Oscar Actors: Brennan, Walter–Three Time Best Supporting Actor

Walter Brennan: Triple Winner

In the Academy’s entire history, of the Best Supporting Actors winners, only one, Walter Brennan, had received three Oscars, and all three within a period of four years.


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Brennan won Oscars for “Come and Get It” (1936), “Kentucky” (1938), and “The Westerner” (1940).

Photo: Come and get It (Brennan on left side)

Brenner was nominated for the fourth time, also in the Supporting Actor league, in 1941, for the WWI biopic “Sergeant York,” opposite Gary Cooper.

Walter Brennan is regarded as one of the finest and busiest character actors in film history. While his roles were diverse, he is best remembered for his portrayals in Westerns, such as Judge Roy Bean in The Westerner, trail hand Nadine Groot in Red River, and Deputy Stumpy in Rio Bravo.  In the last two, he was directed by Howard Hawks and supported John Wayne in the lead.

He was the first actor to win three Oscar Awards and remains the only person to have won Best Supporting Actor three times.

How He Won the Awards?

In the early years of the Academy Awards, extras had the right to vote. Brennan was popular with the Union of Film Extras, and since their numbers were overwhelming, he won every time he was nominated.

His third win led to the disenfranchisement of the union from Oscar voting.  After this change, Brennan lost his fourth Best Supporting Actor nomination in 1941 for Sergeant York; the award went to Donald Crisp for John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley, which won Best Picture too.