Thursday, February 11, 2010

Walter Brennan’s Secret

Some of my readers might remember Walter Brennan as a character actor in Westerns who usually played the excited old codger who bursts into the sheriff’s office, proclaiming, “Sheeeriff, Sheeeriff! Black Bart’s come into town and says he’s aiming to kill ya! What you reckon we oughta do?” It comes as no surprise that in the 1930s, Walter Brennan won three Academy Awards as Best Supporting Actor in the short space of five years. A few actors have won three times, but no one has ever done so in such a short period of time. I recently learned Walter Brennan’s secret. Back in the 1930s, film extras were allowed to vote for Oscar winners and, apparently, Brennan was extraordinarily nice to the extras on his films. Shortly after, Brennan won his third Oscar, the Academy changed the rules and eliminated the film extras from the voting pool. I’ve never seen any of Brennan’s Oscar acceptance speeches, but I hope he remembered to thank the little people.

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