Nat Pendleton

Active - 1924 - 1947  |   Born - Aug 9, 1895   |   Died - Oct 12, 1967   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Crime, Romance, Mystery

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Born in Iowa, Nat Pendleton was raised in New York, where he attended Columbia University. A champion wrestler in his college days, Pendleton joined the U.S. Olympic team in 1920, winning a silver medal for his grappling talents. He turned professional, becoming World's Champion in 1924. Around this time, Pendleton was hired to play a wrestler (what a stretch) in the Broadway play Naughty Cinderella. He decided to switch to acting full-time, heading to Hollywood in 1927. Some of his earlier film roles required him to merely look tough and flex his muscles while the stars around him made funny; as football player McHardie in the Marx Brothers' Horse Feathers (1932), Pendleton isn't even given a screen credit. He finally graduated to leading roles in 1933, playing a wrestler (what, again?) in Deception, for which he wrote the screenplay. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Pendleton was one of Hollywood's busiest and best-liked character actors -- still specializing in brawny roles, but at last permitted to get some of the laughs himself rather than simply stooging for others. For his second appearance in a Marx Brothers film, 1939's At the Circus, Pendleton, decked in a handlebar mustache and Harpo-like wig, was prominently billed as crooked strongman Goliath. His best-remembered film roles included thick-eared ambulance driver Joe Wayland in MGM's Dr. Kildare films and blustering cop-turned-drill sergeant Mike Collins in Abbott and Costello's two Buck Privates efforts. Thanks to careful investments, Pendleton was able to retire from filmmaking in 1947, at the age of 52. Nat Pendleton was the brother of another busy character actor, Gaylord (Steve) Pendleton.

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