Walter Pidgeon

Walter Davis Pidgeon (1897 - 1984)

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Walter Davis Pidgeon
Born in East Saint John, New Brunswick, Canadamap
Husband of — married in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, Canadamap
Husband of — married in Chicago, Illinois, USAmap
Father of [private daughter (1920s - unknown)]
Died in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California, United Statesmap
Profile manager: Bob Jewett private message [send private message]
Profile last modified | Created 3 Sep 2014 | Last significant change: 19 Nov 2018
14:27: Aaron Gullison edited the Biography for Walter Davis Pidgeon (1897-1984). (add start time) [Thank Aaron for this]
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Categories: New Brunswick Performing Artists | Willow Run, Michigan | Collaborative Profile of the Week | Notable Canadians.

New Brunswick Performing Artists
Walter Pidgeon is Notable.


Walter Davis Pidgeon, was born 23 Sept 1897, in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada.[1] On the copy of his birth record, there is a note dated September 3, 1967 that reads "This is the Walter Pidgeon heard on the radio. This is his 70th birthday"[2] He was the son of C. Burpee Pidgeon, a merchant tailor, and Hannah Sophronia Sanborn.[1] He had two full brothers, Ira and Charles, three half brothers, Frank, David and Don, and a half sister, Nettie.

In 1901, the family seems to have been enumerated twice. Hannah and Sophronia are the same person:

  • In Saint John, New Brunswick, with wife Hannah and children Frank, 28, David, 24, Don, 22 (Burpee's children from a first marriage); Walter, 3 and Harry, 10 months.[3]
  • In Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, with wife Sophronia and children Walter, 3 and Ira, 10 months[4]

In 1911, Walter was living with his mother, Hanna S., and two younger brothers, Ira S. and Charles W., in Saint John, New Brunswick.[5]

Pidgeon studied law and drama at the University of New Brunswick. World War I interrupted, and he enlisted in the 65th Battery, Royal Canadian Field Artillery. He was injured, and spent seventeen months in a military hospital and as a result never saw action.[6] Later during the war, Walter signed an "Officer Declaration Paper" for the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force", but the form was never countersigned by a Commanding Officer. In his declaration, he stated his birth date as September 23, 1895 (two years before his actual birth date). He was living in Boston, Massachusetts and was working in Investment Securities.[7]

He married Edna Pickles in 1919, in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.[8] The couple moved to Boston, Massachusetts. Edna died giving birth to Walter's only child Edna Pidgeon, who was born Oct 19, 1921, in Massachusetts.[9]

In 1920, Walter and wife Edna were living in Boston, Massachusetts. Walter was working as a salesman of stocks and bonds.[10] He also studied voice at the New England Conservatory of Music.[6]

He began his stage career singing in Boston in an act with Elsie Janis[11] From there he went to New York, where he made his Broadway Debut in 1925.[6][11].

He received offers from Hollywood, and in 1926 went to California, to try his luck. He made silent films, and then some "singing pictures," which Walter preferred not to remember.[11]

In 1930, Walter was living in Beverley Hills, California, with his daughter Edna, mother Hannah and brother Charles. His occupation is listed as "Actor, Motion Pictures".[12]

His second marriage to Ruth Walker, was Dec 12, 1931 in Chicago, Illinois.[9]

In 1939, when Walter applied for United States Citizenship, he was 6' 2 ½", weighed 195 lbs.; was blue eyed, black haired, and resided at 710 No. Walden Dr., Beverly Hills, California. His occupation was actor. His lawful entry point had been Vanceboro, Maine on Oct 17, 1918. His petition was approved 24 Dec 1943, and he became a United States Citizen.[9]

Hollywood musicals went out of favor. So during the 30's Pidgeon spent some time back on Broadway. Some of the time, he had a contract with MGM, so he continued to work steadily although in smaller roles.[6][11]

At the time of the 1940 census, Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon were neighbours. Walter was living with his wife Ruth, daughter Edna, a butler and a maid.[13]

Living next to Greer Garson must have been a coincidence, because it was not until 1941, that Walter Pidgeon starred with Greer in Blossoms in the Dust. He would make eight films with her. Later that year he starred in Academy Award Best Picture How Green Was My Valley.

In 1944 he "discovered" Rose Will Monroe at Willow Run, Michigan, while working on footage for films promoting the sale of war bonds. Rose, identified as "Rosie the Riveter" received national attention in the promotional films they made during the war.[14]

Pidgeon remained with MGM through the mid-'50s, making films like Dream Wife and Hit the Deck with Jane Powell and old pal Gene Raymond. In 1956 Pidgeon left the movies to do some work in the theater, but he returned to film in 1961. Pidgeon retired from acting in 1977.

Walter Pidgeon, died 25 Sept. 1984, after suffering from a series of strokes.[15]

He donated his body to medical science, specifically to the UCLA Medical School.

Walter Pidgeon appeared the "consummate gentleman." "Every character he played had a touch of class." Even the evil characters were infused "with his innate dignity."[15]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Vital Statistics from Government Records" Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, RS141A2 Index to County Birth Records, Saint John County, Code 1-2-153-958, Microfilm F14954 - Record for Walter Davis Pidgeon, 1897
  2. "New Brunswick, Provincial Returns of Births and Late Registrations, 1810-1906," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 23 February 2016), C B*Pee Pidgeon in entry for Walter Dor*S Pidgeon, 23 Sep 1897; citing Saint John, St John, New Brunswick, certificate 005072, Provincial Archives, Fredericton; FHL microfilm 2,024,654.
  3. "Canada Census, 1901," database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 23 February 2016), C B Pidgeon, K, Saint John (city/cité), New Brunswick, Canada; citing p. 9, Library and Archives of Canada, Ottawa.
  4. "Canada Census, 1901," database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 23 February 2016), B Caleb Pidgeon, V, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada; citing p. 1, Library and Archives of Canada, Ottawa.
  5. Automated Genealogy, 1911 Census of Canada, New Brunswick, Saint John, 22, Page 14 - Hanna Pidgeon and 3 children
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "Walter Pidgeon" Wikipedia Article
  7. Library and Archives Canada, Soldiers of the First World War: 1914-1918; Reference: RG 150, Accession 1992-03/166. Box 7819-6; Item 574248 - Record for Walter D. Pidgeon, Lt
  8. Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics; Registration Year 1919, Book 1, Page 687 Record for Walter Davis Pidgeon and Edna Verne Pickles
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 United States of America Petition for Naturalization. Walter Davis Pidgeon. Los Angeles, California, District Court. Petition #114603 dated Jan 1, 1939. Petition was approved 24 Dec 1943.
  10. "United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 February 2016), Walter J Pigson, Boston Ward 8, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States; citing sheet 1B, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,820,742.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 "Actor's Life Is Dull Copy Says Pidgeon." The Evening News. (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania). 23 Jul 1941, Wed • Page 11 At
  12. "United States Census, 1930", database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 February 2016), Walter D Pidgeon, 1930.
  13. "United States Census, 1940," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 February 2016), Walter Pidgeon, Tract 381, Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills Judicial Township, Los Angeles, California, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 19-37, sheet 7B, family 120, NARA digital publication T627 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012), roll 220.
  14. Heidi A. Strobel. "Rosie the Riveter, Rose Will Monroe, and Rose Bonavita"; American National Biography Online Feb. 2000. Access Date: Sun Feb 22 2015.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Veteran star Walter Pidgeon dead at 87" Ukiah Daily Journal (Ukiah, California). 26 Sep 1984, Wed • Page 2. At


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