LOUISIANA, Mo. — Wednesday, March 3 marks the release of the last movie by a Pike County actor who helped establish the Academy Awards.
Louisiana native Claude Gillingwater appeared on Broadway stages, in silent films and in talking pictures during a career that spanned four decades. He often portrayed curmudgeons with a heart of gold. His last movie was “Café Society,” which was released on March 3, 1939.
Gillingwater performed with dozens of famous people, including Shirley Temple, Greta Garbo, Jimmy Durante and Vivien Leigh. He even appeared with the actors who portrayed the Wicked Witch, the Cowardly Lion and Uncle Henry from the Wizard of Oz.
One of Gillingwater’s lasting legacies was as a founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which presents the Oscars each year.
His son, Claude Junior, had a brief acting career before going on to be an artist on such seminal movies as “Citizen Kane” and “Spartacus.”
Claude Gillingwater made more than 90 movies. He died at age 69 and is buried in Glendale, Calif.