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Tuesday, 7 May, 2002, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Matthau's heirs claim $1m
Walter Matthau
Matthau died in 2000 after a 50-year career
The estate of late actor Walter Matthau is seeking $1m (680,000) from a film studio for payment for two films released more than 20 years ago.

The star's heirs said Matthau did not receive 80% of his fee for 1969's Cactus Flower and 1978's California Suite.

Matthau, whose career spanned 50 years, and gained a reputation for playing cantankerous but lovable slobs in films like Grumpy Old Men and The Odd Couple.

He died in July 2000 after a heart attack.

'Not paid'

Lawyer Neil Papiano said Columbia Pictures owed Matthau money for video royalties, TV syndication and foreign distribution deals for the two films.

"They've paid on certain things, but not all of it," Mr Papiano said.

The lawsuit, which alleged breach of contract and fraud, was filed at Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday, 3 May.

Jack Lemmon
Matthau was best-known for his roles alongside Jack Lemmon
Columbia's parent company, Sony Pictures Entertainment, did not comment.

Matthau became a major star in the 1960s, starring in hits including The Odd Couple and The Fortune Cookie, for which he won a best supporting actor Oscar.

But he also experienced his first health problems when he suffered a heart attack while making that film.

Three years later, Cactus Flower became an Oscar-winning comedy that saw Matthau star alongside Ingrid Bergman and Goldie Hawn.


In California Suite, Matthau starred with Michael Caine, Jane Fonda and Maggie Smith, who won an Oscar for her role.

He continued his career despite heart bypass surgery, being hospitalised for pneumonia and having a colon tumour removed.

His last film, Hanging Up, starring Diane Keaton, Meg Ryan, was released just months before his death.

The actor's son, Charlie, is a film director and producer.

See also:

21 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Walter Matthau remembered
04 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Matthau buried in private service
01 Jul 00 | Americas
Actor Walter Matthau dies
01 Jul 00 | Americas
Walter Matthau: Lovable slouch
01 Jul 00 | Americas
Walter Matthau: A life in pictures
01 Jul 00 | Americas
The films of Walter Matthau
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