ever not like anybody? You love everybody.

LEMMON: No I don't. There's one guy, Georgey Kunfas (ph), I don't liked him.

KING: No, Georgey isn't well liked. Well, let's pick up in a minute as to how this magic erupted for the two of you. Matthau and Lemmon, here's a clip. Watch.


MATTHAU: Herb, this is the best possible thing that could have happened to me.

LEMMON: Gee, I can't wait to hear why.

MATTHAU: Well, as dance hosts...


MATTHAU: ... it's actually our job to flirt with all the classy broads.

LEMMON: What, as dance hosts?

MATTHAU: Yes, that's how I was able to afford the tickets. You see, instead of paying for the cruise, I signed us up as dance hosts. So the cruise is free.

LEMMON: What do you mean it's free you idiot? We're working here.

MATTHAU: We're not working, we're dancing and cavorting.

LEMMON: Oh, you moron. You don't even know how to dance!

MATTHAU: Well, that's why I brought you here.






LEMMON: You tell me where the pain is.

MATTHAU: It's OK, it's better now.

LEMMON: Well, I think we may need a little adjustment.

MATTHAU: I don't need an adjustment!


MATTHAU: No, my lumbar is all right. Don't worry. (YELLING)


KING: Seems like you were enjoying that, Jack.

LEMMON: I loved it. We did 152 takes of that.

KING: There were out takes at the end of the movie right, I understand?

LEMMON: I think so, yes.

KING: You guys haven't seen it have you, is what you're telling me?

LEMMON: I have seen it, but I haven't seen it with an audience which we will tomorrow night.

KING: Right, and I'll be there. Dyan Cannon I saw.

LEMMON: Dyan is in it.

KING: She is the Gloria DeHaven.

LEMMON: Gloria DeHaven.

KING: The beautiful Gloria DeHaven. And who is with who? Who is your mate?

LEMMON: He's with Dyan and I'm with Gloria.

KING: You're with Gloria?

LEMMON: Yes. Two lovely ladies.

MATTHAU: Well, I'm really with Dyan Cannon's mother, Elaine Stritch. She went to school with me, she sat next to me. She came out of a convent in Chicago and went to a dramatic workshop, and sat next to me.

KING: What does that have to do...

MATTHAU: Well, she's in the picture. She plays the mother.

KING: Oh, she's in the picture?


KING: So, is this like "Grumpy Old Men" at sea?

LEMMON: Not really, I mean there are some similarities in the fact that we're at each other.

KING: Right, and there are women involved?

LEMMON: You know, and there are women involved. There is also I think more than the grumpies ever did -- there's a development of romantic interest as the vital part of the story to a greater extent.

KING: There was a side bar in the grumpies, right?

MATTHAU: Why is it when he said romantic interest, you gave me a dirty look?

KING: Well, let's put it this way, Walter, you've never been cast in that...

MATTHAU: I have, I have. People just don't remember.

KING: Give us your major romantic role. MATTHAU: Well, my first role on Broadway was "Fancy Meeting You Again." I was the leading man to Louie and Mcgraw (ph). And then I played house calls with Glenda Jackson. I played hopscotch with Glenda Jackson. She's now the prime minister or the member of parliament.

KING: You were a romantic lead then?

MATTHAU: Oh, yes, oh, yes for the first 35 years of my life I played...

KING: Was it -- when I refer to Mr. Lemmon he went to Harvard, and so if the deeper questions come of him, forgive me.

MATTHAU: I would be most delighted.

KING: Because he is the -- what was the magic do you think between the two of you?

LEMMON: I have no way -- I don't think you can verbalize it, Larry, and I haven't heard anybody that can take chemistry, as we say -- we're on the same wave length when we work, obviously. We seem to think the same in comedy. In other words, what I think may be funny, Walter will probably think will be funny.

KING: What was the first thing you did together?

LEMMON: Was "Fortune Cookie" with Billy Wilder.

MATTHAU: "Fortune Cooke."

KING: "Fortune Cookie" for Billy Wilder. Did you sense that it was working right away?

MATTHAU: Yes, I think the magic is that he's neat and nifty and I'm slow and sloppy.

KING: And that way in real life, too?

MATTHAU: Yes, it works that way.

KING: So you have to have...

MATTHAU: Well, not really in real life. In real life he's very sloppy, and I'm compulsively neat.

KING: He lies all the time, right?

LEMMON: Of course.

KING: You get used to it?

LEMMON: Yes, he just makes up things. I hang around all day long learning things that aren't true.

KING: When did the friendship begin? LEMMON: I think right away.

KING: From making "Fortune Cookie."

Yeah. We got along right away.

KING: Your wives are friends and everything.

MATTHAU: How could you not be friendly with him? This man is amenable, delightful...

KING: One of the easiest people to be around?

MATTHAU: Yes. Generous, no ego problem. He has no ego problem. This man is without an ego.

LEMMON: Isn't that, what is that? A Yugoslavian car?

KING: And what is it you like about -- what is the thing that...

LEMMON: Well, I don't -- his sense of humor, of what we call a sense of humor. His appreciation of humor.

MATTHAU: Yuma, sense of yuma, from Arizona.

KING: Yes, yuma.

LEMMON: And in working with them, it just seemed to just be like butter melting from the very beginning. I mean it was so easy and fluid and ...

KING: And that's unexplainable and mershet (ph), meant to be, right?

MATTHAU: Meshert (ph), yes, yes indeed.

KING: You two were meant to be?

LEMMON: Very, very easy to get along with and the whole relationship became enjoyable from the very first day.

KING: We'll be right back with Matthau and Lemmon.


MATTHAU: There are two sisters who live in our building, English gitrls. One is a widow, the other one is a divorcee. They're a barell of laughs.

LEMMON: How do you know?

MATTHAU: I was trapped in the elevator with them last week.

Please Felix, please just say yes, just so I can call them now. Please, say yes for my sake!

LEMMON: If it means that much to you.

MATTHAU: That a baby! That's the Felix I've been waiting for!

LEMMON: Now what do they look like?

MATTHAU: Don't worry, yours is very pretty.






MATTHAU: Well, did you?


MATTHAU: You know!

LEMMON: Oh, please, that's a private matter.

MATTHAU: Private my foot. Did you?


LEMMON: ... that's all I can tell you.

MATTHAU: You better tell me.

LEMMON: All right, we did the horizontal mambo! We danced it! It was the greatest sex I ever has in my life! All right? Are you happy?




KING: Are you doing another grumpy?

LEMMON: No, we're doing "Odd Couple Two."

KING: "Odd Couple Two."


KING: By Neil Simon?

LEMMON: By Neil Simon, yeah.

KING: Fresh new script? Concept being... LEMMON: Our kids are getting married now, which throws us back together again for the wedding.


KING: Have you remarried?

LEMMON: I have remarried twice and I've had five broken engagements and five dates that disappeared on the first date. They got up and went to the ladies room and never came back.

KING: And you, what has happened to our sports writer?

MATTHAU: My line is, you just had a little trouble with your personality. I'm the sports writer. I'm moved to Sarasota, Florida.

KING: Retired?

MATTHAU: No, I'm up there watching the Saratoga...

KING: Sarasota baseball team.

MATTHAU: Sarasota Siberian Wildcats and...

KING: Are you married?


KING: No? Still fooling around with a lot of women?

MATTHAU: Oh, yeah, yeah. I have now -- I have the ladies. I have ladies in my poker game. They bring me all sorts of goodies. I don't have to cook. I don't have to worry about it. They fill up my refrigerator; they wash the dishes; they do everything.

KING: But the fun part of the odd couple was that they lived together. Now here, they're not living together, their children are getting married, so what...

LEMMON: But we're thrown together for even more than in the first one, for about 99 percent of the film, it's just us trying to get to the wedding, which is in California in a very small town -- San Molino or something.

MATTHAU: San Sarino.

LEMMON: San Sarino?

KING: Now, where do you live?

LEMMON: Ricky Ricardo.

MATTHAU: San Catino. San Ferino. San Jemima.

LEMMON: Yeah, any way.

KING: He lives in Sarasota.

LEMMON: And I'm in New York. But we both catch the same plane going to the coast, and we're back together again. From the time I see if I start driving him crazy again...

KING: When do you start shooting?

LEMMON: We did.

MATTHAU: We did.

LEMMON: We were like three weeks into it.

KING: Who is directing?

MATTHAU: What's his name?

LEMMON: Howie Deutch (ph)?

KING: You guys are oblivious to news. You don't know who writes it. Neil Simon wrote this, right?


KING: Was this kind of an automatic -- if you get a call that says Neil Simon wants to do a follow up to "Odd Couple."..

LEMMON: I would find it very difficult to even contemplate not doing it.

KING: That may have been, Walter, someone said the perfect play -- the comedy play, "The Odd Couple."


KING: Do you agree?

MATTHAU: Well, I don't know about perfect, but it was very, very good and very successful. And the two usually don't go together, you know.

KING: You did you the play...


KING: With Art Carney?


KING: Did you ever do the play?

LEMMON: No, I never did the play. But I'll tell you god's truth, I think that this script that Neil has written -- "Odd Couple Two," I think, is superior to the original one -- to the first one.

KING: No kidding? LEMMON: I think it is funnier...

MATTHAU: Very funny.

LEMMON: ...and better. It is just hilarious. It really is.

KING: This is an older Felix, who is still the same.

LEMMON: Yeah, so if there's any faults with this picture, it's not going to be in the writing. It will be in direction and acting, if there is any.

KING: And you, of course, as a major ladies man, that's well cast, right? Because this is in you, even though you have been married successfully for many years, you are basically a ladies' guy?

MATTHAU: You mean in real life? No, not real.

KING: Come on, Walter, there are more rumors about you than Jack.

MATTHAU: You mean roomers, r-oo-m-e-r-s, roomers?


MATTHAU: No, we gave up the hotel business long time ago.

KING: We're going to take a break. We'll be back with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. We mentioned the "Odd Couple." Here's "Odd Couple" one -- watch.


MATTHAU: Six months I lived alone in this apartment, all alone in eight big rooms. I was dejected, despondent and disgusting. And then you moved in, my closest and dearest friend and after three weeks of close personal contact, I'm about to have a nervous breakdown. Do you me a favor, will you Felix, move into the kitchen. Live with your pots, your pans, your ladles, your meat thermometers. When you come out, just ring a bell and I'll run into the bedroom. I'm asking you nicely, Felix, as a friend, stay out of my way.

LEMMON: Walk on the paper, will you, I washed the floor in there. Hey, stay away from me, Oscar. Hey, Oscar stay away from me! Oscar!

MATTHAU: This is the day I'm going to kill you!




KING: Welcome back. And more now of this encore presentation of the last interview we did with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau together.


KING: Have you ever learned how to promote a film?

MATTHAU: Yeah. The best way to promote a film is not to show up.

KING: You think that this hurts the movie?

MATTHAU: Yeah, people get embarrassed about laughing. I once did a play called "A Shot In The Dark"..

KING: Great play.

MATTHAU: ... and we had a show train. Well, it was turned into the "Pink Panther."

KING: Right.

MATTHAU: Because of the Edie plan. That's another long story. But we had a show train from South Carolina and they didn't laugh at all. And I apologized to the author, who came in from Paris that night, Marcella Shau (ph). I apologized to him because the people from South Carolina had never seen a play and they thought it was rude to laugh, because the actors were real actors -- live actors on stage -- might be embarrassed by all the noise of the laughter.

KING: Which explains why you don't like to promote movies because you feel the audience now at home would be embarrassed to laugh?

MATTHAU: Especially on Tuesdays.

KING: I see. Jack, why...

LEMMON: Did you ever hear anything like this in your life?

KING: Now, we're asking, you -- Harvard man -- explain that -- what he just said.

LEMMON: It is an impossibility...

KING: explain?

LEMMON: It cannot be explained, but that goes part and parcel with about 99 percent of the stuff he gives me all day long.

KING: He's been doing this to you all the time?

LEMMON: Oh, sure, you can't explain most of the stuff he's talking about.

KING: One thing he deserves more...

LEMMON: But he does say it with total authority. KING: That's right.

LEMMON: As if he knows exactly what he's talking about, and he probably does, but we don't.

MATTHAU: It's the only way to go.

KING: But you -- you would agree that he deserves much more credit which you've gotten in the serious end?

LEMMON: Oh, yeah.

KING: Because you've done a lot of serious work. You've got one coming, a remake of...

LEMMON: "Twelve Angry..."

KING: ..."Twelve Angry Men." Do you get a lot of credit as a major serious actor, et cetera, and you do. And when we think much Matthau, we only think funny, wrong?

LEMMON: Yeah, he is because his -- you know -- he has stretched and could be stretched a lot more than -- than...

KING: You played evil once in -- what was that?

MATTHAU: Evil? A lot of pictures.

KING: But that presidential movie where you were corrupt as they come.

MATTHAU: "Fail-Safe"?

KING: "Fail-Safe." I hated you.

MATTHAU: I was playing Herman Con (ph). Well, he was a real character. But you know, non-comedic projects are much easier. Comedic...

KING: Do you agree with that?

LEMMON: Yeah, in general I think comedy is more difficult to write, to direct and to act successfully.

MATTHAU: You know the story of Edmond Wen (ph), he was dying, an old actor and someone said to him, Eddie, is dying hard? He said yeah, but not as hard as comedy.

LEMMON: That was the last thing he said and boom. It's true. -- boom. It's true.

KING: Comedy is...

MATTHAU: That's the serious stuff. People say, when are you going to do serious stuff? I look at them as though they were crazy. My serious stuff is my comedy. That's how I make my points. KING: Shakespeare is easier than Neil Simon?

MATTHAU: Shakespeare's "Twelfth night."

KING: Easier?

MATTHAU: Oh, easier, yeah, "Macbeth," is much easier -- to do Macbeth than Hamlet. It's all written in for you. You know, you don't have to worry about the laughs. You just say the lines, you say them correctly; you're a winner.

KING: Like "Glenngary Glenn Ross," right? Do it right? Got it down.


KING: The lines are right, aren't they?

LEMMON: Oh, yeah, sure. The lines flow? That was hard, though, I gather the look on your face...

LEMMON: No, well "Glenngary," I think is -- is -- I think that David Manmouth (ph) is very difficult to do in many ways. He's a very difficult playwright to do, but one of the very, very greatest.

KING: We'll take a break. We'll be back with more Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. Here's a scene from their first movie ever together -- we'll ask about that -- "The Fortune Cookie" directed by the brilliant Billy Wilder -- watch.


MATTHAU: You want to know why you lost your wife? Because you got no character, no guts! I'm surprised it didn't show up in the X- rays.

LEMMON: You left out the most important thing: no brains! Playing all that bull about how I'm going to get Sandy back! Well I don't want any part of her; not anymore. The cold-blooded little tramp shacked up with that guy there!

MATTHAU: Not so loud; do you want her to hear?






UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: You were going to ask a question.

LEMMON: In anything that man ever does, there's some element or risk, right? Well that's why we have what we call defense in depth. Now, that means back-up systems, two back-up systems, two back-up systems. You were there and you saw what happened. There was no leakage of radiation.

You know why? The system works. Even with a faulty relay, even with a stuck valve, that system works.


KING: We're back with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. Lemmon, by the way, won Oscars as both actor and best supporting actor and also, the only actor to win the best actor award twice at the Cannes Film Festival for "The China Syndrome" and for "Missing." Of course, Mr. Matthau has had a long and distinguished career of his own with major films and awards as well for which we are indeed proud to have you in our presence.

MATTHAU: With confidence in our Armed Forces...

KING: Touching some other bases, Ma'amot (ph) is difficult -- why -- because when you see him it seems to sing?

LEMMON: Yeah, but what you really got to do is really catch his rhythm and get that script down so cold because each ah, ooh, i, ir, or -- every single interruption is written. And has a certain rhythm to it and if you drop any of those little things or start ad libbing yourself, you'll screw it up, it's not as good.

KING: In sports, Walter, we know if you put an all star team together, that doesn't necessarily mean they will succeed -- there's a certain sync to it. Is the same true if we put seven great actors together...

MATTHAU: Absolutely.

KING: ...we should not necessarily think this will be a hit?

MATTHAU: Absolutely not. Look at the Dodgers, you know the big controversy today about the Dodgers?

KING: They have Koreans, and Japanese, and Mexicans.

MATTHAU: Well, Piazza, who is the leading hitter some place or other...

KING: Left hand catcher, maybe.

MATTHAU: And he put it very succinctly. He said that there was too much diversity on the team. Although I disagree that diversity is not a good thing, because I think main -- in the main, diversity is a good thing, but the diversity must come together and mesh and blend and present a smooth and victorious finish.

KING: But sometimes we've had...

MATTHAU: You can't be diverse and have a flop. KING: That's right, so we have had -- man, we have to understand what he's talking about, since we have asked about actors working together, it's the same as the Dodgers.


KING: OK, we could have Lerner and Lowe write a musical and have it bomb and Leonard Bernstein be contributing to it -- so, it -- what I was getting to, is in "Glengarry Glen Ross" where you had -- there's nobody bad in the movie...

LEMMON: Yeah, it was a great ensemble cast.

KING: But it worked?

LEMMON: Yeah, it worked.

KING: Didn't have to though?

LEMMON: No, didn't have to, but it did -- same with "Twelve Angry Men." Those two projects had the greatest ensemble cast that I have ever been lucky enough to be a part of.

KING: By the way, tell them who is in "Twelve Angry Men." There's George C. Scott.

LEMMON: George C. is there and he's absolutely brilliant. George C., Hugh Cronin.

KING: Tony Danza is in it?

LEMMON: Tony Danza is in a sense surprised. As Tony knows, that is not at all meant as a put down, but the image people have of Tony Danza is not one of Tony -- of appreciation of an acting talent as much as it should be. He is absolutely a stand-out in this with all the -- all the terrific actors.

KING: What was it like to work with Al Pacino, my friend?

LEMMON: I loved working with Al, yeah, he's a great actor.

KING: Perfectionist?


KING: That whole cast was a perfectionist? Are you a perfectionist?

MATTHAU: No, I hate perfection.

KING: So...

MATTHAU: Perfection to me means you spend much too much time trying to be perfect.

KING: Therefore... MATTHAU: You should be a little...

KING: Do you clash as actors since Jack is the top of his game and you don't care?

MATTHAU: No, he's the perfectionist and I'm not, and we never clash.

KING: Explain that, that doesn't make sense.

MATTHAU: Explain that will you, Jack?

LEMMON: Explain that, thank you, Walt! No, because Walter is as usual being a little self-effacing saying he's not being a perfectionist.

KING: He is?

LEMMON: He, in much more so than he thinks, himself even. But what happens is that when we do it, he's terrific. He knows everything. When we get on that set, he's there. He's cold with the lines. I mean, he knows them cold and we're set and we go. And he's knocking it out from take one on or from the first read through.

MATTHAU: See, he was right at first. He said he's cold with the lines. He's right. It takes me an hour to warm up.

KING: Have you done a lot of ensemble work where six or seven great actors are in one production?

MATTHAU: Absolutely, I did a screenplay recently directed by my son Charlie. And we had Jack Lemmon, we had Matthau, we had Piper Laurie, Sissy Spacek, Mary Steenburgen, Charles Durning, Jo Don (ph) Baker...

KING: We had you and your son on together talking about that.


KING: In fact, as we go to break, we're going to show a clip from the "Grass Hawk." What do you think of that?


KING: It was a great film. As we go to this break with Matthau and Lemmon, this scene from the "Grass Hawk."


MATTHAU: Did I hear that you say that you were a chemical engineer?

LEMMON: Correct.

MATTHAU: Exactly, what does a chemical engineer do?

LEMMON: I get ideas.

MATTHAU: What sort of ideas do you get?

LEMMON: Chemical ideas.





KING: We're back with the dynamic duo of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. You were billed equally. You're always billed equally, right?

MATTHAU: No, he's got first billing.

KING: Ah-hah!

LEMMON: Only because of -- it was first billing in the first film.

KING: That's the way...

LEMMON: If he keeps on in the business and gets anywhere I may let him have first billing.

KING: I thought it was because your name starts with an "L" and his names starts with an "M."

LEMMON: Yes, alphabetically.

MATTHAU: No, that's not the way it is. He gets first billing because he was a movie star...

KING: Before you were?

MATTHAU: ... before I came into the movies.

KING: There's no -- do you get paid the same?


MATTHAU: Approximately the same.

KING: What do you mean approximately?

MATTHAU: How much did you get?

LEMMON: About a hundred mill.

KING: You are a golf wacko. That still remains right, that has not changed?


KING: What is your pastime?

MATTHAU: Dice, I love to shoot dice. No, I -- you eat cereal? Are you cereal?

KING: I am very, very puffed wheat.

MATTHAU: I like to walk. I love walking, listening to Mozart.

KING: No golf?

MATTHAU: Reading. No, golf has never been one of my...

KING: Bores you? Passions?

MATTHAU: ... has never been one of my passions.

KING: How about betting?

MATTHAU: I used to do that.

KING: You don't bet anymore?

MATTHAU: No, no I gave I up betting.

KING: You don't bet sports events?

MATTHAU: No, I will not bet another game.

KING: Did you take a devastating loss somewhere?

MATTHAU: Took a terrible loss and never bet another game.

KING: Do you believe that?

LEMMON: No, I don't believe him.

MATTHAU: He's always lying. This guy -- he looks like such a scholar and from Harvard.

KING: You still play cards?

MATTHAU: No, I don't see well enough.

KING: Wait a minute.

MATTHAU: I don't see well enough.

KING: Did you go to Gambler's Anonymous? How did you lick this?

MATTHAU: Well, I haven't licked it yet because...

KING: You just said you'll never bet again.

MATTHAU: Yes, but the last bet I made was... No, actually I am in a cold spell so I gave it up. Also, my bookie went to Europe.

KING: You have never been attracted to gambling have you?

LEMMON: No. I don't know why but I haven't.

KING: So there's a lot of things...

LEMMON: I think it's great fun sometimes when I am playing golf just to give it a little uch, is to bet the other guy five bucks a hole or something like that.

MATTHAU: A little uch?

KING: Have you ever tried to get him to play golf?

LEMMON: Yes, I got him to go out to Hill Crest and walk around with me one day. That was it. Once. I walked -- he says, it keeps me away from the bookie too long and it's a waste of time. The walking is good but what's all of this swinging, I mean forget it?

KING: What are your memories of "Buddy, Buddy." We're going to show a clip from that and then, out of this break.

MATTHAU: Separated acromial clavicular.

KING: What are you talking about?

MATTHAU: This. The bone comes up now. I fell down, hit my shoulder.

KING: Making that movie, right?


LEMMON: He went on a laundry chute onto a platform that was about 12 feet high with mattresses on it. And I might have gone first, but when we came back from lunch, it was set up. We hadn't done the shot yet. And I said, let's try it, and Walter says, OK. I said, go ahead, you want to go first? He says, fine I'll do it. So he went feet first into the thing and he landed on the platform but we didn't know the platform had not been set in the right position yet. It was just sort of under the chute but it was too far away.


LEMMON: So when he landed his fanny just landed on the platform and the mattress and he automatically fell backwards but there was nothing to hold him. So he went backwards off the platform head first down onto the stage which is like cement.

KING: Wow.

MATTHAU: What do you mean like cent? It was cement!

LEMMON: And he hit the cross bars with his shoulder on the way down. KING: That's what you meant -- see, that's why you threw me when I asked you the question, what is your memories of "Buddy, Buddy" and you give me a medical term.

MATTHAU: Separated acromial clavicular. I want you to memorize that, Larry.

KING: Therefore you did not enjoy that movie?

MATTHAU: Oh, sure I enjoyed it because I had Lemmon again to work with and he's always delightful and I had Billy Wilder, the great Billy Wilder.

KING: Did you enjoy it, Jack?

LEMMON: Yes, for the same reasons...

KING: Didn't do as well as the others thought, right?

LEMMON: Yes, I was not as crazy about the script frankly, despite Wilder's and I.A.L. Diamond's greatness -- I did not think it was one of their best.

KING: Anyway, be that as it may, here's a scene as we go to break from "Buddy, Buddy."



MATTHAU: What the hell is this?

LEMMON: Oh. Oh, God. I thought I'd never find you.

MATTHAU: Just who are you looking for?

LEMMON: Who am I looking -- you, Trabucco.

MATTHAU: There's nobody here by that name.

LEMMON: There's nobody here by that -- what are you trying to do to me? I -- it's taken me months!

MATTHAU: Sorry, you got the wrong island. Fix up his boat. Give him a gallon of water and away he goes.

LEMMON: For God's sake don't you recognize me, Victor Clooney, the turkey, the piss brain.


LEMMON: That's the one.




MATTHAU: Hey dickhead, you win the lottery?

LEMMON: Enjoy your shower, smartass?

MATTHAU: Gotta use hot water you shmuck! You'll never get me. See you later, Gustafson. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Are you always open to projects, gentlemen?



KING: Oui meaning yes?


KING: Oh I see. I didn't know whether you meant French or you meant you were speaking for the both of you. Always open to new projects.


KING: You do apparently work a lot more than Walter of late. By that I mean, you always seem to be doing something.

LEMMON: The last few years -- last couple of years, yes, I have really worked too much.

KING: And how is your health? We're concerned, we read reports of Matthau?

MATTHAU: Tremendous. My health is tremendous.

KING: Meaning?

MATTHAU: Excellent. Everything is absolutely perfect.

LEMMON: Except for the blindness.

KING: Now, you couldn't see the camera.

MATTHAU: Yes. Well, I got a cataract here. It's a micro cyst on the cornea. This one, I've had lens implant and I've had some laser beams opening up a window in the capsule. So I see perfectly with this one. This one needs a little work.

KING: I see. Everything else is tip-top?

MATTHAU: Otherwise all right.

KING: Where did the rumors start then, do you think?

MATTHAU: Well, you know, if you have a boil on one of your buttocks...

KING: Yes.

MATTHAU: You know what a buttock is, you know what it... it's a medical term.

KING: Yes.

MATTHAU: And if you have a boil there ...

KING: If you have a boil on the buttocks...

MATTHAU: There are newspapers that will blow that up in the headlines.

KING: Cancer of the buttock.

MATTHAU: Cancer of the buttock. Three days to live!


KING: So what you're telling is, you did have a boil on the buttock and those stories...

MATTHAU: Well, it was a smaller boil.

KING: And your health, Mr. Lemmon?

LEMMON: Terrific. No boils!

KING: Do either of you ever think of retiring?

MATTHAU: Sure. I retired once a couple of times. And I looked to do, as people do when they retire. They look for something to do that interests them. So I retired. As a matter of fact, I have been retired for a long time now. But I look for jobs as an actor.

KING: That's not retired then?

MATTHAU: Oh, sure it is. I am retired, but I work as an actor.


KING: Mr. Lemmon, we again as we come to the close of the program...

LEMMON: Would you explain that to me please?

KING: ... is he retired or is he not retired?

LEMMON: No, he is not retired. He comes on very strong. He is never retiring.

KING: Mr. Lemmon appears to be in the same boat, retired but working.

MATTHAU: Oh, yes. Well, people, when they retire, they retire so they can go play golf; they can travel; they can read; they can listen to music; they can walk. I do all that...

KING: So you are retired?

MATTHAU: ... while I am working. And that's a retirement kind of job. I love it.

KING: Both of you also have had -- in our remaining moments -- long, happy marriages. Explain. Why did yours work?

LEMMON: I just got lucky, I guess.

KING: Do you think luck is a big part of it?

LEMMON: I think luck is a great part of it, because I think that the particular makeup of the person that you are attracted to and that you fall in love with, is very important. Even down to that old bromide of a sense of humor and all of that. We laugh together constantly. And probably...

MATTHAU: But when his wife laughs, you can't hear him laughing because she's got a laugh that can be heard from Saskatchewan.

LEMMON: That's true. And the first -- when we first met, when I first saw her and everything, I was doing a picture on a sound-proof stage at Columbia in the old studios here. And in the middle of the scene that I was doing with Kim Novak, I could hear somebody laughing next door through a sound-proof wall.

KING: Your wife.

LEMMON: I said I got to meet this girl, whoever that is. And then I was introduced and it was Felicia.

KING: And the reason for your successful marriage to Carol?

MATTHAU: I have never met anyone as quite as beautiful -- and that means a lot to me. She's the most magnificent looking human specimen I have ever seen.

KING: But there's something beneath the physical?

MATTHAU: Oh, no.


MATTHAU: That's what keeps it going.

LEMMON: Oh, lordy!

KING: Thank you Mr. Matthau, always nice seeing you. Thank you Jack for explaining that.

LEMMON: Good to see you, Larry.


KING: As we've said, that 1997 interview was the last time Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau were on this program together. When we return, Lemmon remembers his good pal and remarkable acting partner.


KING: Oscar winner Walter Matthau died on July 1 of last year; he was 79. About two weeks after his death, Jack Lemmon joined us for a tribute to him. Also on that show, Actress Carol Burnett and Diane Cannon and Walter's son Charlie. A sad occasion, of course, but the Matthau-Lemmon magic in "The Odd Couple" made everybody laugh.



MATTHAU: I got you know, Felix! There's no place for you to go but down.

LEMMON: Are you out of your mind? What? Do you want to fight?

Let's go down to the living room, huh?

MATTHAU: I don't want you in my living room. I don't want you in my bedroom. I don't want you in my bathroom, my kitchen, my elevator, my hall or in my building. I don't want you at all!

LEMMON: What are you talking about?

MATTHAU: It's all over, Felix, the whole marriage -- we're getting an annulment. Don't you understand, I don't want to live with you anymore! I want you to pack up your things, tie it up in Saran Wrap and get out of here!

LEMMON: You mean actually move out?

MATTHAU: Actually, physically, immediately.

LEMMON: You mean move out this minute?

MATTHAU: Yes, this minutes, if you can do it sooner, I'd appreciate it.

LEMMON: You know, I've got a good mind to really leave.

MATTHAU: Why doesn't he hear me? I know I'm talking. I recognize my voice.


KING: Greatest stage comedy ever? Jack, was the stage play -- was that one of the great comedies ever put on on a stage, one of the great performances? LEMMON: Oh yes, and I think that Walter's performance was the best performance I've ever seen in comedy.

KING: What was he doing there? Obviously, it's a great script and a great idea.

LEMMON: He was just playing the hell out of that guy, that's what he was doing. He just -- he was Oscar. He wanted to be Felix, he always did, and he was plaguing Mike Nichols when out of town, who directed the play, and Neil Simon, of course, who wrote it, saying that Oscar is too easy. He says, let me do, Felix, I can really act, and Neil Simon said, well, act in somebody else's play; in my play, do Oscar.

KING: Was it fun doing Felix?

LEMMON: Oh, yes. It was great.

KING: Did you invent that little thing with throat that Felix had?

LEMMON: No, I did my own sound, yes.

KING: He had this little thing he did? Can you do it?

LEMMON: Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah!


LEMMON: I had more trouble with that scene.

KING: Why? Did he know you were going to do it?

LEMMON: Because Walter's reactions were first, you know, cut it out, will you? What are you doing? What -- and he's looking around, and here he smiles at the other people, you know, because everybody in the delicatessen, or diner or whatever is looking over there and so forth, and he's looking at them, you know. Cut it out will you. He was killing me.

KING: I guess no one was closer or more closely identified with him than you, Jack, fair to say, right?

LEMMON: Probably, because of all of the films, yes.

KING: Was it also a friendship?

LEMMON: Very close.

KING: Developed from acting together?

LEMMON: Yes, that's how it started, yes.

KING: How did you learn of his death?

LEMMON: If Walter knew, he'd say, "I might have known it." I was sitting on the throne, in the john, and Felicia, my bride, came in, and she had been up, I was getting up, and this was in the next morning, and she came in, and she knocked and came in, and bent over gave me a kiss -- shit.

KING: Did you know right then? No?

LEMMON: She said she's not going to smile anymore,


KING: Jack Lemmon in July of last year, remembering Walter Matthau. Our thoughts, of course, are with Jack's family tonight. He's going to be deeply missed. We're thankful for the so many times he appeared on this show and for the legacy of incredible acting he leaves behind, from laugh-out-loud comedies to gut-wrenching drama, the late, great Jack Lemmon did it all.

Thanks for watching. Good night.